Friday, December 16, 2016
Christmas Countdown Characters #16
P is for Pollyanna
Yes - today the Christmas celebrity is that beloved happy girl from Eleanor H Porter's classic children's book. Now I know you are all wondering if there were any Pollyanna Christmas stories? No there weren't any specific Christmas stories, but I just want to remind you of the reason for Pollyanna's being was making others happy and seeing the good in everything. In the original stories and all the sequels, Pollyanna was renowned for her optimistic "Glad Game" where you were challenged to find the positive in any situation. I remember that I admired Pollyanna for being "glad" about whatever gift she was given. When she received crutches in a gift exchange, instead of a doll, and she learnt that she should be glad about the gift, because she did not need them! I also remember that although I thought Pollyanna was very virtuous, I hoped desperately that I was never given crutches when I didn't need them!
Now to the real reason for the choice of Pollyanna today - I am sure this " glad game" approach gave rise to the practice of gift exchange which in some parts of USA is called a "Pollyanna". The practice named after today's heroine is probably better known in other parts of the world as Secret Santa or Kris Kringle or even the White Elephant Gift Swap.
It’s a way to give gifts, as you say, to other members of a group, such as fellow workers in an office, other members of a club, or within a large family. The formal term at one time was Pollyanna gift exchange, which turns up a lot in newspapers from about 1947 on. . The idea is to limit present giving by ensuring that each person gives one gift to one other person in the group; often a ceiling is placed on the amount that can be spent on each gift. In some cases, each person provides a gift already wrapped so nobody knows what it is; the potential recipients draw lots to decide who gets which gift. Or people draw lots to determine who buys a gift for whom; sometimes recipients are asked to guess who bought it for them. Both the giver and the receiver may be called the Pollyanna. (from http://www.worldwidewords.org)
I was amused to read a blog written by someone obviously disgruntled with Pollyanna and Secret Santa gift exchanges in the past and wanted to be sure some formalised 'Pollyanna" etiquette be established to ensure no future disappointments.
Not quite in the spirit of the Pollyanna but then again Pollyanna was about making everyone happy!
I have to admit that on occasions I have been disappointed in what I received in gift exchanges, and at other times, I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the gift giver. I guess the lesson to learn from Pollyanna is that whatever your gift is, be positive and happy - enjoy the giving and stress less about the gift itself!