A sprited holiday decor

Ellen Emery

A professor at Yale University was recently interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show about a psychology class she teaches at the school. The class is Psychology 157 or “How to Be Happy,” as the professor explained on the morning television program.

Since listening to the discussion on this course offering, instructing individuals on how to be happy, I have thought about my own happiness or joy as I prefer to describe it. The interview regarding instructions in happiness referenced literally thousands who have signed up to take this course. As I have thought about instructing in how to actually be happy, I have decided the entire class should take a field trip and travel from Yale in Connecticut to Northern New York.

I would love to guide a field trip of students who are studying happiness — I would merely take them with me as I shop and visit with friends. With each stop, I experience such happiness — yes, absolute joy. I would love to have others experience pure north country joy as well.

When I stopped at the Hogansburg post office Monday, a gentleman stopped and said “Good morning” (he was a complete stranger) and then held the door as I entered. How kind he was — yes there was joy. And there is always joy as I walk toward the counter.

Postal clerk Tabby was busy with another customer, but took time to say “Hello!” Tammy was nearby and made sure I purchased the exact number of stamps needed for the Monday mailing.

Sunday morning, there was overwhelming joy as members of the choir I direct took their places. At Saturday’s rehearsal, I thought perhaps I might have four or five on Sunday morning and wondered what changes I might have to make to adjust to a smaller number in our group. As choir members took their places Sunday morning, there were 10 individuals in the choir loft — and that group was comprised of three-part harmony. Such joy! I was delighted and filled with happiness.

What a joy it was to be able to wish Dan Henry a happy 95th birthday in person this year and what a privilege to be able to attend his surprise party. The greetings from Dan’s family members and dear friends touched my heart — and yes, there was happiness. Balloons and sharing birthday cake always bring joy, too.

I always find joy in visiting with friends — especially friends I haven’t had the opportunity of seeing recently. There is joy in communicating with friends and family on the phone, letters and texting, but the greatest joy is visiting in person.

Sunday, I saw Norma Wood. Norma was behind the counter at the Cornell’s Cleaning facility on Main Street for a number of years. I always loved stopping on Main Street — not only to have my clothes cleaned but to get advice on how to keep my clothes clean (I received some expert advice on taking spots out at home) and to share the news of the day.

It was pure joy to have a few moments just to sit and visit with Norma. I was so grateful to be able to share in the news of family and friends over coffee. What a joy it was to catch up on the events of the day.

I am glad people are hopefully learning how to be happy, but I honestly disagree with the professor that happiness can be taught successfully. For me at least, happiness or joy can only be experienced.

I have found happiness in the parking lot of Walmart as Richard carefully collects shopping carts and extends a cheerful hello. There has been joy at Twin Leaf as breakfast is shared and my coffee cup is filled on a regular basis. And there is always joy when I stop for gas on my way to and from Massena — the gas attendants at Twin Leaf, Western and Eastern Door and Bear’s Den as well make my day so much better with their smile and cheerful greetings.

I would ask you to look for happiness in your life this week. Not necessarily the time of loud laughter but in that time you experience being filled with pure joy. And be grateful realizing you have experienced something 1,200 people who have signed up for a class in happiness at Yale have not yet discovered.


Two local dignitaries, Bill Demo and Carlton Stickney, celebrate birthdays this week. Bill will blow the candles out on his cake Sunday with Carlton celebrating his birthday Monday. If you meet either of these two terrific gentlemen, stop and wish them a very happy birthday and extend your thanks for the many contributions each has given to their community.


This week, we received a picture post card from New York City. It was a handwritten card (I love notes and cards scripted in the sender’s hand) from our youngest son, Gregg. What fun to receive a card sent home!

As I visited with our son telling him how much this card had meant, he explained that there are places in NYC where you can write a card and mail it at no cost to the sender! What a lovely idea.

At first I thought perhaps I should lobby to have such a counter available here — and then I wondered if there was a place to send cards and write a personal message, would anyone stop by to share a handwritten message. I would hope so, but perhaps not.

There are numerous stops on the highway in our travels designated for texting. I wonder if it would be possible to add note writing to the texting stops. Couldn’t there be a stopping place for communicating with family and friends through texting — and hand written notes, too?


“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes.”

— Charles Dickens

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