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Cheer is catching — please pass it on

You know those annoying news flashes that creep across the bottom of your television screen while you’re trying to watch some educational program like Samantha Who or the Big Bang Theory? And you miss something significant when a blurb catches your attention and you have to TiVo back to catch up? Don’t you hate that?

Well, I usually do too, but this morning I was distracted from Good Morning America by this brief little message that said research has discovered that cheerfulness is contagious. That’s welcome news, I thought, cheerfully, especially as it scrolled across the screen behind the latest figures from Wall Street.

I think the news also was timed to drop during the Christmas season, which is supposed to be a time of great cheer, but is often a time of great stress instead.

It came on a day when I had a meeting scheduled with a broker to review the dismal state of my IRA and I also had an appointment to get a cortisone injection into my increasingly balky right shoulder. And it was cold and I don’t like cold. So I needed a dose of cheerfulness.

Good to know that cheerfulness is contagious. Now the question would be: Am I a carrier or contractor?

At that early hour no one was around, or at least awake, from whom I could contract a bit of cheer. I decided I had to be the catalyst so I had another cup of coffee and started slogging through the e-mail that accumulates in my computer overnight, not always a pleasant activity.

I soon found myself in cheerful online banter, however, exchanging bad puns with my good friend Roger Haldenby, at Plains Cotton Growers. And my colleague at Delta Farm Press, Ed Phillips, a great American, and I soon exchanged some pleasantries of a somewhat literary nature. Several of us e-commented on an e-mail gag regarding how a man likely would hang Christmas lights, all this while trying to put the finishing touches on a story regarding dismal economic projections.

Nothing, I cheerfully thought, would make me grumpy today.

I made my appointment with the shoulder surgeon and tried not to grimace while he attempted to pull my shoulder out of joint. Chuckling and groaning in pain at the same time stretches the limits of cheer, but I managed.

I informed the waitress at the barbecue joint where I had a pulled pork sandwich for lunch that she served the best pulled pork this side of North Carolina. Cheered her right up. She called me sweetheart.

I saw Christmas decorations. That always cheers me up. Some people admit to being a bit crotchety at Christmas, something to do with stress and hectic schedules and spending too much money. I understand that, but I still get happy around the first of December and stay that way until February, the month I reserve for curmudgeonry.

This should be a time of cheer, after all. That’s what Christmas is about, cheerfulness, wonder and hope. And if we can put all that business of economic doom and gloom, stress and hectic schedules on a back burner for a few days, we might have time to remember that.

We face a lot of things we can’t do much about, but Christmas reminds us that we always do better when we concentrate on others. So, Merry Christmas. Cheer up. And pass it on.


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