Is it just me, or does it seem like our world is a bit lacking in the sweetness department right now?
- My newsfeed is filled with more political travesties than a person can ingest in a single sitting.
- Swaths of the East Coast are still reeling from the aftermath of the hurricane.
- At every turn, it seems, there’s a shooting in Chicago or a bombing in Aleppo or another racial injustice or a refugee crisis.
There is bitterness at every turn. Where, oh where, is the sweetness?
One of my best literary friends is Anne of Green Gables. She and I met when I was in fourth grade, and the friendship is one I never outgrew. In one of those mysteries unique to book-world, she seemed to grow with me. Each time I reread the series, I’d connect with parts of her and her story that I’d missed before. She hadn’t changed; I had.
One of the things I loved most about those books was the way “Anne with an e” savored the little things. Her story isn’t fueled by drama or intrigue or jaw-dropping plot twists; it’s made up of the little moments that become more beautiful simply by the noticing. Maybe that’s why I love this quote from Anne of Avonlea so much:
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
L. M. Montgomery
Anne has gotten me to thinking that my question—“Where is the sweetness?”—may not be the right one to ask. Maybe the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough sweetness in the world; maybe I’m just not noticing it. And maybe there are some things I can do to make the world a sweeter place.
Tomorrow is Sweetest Day. I’m not one for Hallmark holidays, where people either feel guilted into proving their love with their wallets or feel left out because they don’t have a certain someone to celebrate with. But I am a fan of sweet things.
And if there was ever a year we need more sweetness, it must be this one.
When I started digging into the history of this holiday, I was surprised to discover that Sweetest Day wasn’t originally about romance at all.
The first Sweetest Day dates back to 1921, and apparently there was even a committee for the holiday. A dozen candy makers got together and called themselves “the Sweetest Day in the Year Committee.” (I have to believe those were the best board meetings ever.)
On October 10 of that year, they distributed more than 20,000 boxes of candy to people all over Cleveland, Ohio, who were in need of a little sweetness: newsboys, orphans, the elderly, and the underprivileged.
It wasn’t a big thing, perhaps. The distribution of candy surprises didn’t solve poverty or improve social conditions or change the economic infrastructure of the city. But like Anne said, sweetness isn’t always found in sweeping gestures or the grandiose declarations. Sometimes the little things can be the sweetest ones. Like pearls slipping off a string.
How will you make the world a little sweeter today? Maybe you can give someone a genuine compliment or buy a stranger’s coffee or mail a card to somebody who’s lonely. The thing about sweetness is that when you give it to someone else, it leaves a sweet aftertaste in your own mouth too.
Your turn! Tell me something sweet you did for someone else or something sweet someone did for you, and you’ll be eligible to win a Sweetest Day package from me: Margaret Feinberg’s new book, Flourish, about how to “live loved,” plus a bag of Ghiradelli chocolates.
Happy Sweetest Day!
Kristen Joy Wilks says
Oh, Stephanie, you made me cry again. I love that book, in fact I read it out loud to my sons (well, I didn’t read the sad ending…) when my oldest was just 7 or so. He loved it so much. I need to go back and read it again, for them and for me. The sweet things, yes, those are the things to hold onto and the things to give from the heart to those around us in times of turmoil. Watching my sons help us pick up garbage as a fundraiser for camp, even though they were exhausted. Trying to make sugar free chocolate cake with white fluffy frosting to celebrate my grandma’s 93rd birthday last week. (a tip, the frosting must have sugar!) A friend who gifted our family with a fabulous breakfast and a swim in a heated pool, just because. Having my oldest show me the book they are reading for 7th grade ELA and saying “You should read it, Momma. It’s really good.” Then realizing when he checked in to see if I’d started yet that yes, he really did want me to read his book. Even though he will soon be 13 he wanted to discuss “A Long Walk To Water” with his mom. Precious moments with precious people, priceless.
Kristen, what a wonderful list of sweet things! Nice job savoring all the sweetness around you.
Kristen Joy Wilks says
There are so many sweet things amidst all the horror and hurt. It would be a shame not to see them. It is easy to miss them though. It is good to get a reminder to open up our eyes and look.