Ever see the movie “The Little Princess?” There have been several versions of this movie, but the one I’m talking about was shot in the 1930s starring little Shirley Temple as Sarah the title character. It was one of my daughter’s favorite movies growing up and I must have watched it 935 times or so, mostly while I was napping but I was “present” in the room.
In the movie, Sarah’s father is well-to-do and is an officer in the British military. As he is about to head off to war, he drops his daughter off at a fancy seminary for girls to stay while he is away. At some point word comes back that her dad went missing and is presumed dead. When the checks stop coming, the school’s headmistress wants to kick the little princess out but conjuring up a shred of consciousness, she does the next best thing and moves her upstairs to the little attic bedroom next to a servant girl named Becky.
After the move, Sarah finds out that she will have to earn her keep and work as a servant of the girls school. Through it all, she kept a positive mindset because she knows in her gut that her father is still alive and needs her to be strong.
One scene she’s eating her basic meal of bread and watery soup when she pretends it is a scrumptious mean with more savory dishes than the one the headmistress allows her. She and Becky use the power of their imaginations to “enjoy” — at least in their minds — a better life. While she imagines this scene out loud, another servant, Ram Dass, who works for the rich man next door hears her enjoying life in spite of her new outward circumstances. One night Ram Dass sneaks over to the little girl’s room and totally redecorates with new curtains, a warm blanket and an expensive robe and slippers. He also lays out a grand feast for the Little Princess and her new friend. Sarah wakes to the glorious smells of the food and thinks for a split second that she is dreaming. She blinks herself awake and grabs a sweet roll and chews it ravenously. She wakes Becky up to enjoy the smorgasbord. Her faithfulness, love and spirit of gratefulness brings the dream to reality.
Long story short (ish), she finds out her dad is still alive and in a hospital for the war wounded. During battle, her father received a terrible head injury and lost his memory. As he sleeps in the hospital he keeps calling out, Sarah … Sarah … Sarah. When she walks in the room for the first time since she thought her dad was dead, he still calls out Sarah and the Little Princess begins to hug him and cry out, “I’m Sarah. It’s me. I’m Sarah.” Suddenly memories start flooding back and he hugs the little princess for the first time in a long time.
This is a great lesson for me to be grateful. Imagine that. Little Shirley Temple teaches me to hold on to my dreams and goals and keep up an attitude of gratitude even when it seems like those dreams are being derailed.
I guess if a little child can do it, so can I.
Surely there is something that we can all be thankful for even in a cloud of seeming despair. What are you grateful for today?