52 ODES TO JOY in 2022

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Ode to AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS

My country ‘tis a sunny land of joy-giving heroines and heroes,

Like Don Ho, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Allen Poe and Rudolph Valentino.

And, lest we forget, Henry David Thoreau also Bill, James and Marilyn, the Monroes.

We’ve got mounds of joy-giving jesters and clowns

In red and yellow, black, white and browns.

Ladies and germs, I give you Mark Twain, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks,

The Stooges Three, Liberace, the funsters, the punsters and funny faces making goofy looks.

Sweet tweets, there’s songbirds like Aretha, Dolly Parton, Marvin Gaye and Beyonce’,

And to keep it all shook up we’ve got Elvis, Chuck Berry, Chubby Checker and Katy Perry.

We love Lucy and Desi and Disney and Seuss,

Ogden Nash, Mrs. Calabash, The Little Engine Who Could and the caboose.

Pardner, thar’s cowpeeps and dogpeeps, Trigger, Secretariat, Felix and Lassie,

Meryl Streep, the Roadrunner’s beep-beep; Oprah schmoozy and Sousa brassy.

Hats off to Mr. Rogers, Mrs. Doubtfire, Lady Liberty and Grandma Moses.

Hugs to Auntie Mame and Uncle Miltie, to smiley faces and honkin’ noses.

We’ve got astronauts and inventors, American ingenuity from 1776 to perpetuity,

With Edison, Betty Boop and thanks, Tom Hanks, Spanx and hula hoops.

Able activists lead our way, George Washington, Helen Keller, John Wayne, Drs. Salk and King.

Rebels, questioners, visionaries and change agents, of thee we sing.

Chief Joseph, Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, Billy Graham, get my drift?

We salute role models and myths, Babe the Blue Ox, Babe Ruth and Taylor Swift.

We’re truly thankful to all our American joy-givers and not just being dutiful.

And, I’ll end this now and start every year with Ray Charles, “America the Beautiful.”

Dear Reader, last year in this weekly newspaper series we saluted “365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021.” Here is a real quote from twelve of our fantasy, birthday parties:

JANUARY—“If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”—Dolly Parton (born 1/19/46)

FEBRUARY—“Sure, I’ve gotten old. I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees…I’ve fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I’m half-blind, can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine, and take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded and subject to blackouts. I have bouts with dementia, poor circulation, hardly feel my hands or feet anymore, can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92, but…thank God, I still have my Florida driver’s license.”—Red Buttons (born 2/5/19)

MARCH—“In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.”—Cesar Chavez (born 3/31/27)

APRIL—“I didn’t have a mother. I had a mama.”—Al Green (born 4/13/46)

MAY—“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”—George Carlin (born 5/12/37)

JUNE—“Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.”—Marilyn Monroe (born 6/1/26)

JULY—”God’s children and their happiness are my reasons for being.”—Red Skelton (born 7/18/13)

AUGUST—“If you follow your passion, you’ll never work a day in your life.”—Tony Bennett (born 8/3/26)

SEPTEMBER—“You gotta try your luck at least once a day, because you could be going around lucky all day and not know it.”—Jimmy Dean (born 9/10/28)

OCTOBER—“If there is a sweeter music than laughter this side of heaven, I haven’t heard it.”—Buster Keaton (born 10/4/1895)

NOVEMBER—“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”—Carl Sagan (born 11/9/34)

DECEMBER—“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”—Emily Dickinson (born 12/10/1830)

A FAVORITE COCKTAIL RECIPE from 2021 for 2022:

KATY PERRY FRENCH KISS COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS

2 fluid ounces Grey Goose vodka

1 ½ ounces Chambord liqueur

INSTRUCTIONS

Shake ingredients with ice and strain in a martini glass. Garnish with a Hershey’s Kiss and a fresh raspberry.

 In 2022, we continue our uplifting efforts through this spirit-challenging time with “52 ODES TO JOY” like “Ode to SUNSHINE” and “Ode to SMILES” starting with the salute above to those icons who inspire sunny positivity, “Ode to American Joy-Givers.”

As a certified gerontologist for the last four decades, my focus has been on how each of us can make simple, positive choices that increase the likelihood for more joy in our life. Also, since I’m happy to be celebrating my 70th birthday in 2022, each of the weekly “odes to joys” will end with about 20 ideas like these that I’ll be planting called–

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS from MY FIRST 70 YEARS: 1) Buying yourself sunflowers in the bleak midwinter. 2) Buying someone else flowers in the bleak midwinter. 3) Bagpipes playing “Auld Lang Syne.” 4) Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” 5) A King Leo Peppermint stick in a massaged orange as a sipping straw. 6) Deep-tissue massage, 7) Eucalyptus oil on your temples. 8) A glass of water before every meal—including breakfast—for year-round appetite control and irrigation. 9) Joe South “Walk A Mile in My Shoes.” 10) At least a 20-minute walk 3 times a week. 11) Stopping and smelling evergreens in winter. 12) Feeding the winter birds. 13) Eating one bite of chocolate once a week. 14) An apple schmeared with peanut butter for a nutritious meal. 15) Terri Gross 2021 interview of 95-year-old Mel Brooks on National Public Radio. 16) Scattergories. 17) “ET: The Extraterrestial.” 18) Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Starry Night” painting at NYC’s MOMA. 19) Don McLean’s “Vincent” lyrics which start with “Starry starry night.” 20) YouTube “The Best Joke I Ever Heard.” 21) Diane Keaton, joy-giver icon. 22) Elvis Aaron Presley, joy-giver icon. (To Be Continued)—HAVE A JOYFUL, NEW YEAR!

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Ben South