The Glad Game: Stories, Life, and Writing

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who grew up with not only animated Disney movies but the old live action ones. We probably watched Swiss Family Robinson a million times, and I mourned when Disneyland switched their treehouse to be Tarzan’s instead because I had always wanted to live in that house with the organ and the ceiling that opens above the master bed.

The other live action one I used to watch most often was Pollyanna.

Looking back, it’s harder to pinpoint why that one appealed to me so much. She didn’t get to live on an island with all those animals as pets and build a super cool treehouse to live in (not just play in). But I loved it, and I find that it’s one of those childhood movies I still think about as an adult.

In case you haven’t seen it, probably the most famous thing about Pollyanna is the story she tells about the origin of “The Glad Game.” She’d been hoping for a doll for Christmas, but there was some mix-up and in the missionary barrel she found a pair of crutches instead. To make her feel better, her dad invented the game, saying, “Well, let’s be glad we don’t have to use them!” It became their method of dealing with disappointments: finding a reason to be glad about them.

Funny how much a simple story like that can influence you for life, isn’t it? Stories are so powerful.

Lately I haven’t been able to work on mine — on the novel that is so close I’d hoped to send it off any week now. But the baby, now seven weeks old, is so fussy that it’s all I can do to keep up with teaching and my other kids and stay sane. Writing has had to be shelved for now.

But I think about how famous writers have said that if your life were easy, you wouldn’t have anything to write about, so as a writer you should always be thankful for the rough patches.

Today I thought about how I’m glad I have a fussy baby because it’s finally forcing me to learn about nutrition. I’ve never eaten junk food and such, but I’ve never been so good about vegetables and fruits and whole grains and lean proteins and such as I suddenly am. And as I learn about nutrition, I’ve been learning about medicine and so many other cool health-related things.

For example, here’s the random trivia of the day: the term “blue bloods” comes from during the plague, when wealthy people drank from silver cups and so the silver would get in their bloodstream and make them look slightly blue. Everyone thought they survived the plague simply by being wealthy, but really it was because silver is a natural antibiotic.

Isn’t that awesome? As a writer, I eat this stuff up. I love to learn about all kinds of different things because you never know how you might be able to use it in a story.

So, even though I’m barely getting in one blog post a week, barely getting any sleep, barely maintaining my sanity, and not able to work on my novel at all, Pollyanna has affected me for life. I can’t help it. I’m glad for all the current chaos of my life; it’ll give me something to write about down the road.

What disappointments are you glad about? What stories from childhood have affected you for life?

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6 responses »

  1. Very thought provoking post. Disappointments? I’m so glad that no one wanted my first draft of any of my WIPs. Seriously, I’d die of humiliation if those early pages were ever found. Shudder. On a more serious note, I’m grateful for the struggle and the insight I’ve gained by being the parent to two disabled children, and two typically developing children. That’s changed me, hopefully for the better. 🙂

    Childhood story? I can’t stand earwigs because of watching The Wrath of Khan as a kid. Yup, traumatized for life.

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    • Ew! Me, too! I will never watch that movie again. I’ve classified it as a horror film in my head (and I refuse to see horror films).

      I think the glad game is an absolute must as a parent. You have to look at the positives or you’d go insane. And I admire you so much for writing a main character who’s disabled. I really hope your magic staff book gets published so other kids and parents can enjoy it! 😀

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  2. I could talk about disappointments that make me glad FOREVER. It seems to be how Heavenly Father communicates with me. Haha. This week I am specifically grateful for this condo (that I hate, despite it’s potential) because the fact that we live here ensured that when when the family with the little Aspie kid moved into our neighborhood we would be able to figure out what Caleb’s deal is. So yay. My son has a diagnosis because of my crappy condo! 🙂

    And also, I most definitely prefer Polly over Pollyanna (it’s the black version… so awesome! It was made for TV and has Claire Huxtable (yes, I call her by her fake name) in it. I really need to buy that movie).

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    • I think God is awesome at tossing the right things at us at the right time so that we learn what we need to when we need to know it. And I totally agree that part of that is sticking us where we’ll meet the right neighbors!

      I’ll have to check out Polly sometime. Thanks for the tip. 😀

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  3. I’ve never seen Pollyanna OR The Swiss Family Robinson. I think I’m missing out on something. I like the idea of “The Glad Game.” It’s definitely something I should be implementing in my life.

    I gave you an award on my blog, in case you are interested. 🙂

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    • My husband thinks that Pollyanna is dumb and I’m crazy for liking it, but we both agreed that we love Swiss Family Robinson. We’re going to watch it tomorrow with our boys if you want to come. Or maybe I’ll bring it to the next writing retreat.

      And thanks for the award!

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