The Glad Game
Though I didn’t know it at the time, reading “Pollyanna,” one of my favorite childhood books, taught a lesson that stands me in good stead even today. The lesson was called “The Glad Game.” Pollyanna was a young girl who lived with her poor missionary father, her mother having died recently. Every once in a while, a missionary barrel, no doubt filled with cast-offs, would arrive. Pollyanna desperately wanted a doll, and her father had even written to ask for one. When the latest barrel arrived, Pollyanna eagerly looked through the contents, only to find no doll but a small pair of crutches. Seeing her disappointment her father, who firmly believed that one could find good even in the worst situation said, “Just be glad you don’t need the crutches.” And thus the “Glad Game” was born.
When her father also died, Pollyanna was sent to live with her sour, joyless Aunt Polly, but she took her father’s philosophy and the “Glad Game” with her. Combined with her out-going, upbeat personality, Pollyanna managed to change the lives of many in the town, even the most difficult, and finally even Aunt Polly’s.
Aunt Polly, whose main goal was to “fulfill her duty” outlined a rigorous schedule of lessons and “duties” whereas Pollyanna wanted time to live and breathe and interact with the world. After hearing the day planned out for her, Pollyanna was dejected and said she couldn’t think of a thing for which to be glad. But then she decided, “I can be glad when the lessons and duties are done!”
In a reversal, when Aunt Polly was called away for a funeral, Pollyanna said she couldn’t think of anything to be glad about with a funeral to which the housekeeper replied, “Be glad it’s not yours!”
My favorite example of the Glad Game, though, and one that continues to inspire me, involves the housekeeper who tells Pollyanna that she despises Mondays and sees nothing to be glad about a Monday . But Pollyanna had an answer: “You can be glad it’s Monday because then Monday won’t come again for another whole week!”
Although I’m sure my junior high school guidance counselor, who was responsible for assembly programs, was not familiar with Pollyanna, he taught us that at the end of an assembly program, even if we didn’t like it, we could clap because we were glad it was over.
Caveat : If someone breaks a leg don ‘t say “At least you didn’t break two.” That is not at all helpful and is, in fact, downright offensive. They have to arrive at that thought by themselves.
© Dorothy C. Judd
Author’s note: After reading ”Pollyanna” to my third grade class, I asked them to write about a time they had played the “Glad Game. “ In response, one of the children wrote simply that she liked to play the “Glad Game.” When I commented that she could improve her response by writing about a time when she had played the “Glad Game,” Felicia wrote “12:15.”
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