Try to be a little Pollyanna-ish

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Oh how my sister and I hated Pollyanna.

Pollyanna — the heroine of a long-ago children’s book — was a symbol of relentless cheerfulness.

No matter how dire the circumstance, the “little glad girl” managed to find something cheerful about it.

The author who gave her birth — Eleanor H. Porter — in 1913 created a monster that would live through 11 “glad books” that have become children’s classics along with The Secret Garden, Heidi and many others.

Other authors jumped on the bandwagon, too, and Pollyanna continues to “live” today, and there have been movies and television shows featuring this revolting little girl.

If Barbara and I were grousing about being bored, or tired of pestering each other, or whining “We don’t have anything to do” — remember, there was no television and rarely radio — our mother would threaten us with having to read another chapter of the latest Pollyanna book.

Why writing about her?

Why are we writing about her in this Thanksgiving season?

Because so many families today are in dire circumstances and could do with some of her annoying cheerfulness and ability to find something good in almost anything bad.

So instead of bemoaning our misfortunes, be they health wise, money wise, grief wise and more, perhaps we should sit down and perhaps even write down what is good in our lives and for what we should be thankful. (Today, even psychologists recognize that optimism is healing both mentally and physically, whereas pessimism does just the opposite. Maybe the esteemed doctors had been forced to read about Pollyanna!)

I am thankful

So please bear with me while I chalk up the myriad blessings for which I am thankful, not just at Thanksgiving but every day.

I am thankful I can get up in the morning and be able to smile and hear and talk and walk.

I am thankful for the raucous crows that have descended on the pasture and fill the air with their conversation.

I am thankful for the historic roof over my head — an expensive roof, I might note — and that my refrigerator contains food and that there are warm clothes in my closet.

I am thankful I have been frugal all my life and am therefore able to help others who have not been for whatever reasons.

I am thankful for parents who instilled in me respect for all living creatures, appreciation of beautiful music, belief in a sustaining faith, awe for the miracles of nature all around us, tolerance of others who may differ with us, love of good books, patience with those who do not respect us.

I am thankful for the privilege of living with wonderful dogs and cats and horses, all of whom have in the past and continue to enrich my life immeasurably.

I am thankful for my trees and my fields and my singing birds and for the wherewithal to keep them safe while I am here and after I am gone.

Host of friends

I am thankful for the host of friends of all ages who tolerate me and listen to my recollections and help me with tasks that advancing years make difficult to do by myself and who understand my idiosyncrasies.

I am thankful that the nation in which I live is not under siege as are so many others where horrific violence escalates daily.

I am thankful that the area in which I live is not subject to mud slides, fires, floods, blizzards — occasionally! — earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes — occasionally! — and other weather extremes.

I am thankful that Farm and Dairy allows me to ramble on like this, and for the loyal readers who have kept in touch over the 22 years I’ve been doing the column.

I am thankful that I am mostly able to ignore the twinges that afflict everyone over the age of 50 — considerably over the age of 50! — and can usually be Pollyanna-ish about them! It is much better to be grateful for the things one is still able to do than to lament the things no longer possible.

How about that, Pollyanna?

Be a little Pollyanna-ish

And I am thankful to be able to wish you the best of Thanksgivings, however your situation, and try to be a little Pollyanna-ish!

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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