Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't climb a tree with a dolly.

"When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will." Abraham Lincoln, or at least attributed to him by a Hollywood screenwriter.

"You're such a Pollyanna."

Have you ever heard that phrase? Have you dished it out, or been on the receiving end?

We used to make kind fun of my old work friend, Jim with this slightly snarky statement. In response, he proudly framed an album cover from the 1960s record of the Disney movie soundtrack. You see, Jim didn't have any problem whatsoever being considered kind, generally positive, and well-known for being inclined to see things on the bright side.

"You're such a Pollyanna."

When did that phrase become a negative thing; an uncomfortable, "who wants to be a Pollyanna," expression? After all, Pollyanna is just a silly, happy, naive girl, right? Maybe.

When I was a little girl, I loved the Disney movie, Pollyanna. I loved the hair bows and terrific dresses, to be sure. And like most youngsters, I cried at the end. I remember worrying that Pollyanna would never walk again, and wishing that they would make a Pollyanna 2.

Well, enter adult perspective, where "being a Pollyanna" is somehow construed to mean that you are a sappy, glass-half-full type. I hadn't actually watched Pollyanna for many years. I didn’t go out and rent it or anything, but was led back to this compelling story through the magic of 9-million TV channels and free Showtime for a year.

Tonight while channel surfing - we saw it was on, and with my mother-in-law, who is visiting for a few days, decided we had to watch it. Leon seemed just a bit skeptical (he had never seen the film!), and became even more so when we casually explained that in the end of the movie, this sweet little girl would come crashing out of a tree and be paralyzed because the dolly she won at the town fair – oh by the way, she’s an orphan and her parents were poor missionaries who couldn’t afford her a dolly and instead gave her crutches – fell from the roof, which she was balancing on because her mean old aunt made her sleep in an attic bedroom and had not let her go to said fair in the first place.

Why on earth he found this troublesome is unclear. …

Still, we watched it. And oh, it was so nice to immerse in the 1960 Disney attitude. To consider what a difference one person can make; to be struck (as a new parent perhaps in a fresh way) by the importance of learning from a child; to enjoy the total cheese-factor of the premise. And yes - I did cry at the end, and rejoiced (and yes, clapped like a child) as Harrington Town became "the Happy Town," and with adult understanding realized that, yes - Pollyanna would probably walk again, and even if she didn't - well, that wasn't the really the point of the film anyway!

Modern day applications from Pollyanna certainly abound.

I won't go on and on about our cynical world. The world has always been so. We are just a little louder about it now. And I won't wax on about the need for seeing the best in people, playing the Glad Game, or the importance of considering the Happy Texts in Scripture. It's enough to suggest that watching this sweet family film, from an entirely different era, provided me with a wonderful simplicity of perspective with which to start another week.

And maybe, I'll have steak and ice cream for breakfast tomorrow - just to keep the nice feeling alive.

Be happy today!

(And if you have time, take a gander at this clip, which actually talks about the whole concept of being called a Pollyanna!)


Katrina said...

I've never seen Pollyanna! I admit it! But I am super jealous that you have Showtime. Nathan and I are currently addicted to "The Tudors." We are just finishing up Season 1 on DVD from Netflix! Good stuff!!!

t.leaf + k said...

I used to call Kelly "Pollyanna" when we were dating (not being cynical, but because it's TRUE! Isn't she a classic Pollyanna?). And then I found out she hadn't ever seen the movie either. So I rented it from the library, and ...

She fell asleep. Right as the poor girl was climbing that tree. I tell ya!

SarahHub said...

I have been called Pollyanna in my life, but I try to take it as a compliment!