I remember the day exactly. Two years ago on December 26th all I could do was sit in my recliner, exhausted. It had been our turn to do Christmas dinner (for 19) and I’d gone the extra two miles to make it perfect, but it took a toll. The next day was the most tired I can ever remember being. And that’s why we watched the movie – Pollyanna – starring a very young Haley Mills and based on the book written by Eleanor Porter in 1913.
I didn’t really want to watch it, but nothing else seemed any better so there I sat. If you don’t know the story, it’s about an eleven year old orphaned girl who goes to live with her rich, tyrannical Aunt Polly in the small town of Harrington. This was in the days of long dresses, early motor cars, and idyllic small town America.
Pollyanna is full of good cheer, sass, and a very clear sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. She also plays the Glad Game that she learned from her missionary father explained in the following quote.
“Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about--no matter what 'twas," rejoined Pollyanna, earnestly. "And we began right then--on the crutches."
"Well, goodness me! I can't see anythin' ter be glad about--gettin' a pair of crutches when you wanted a doll!"
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
"There is--there is," she crowed. "But I couldn't see it, either, Nancy, at first," she added, with quick honesty. "Father had to tell it to me."
"Well, then, suppose YOU tell ME," almost snapped Nancy.
"Goosey! Why, just be glad because you don't--NEED--'EM!" exulted Pollyanna, triumphantly. "You see it's just as easy--when you know how!"
Pollyanna alternately charms and shocks the townspeople and even makes inroads with the sourpuss, Mrs. Snow (played so well by Agnes Morehead), who is bedridden.
About halfway through the movie I was a little sick of Pollyanna’s solution to everything. Sort of like listening to yet another little girl screeching out, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom . . .” Sorry, but that song brings on the gag reflex in me. Because, you know, sometimes the sun Doesn’t come out tomorrow or for days even.
But my state of tiredness kept me in the chair weakly sipping my coffee and watching. I was being pulled in. Finally the whole crux of the matter was presented in the form of a fund raising bazaar that Aunt Polly was against. Pollyanna in her eternal optimism sides against her aunt. When things are finally at their worst, we find Pollyanna sneaking back into her attic bedroom via an old tree on that side of the house. Just as she’s reaching for the window sill, she loses her balance and plunges to the ground. And lays still.
My heart almost stopped. I began to tear up. Because it could have been one of my granddaughters laying face down in the dirt. A little girl whose buoyant innocence only wanted to see the glad in things. Someone who looks at you and sees through whatever mask you’re wearing and gets to the heart of the matter. The wide open soul who listens to your story of woe and hugs your arm saying, “Don’t be afraid, Grandma. I will be with you.” So said our little Melodi after I told her how frightened I was one day as a child when I got lost coming home from school.
I also realized that the world would be that much more miserable if we let Pollyanna die. We can’t leave her there on the ground to perish. We can’t let the crushing forces that so often intrude keep her down. For if Pollyanna dies, Despair wins, corruption triumphs and evil will slowly become the norm. We can’t have that, can we?
Those few tears I shed in my exhaustion were cleansing. And Pollyanna did get up and was healed along with her Aunt Polly and the little town of Harrington. A little town that just might be like our whole nation is right now.
Please, please, look for the Pollyanna in your life. She is a gift from God. She may even be you.
Thanks for reading.
Image: sattra Free Digital Photos