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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 05-10-24 – Happy Days Are Here Again

“So long sad times, Go long bad times, We are rid of you at last, Howdy gay times, Cloudy gray times, You are now a thing of the past. Happy days are here again, The skies above are clear again, So let's sing a song of cheer again. Happy days are here again, All together shout it now, There's no one, Who can doubt it now, So let's tell the world about it now” – Happy Days Are Here Again


I suspect that most readers will know that the title of the post is identical to that of a song written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen in late 1929 or early 1930 as there are discrepancies in sources. You can hear the originally released version here. It later became the campaign theme of FDR in his 1932 campaign. Readers with a sense of history will note that these were not the happiest days in America as the pain of the Great Depression was beginning to be felt across America following the stock market crash that started in the Fall of 1929. In that context, the song represents people focusing on positivity in the face of less than stellar conditions. It holds a lesson of value for our current age.


Across history, people have gone about their lives and tried to keep a sense of optimism in the face of adversity. Londoners in the face of the Blitz and the nightly destruction and death visited from the skies went about their lives during the day and slept in subway tunnels in mass during the night as the ground shook and bombs whistled down at them through the darkness. The term “Keep Calm and Carry On” was the messaging from the British Government to the citizens of Britan as they faced the bombs and possible starvation as supply lines from the sea were cut off by U-boats.  They faced annihilation and instead of pulling apart as a nation, they pulled together and helped each other.


Similar dynamics took place here in the states as the Depression took hold across the country. Families who barely had enough food for themselves managed to share what they had with people who had even less.


These examples are in my mind a lot these days. We are, as a nation, in a funk. At least as far as I can tell. We are not facing anything like the kinds of problems that prior generations have faced and came through together but it cannot be said we are at the zenith in respect to being a united people with a broad sense of wellness and cohesiveness across our great nation. I see it every day. There is a meanness and general disregard for each other out in the community. Multiple times in the last few weeks I narrowly missed being in serious car accidents through road rage, disregard for traffic rules or just people cutting each other off to gain a car length lead on other drivers.


On the edge of my early life memory is the rioting, the burning of cities and mass strife that unfolded in the late 1960s and early 1970’s. I could feel the impact it had on my parents and a lot of uncertainty that existed in our society in that era. Like all the prior challenging eras across our history, we got through those uncertain times. Perhaps that is the most important lesson that time has to teach us. Life goes on. Better times tend to come after difficult times.


Who do we want to be as a people? For me, it stems from a similar, more personal recovery question. The truth is we get to choose who we are by our actions. It is a choice that is renewed each day. Each of us can be course, self-focused and mean, this can have an impact on those around us. If your day is not going well, and someone is nasty or rude to you, if you are anything like me, if is nudge in a similar direction. I am less likely to respond in kindness. That is unless I work at it and act towards others as I wish they would respond to me. A warm greeting, some kindness, and a bit of empathy in our interactions can go a very long way. It can reset the vibe, at least for the person acting in this way.


If you have a minute, scroll back to the top of this post and listen to the original version of the Happy Days Are Here Again original version of the song. If you are into more contemporary versions, here is one by Barbera Streisand. Not many of us were around in 1929 and those who were around in that era have only childhood memories. Yet certainly it can be said that it is a wistful tune. A hymn of hope in a dark time. The creation of a little light on a moonless night.


I won’t be pollyannish here. We are not in halcyon days. Things are a bit grim. It is also true though that how we respond to the world around is at least as equally important as what the world delivers us. I think part of our current challenge is that people are responding to our collective challenges in ways that less than optimal, which makes our society course and mean. So, sing it along with me. Try and give a warm greeting out on the street to people you meet. When you see a person having a hard time, if there is even a little thing you can do to bring even the briefest smile to their face, it will be an act that heals two hearts.


None of these ideas are original. They are what all those who have come before has shown us to do when we hit a rough patch. Through their examples we can opt for a similar course of action. I am grateful for the path that they have shown me.

What are you grateful for today?

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