Stories of Optimism

Holiday Message from 50 Years Ago
December 14, 2012

“Promise Yourself: To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” The tenth tenet of the Optimist Creed provides meaningful perspective during the rush of the holiday season. Fifty years ago, John M. Grimland Jr., who served as Optimist International’s President during the 1962-63 year, wrote about “The Yearly Phenomenon” of holiday gift shopping. He must have had “too noble for anger” in mind when sitting down to write the letter. Please enjoy this excerpt from the December 1962 issue of THE OPTIMIST Magazine:

Cover of the December 1962 issue of

The Yearly Phenomenon
Every year about this time, a phenomenon that reaches into all levels of human life occurs. For example, complete strangers loaded with parcels collide on a sidewalk, but their reactions differ from what is their norm.

1962-63 Optimist International President John M. Grimland, Jr.
They have been shopping in pushing, surging crowds throughout the day, holding packages all the while. They have had to wait as long as 15 minutes to attract the attention of a sales clerk, only to find that the item wanted is no longer in stock. They have been waiting, moving, buying and have been pushed in all directions as the sea of faces moved about.

The faces soon became as one until, if there was a friend in the crow, he became hard to notice and identify. Before long, even the light packages seem to become heavy. After struggling with an overwhelming number of people and busy clerks for hours and becoming very weary, even the beautiful Christmas displays seem to lose some of their beauty and all their attraction.

Before long, nerves became frazzled by the constant struggle with the multitude and the clerks who became tired and nervous before the morning was half over. Even when the last purchase is made, the customer, who has by now become a vehicle for the transportation of packages, still has to face the side-walk crowds. Everyone in this crowd is going to some place or coming from it. They form the sidewalk traffic jam.

It is into this two-way, sometimes swift-moving, crowd that the parcel-laden customer must step, and it is here where the collision occurs. Although an explosion of temper might be expected, there is none. Instead, there is a moment of silence, then laughter as each party helps the other gather his packages.

Why is there no anger? Some might contend that the shoppers would not have enough energy left. Others would label the motivating spirit as the “Christmas spirit.” The latter would more likely be true, whether defined as brotherly love or brotherhood. Some might even define it as optimism. But whatever the definition, it is this spirit that I wish for you and yours when I say…Merry Christmas!

John M. Grimland, Jr.


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