There are two movies that elicit the exact same response from my mother every time they are mentioned, let alone actually pulled out of the box for us to watch. “Oh! That was one of my absolute favorite movies as a kid!” or “Did I ever tell you this was the first show my family went to see together in theaters?” are the surefire squeals of excitement in response to any Pollyanna or The Sound of Music reference in my mother’s presence. Promise. Just ask my brothers. You’re sure to get an eye roll and a laugh about how many times they’ve heard these Holly-isms or watched one of these movies with mom as a kid.
Growing up, I never really saw a connection between these two classics other than the fact they felt charming yet archaic in comparison to the colorful Disney cartoons that occupied my everyday screen time. But, looking back, my mom’s love for these two stories makes so much sense.
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You see, my fiancé said it best while he was not so reluctantly participating in one of my recent Golden Girls bing watching marathons. “Your mom is like a smart Rose, isn’t she?” For those that watch the show, that comparison may sound like an oxymoron, but I knew exactly what he meant. He wasn’t talking about the ditsy, dim-witted side of Rose whatsoever. He was talking about her unwavering optimism and effortless ability to always look on the bright side (no matter what shenanigans those four crazy kooks managed to get themselves into).
I mean it when I say my mom is the most positive person I’ve ever met. If you asked her, she’d say she got it from her father. He was a child of the Great Depression and WWII bombardier who had been through it all (even had the bullet scars to show for it), but still never had a bad thing to say about anyone or anything. Though my mom hasn’t been through the same trials and tribulations as my grandfather, she’s earned the right for me to be in awe of her practical optimism in her own way.
Back in the day, it was giggling through ridiculous carpool caravans across Memphis to make sure one kid made it ballet, the other to baseball, and the other to piano lessons even though they all started at 4 o’clock and were 30 minutes apart. It was making up goofy songs to overcome the struggles of waking up three groggy, definitely not morning people kids and getting them off to school (who cares if it wasn’t quite on time?). It was keeping life light yet steady as she smiled through all the instability a growing family endures.
These days, it’s helping me laugh off the little things like only a best friend can. It’s the fact that one of my best girlfriends calls my mom her “sweet angel” and doesn’t want to utter a bad word around her because she is just too sweet. It’s her ability to calm me down during midnight wedding planning calls, help me look on the bright side when life feels complicated, and so much more.
So, of course my mom’s favorite movies revolve around characters that radiate positivity. My mom’s life approach is a sensible take on Pollyanna’s “glad game.” Her words of wisdom are Maria’s “favorite things.” I’m pretty sure she even literally sang that song to me during some kind of high school drama I delt with in another lifetime. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but now I hope I hum the same tune to my kids someday.
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