Lessons from Pollyanna
A friend once described this blog as 'too Pollyanna-ish' for his taste. Blame it all on Mother Imelda, superior of the convent school of my childhood, who presented me with a copy of Pollyanna for First Place in Standard 3 after a hard won academic battle against my arch-rival, Gail Someone-or-other. That copy is still on my shelf, dog-eared and shabby after many a reading-aloud, chapter by chapter, to my children, my grandchildren and several English pupils who required listening practice. The board cover is a soft, granulated blue and the paper cover, a bright sunshine yellow befitting its namesake. It sports a color photo of Hayley Mills as Pollyanna in her sailor outfit and straw boater purchased by Aunt Polly, not yet out of love but out of a sense of duty. The love came later.
I have never forgotten Pollyanna's recount to Nancy of the origins of the 'Glad game'. A missionary barrel had arrived at her father's parsonage filled with hand-me-downs for the pastor and his little family. The things, Pollyanna explained to Nancy, were the charity jumble that not even the converts in Africa and other far flung places would want. Pollyanna hoped in vain for a doll; instead her father pulled out a crutch.
"Oh," the good man said, "Here's a splendid opportunity for gratitude! You can be glad that you don't need a crutch."
Hence the Game began.
Imagine writing a book for children today with that harsh lesson in life's realities. Surely such a disappointment would psychologically damaging and the pious pastor an example of a stoic Christianity, quite abhorrent today? Yet the story of brave, little Pollyanna and her Glad Game has captivated children for over a century (the first edition was published in 1913).
This Saturday morning I ventured into my garden for a little garden work for the first time since my accident. I took my crutch just in case. I planted a tray of crimson petunias in the large round pot near the gate, inspected the lavender which are drowning under the pumpkins leaves, gave the the iceberg roses a light pruning and planted a new rosemary in a pot. I propped my crutch against the bay tree while I worked, so thankful that I need it less and less.
When I gingerly stepped into the organic deli at Waterkloof Corner later this morning, the blonde, pony-tailed teenager who operates the the till, cheered me on.
"Well done, I see you're walking without your crutch!"
Pollyanna-ish? Maybe, but I am so glad and grateful.