I found myself back in the kitchen last week for more baking – this time, more treats for the bake sale at the school play. It wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't 90 degrees outside and the kitchen literally an oven. As I stand there swooning in the intense heat, I started feeling a little sorry for myself. Why do I do this to myself? All someone has to do is ask and I'll do it. It's one thing when you have a child in the play or even on the stage crew. But no Naylor was involved in this production – I don't even know what it's called. So, why?
I got the last batch of brownies baking and I turned on the news and caught a segment on the hurricane brewing out in the Atlantic. They spoke of the cholera problem in Haiti that would be exacerbated by the rain and the infected river over-flowing the banks and spreading the disease further…not to mention the thousands of people of Haiti, displaced earlier in the year by the earthquake (and still living in tent cities) that had no protection from the on-coming storm and really no where to go.
Then there was the volcano eruption in the Mount Merapi area of Indonesia, where entire villages were destroyed. Even in this day and age of our powerful communication systems, there was not enough warning for these people to leave.
On the domestic side, unemployment is still double digit in California – I know several friends that are out of work and desperately seeking employment. Then you can go to the price of sugar, eggs and butter skyrocketing (can you tell I'm still in a baking mode?) and things can get down-right depressing. As Chicken Little said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" So why this Debbie Downer moment?
I guess "misery" likes company! How simple it is to spiral into a gloom and doom mood! But my momentary "misery" is so unlike the "misery" of the rest of the world. Today I have a roof over my head, food to eat and too many creature comforts to mention. My misery is but a blink in the eye of time and certainly not worth wasting more than a mere moment to get things into eternal perspective. It's time to play "the glad game"!
Do you remember the story of "Pollyanna"? I first learned the story through the Disney movie version, starring Hailey Mills. It is the story of an 11 year-old girl that goes to live with her spinster aunt after her parents have died. In the book, by Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna explains the game to Nancy, one of her aunt's servants…
"Poor little lamb! And you must be hungry, too. I–I'm afraid you'll have ter have bread and milk in the kitchen with me. Yer aunt didn't like it–because you didn't come down ter supper, ye know."
"But I couldn't. I was up here."
"Yes; but–she didn't know that, you see!" observed Nancy, dryly, stifling a chuckle. "I'm sorry about the bread and milk; I am, I am."
"Oh, I'm not. I'm glad."
"Why, I like bread and milk, and I'd like to eat with you. I don't see any trouble about being glad about that."
"You don't seem ter see any trouble bein' glad about everythin'," retorted Nancy, choking a little over her remembrance of Pollyanna's brave attempts to like the bare little attic room.
Pollyanna laughed softly.
"Well, that's the game, you know, anyway."
"Yes; the 'just being glad' game."
"Whatever in the world are you talkin' about?"
"Why, it's a game. Father told it to me, and it's lovely," rejoined Pollyanna. "We've played it always, ever since I was a little, little girl. I told the Ladies' Aid, and they played it–some of them."
"What is it? I ain't much on games, though."
Pollyanna laughed again, but she sighed, too; and in the gathering twilight her face looked thin and wistful.
"Why, we began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel."
"Yes. You see I'd wanted a doll, and father had written them so; but when the barrel came the lady wrote that there hadn't any dolls come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent 'em along as they might come in handy for some child, sometime. And that's when we began it."
"Well, I must say I can't see any game about that, about that," declared Nancy, almost irritably.
"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!" (from Chapter 5)
(To read more: Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter)
The "glad game" transitions to my "grateful list". When I count my blessings and acknowledge the good things in my life, it helps to change my focus. If I am constantly reminding myself of all that I don't have, I will surely lose sight of all that I do have. I have noticed that when I focus on the negative, it seems to overwhelm the day and loom larger than anything positive. So even when things are tough, finding something to be grateful for changes my heart. The more I look for the "glad" things in my life, the easier it is to recognize my blessings and then it leads me to remember the love that God has for me as a unique individual, someone that He knows by name, someone He cares about.
I don't know if it's on purpose (a strategy of retail businesses) but I have noticed that it seem to go directly from Halloween (scaring ourselves to death) to Christmas (spending ourselves to death). Somehow we have entirely skipped Thanksgiving – I, too, have been at fault for this. Megan even suggested (tongue in cheek) that when we were putting away the Halloween decorations that we might as well get the Christmas stuff out of the attic…I don't think so! I dust before the decorations go up and then again after we take them down, with very minimal dusting done in between. Besides, I need a break to take time to work on my "gratitude attitude" before the rush of Christmas festivities. I must not forget to take the time to give thanks!
Today I am grateful for: sunshine after the rain, which makes everything smell fresh; leftovers so I don't have to cook; and having delightful family visiting from out of town…how about you?