Northwest Herald

Oliver: Why can’t the joys of our youth continue to spark happiness now?

“Joy is shared.”

That’s the message of a TV ad from Amazon that makes me smile every time I see it.

The ad, “Joy Ride,” tells the story of three longtime friends, now elderly, who are sitting on a bench watching as young people sled down a steep hill in front of them.

One of the ladies – the littlest one with glasses – reminds me of my own mother in her later years. Perhaps that’s why this story touches me so.

The “lead” lady notices that her two friends are looking longingly at that sledding hill, perhaps remembering former days when they were able to sled too.

The viewer sees a mischievous smile cross the lead lady’s face. She has a cellphone in her hand with a shopping site on it and hits the “add to cart” button on what looks to be a cushion.

In a later scene, she hands the friends a box with a cushion for each of them. They are a little confused, and she gives them a sign with her head to follow her because she has a plan.

The viewer then sees the three of them putting the cushions into sleds so that they can take a turn on the sledding hill.

As they slide down the hill, they shriek with delight as the wind blows through their hair.

There’s even a flashback to when each of them was young, no doubt to remind us that they probably were thinking about those times too. A few children watching them fly by smile as they see the fun the elderly ladies are having.

The friends make it to the bottom of the hill, and the next thing the viewer sees is the three of them back on their feet and laughing.

All the while, an instrumental version of “In My Life” by The Beatles plays, which works perfectly since it’s about reflecting on the past. The ad’s end line is “Joy is shared.”

Now, mind you, all this probably does strain believability, and the chances that a mere cushion would render that hill a viable option for any of those gals are slim. Even if they did manage to get onto those sleds, getting up probably would be problematic. But it’s a wonderful thing to contemplate, and no doubt possible for some people.

The commercial always gets me thinking about how easy it is for us to lose sight of the joy we had when we were children. Some of the happiest times didn’t involve things, they involved simple pleasures like sledding and riding bikes and just enjoying the moment.

When we were kids, the most mundane things could be entertaining because we found a way to make them fun, whether it was creating a game or goofing around with our friends.

It also reminded me of the joy my mother still had just dancing whenever she heard music playing. One time we went to a gathering that had a band and she was having a grand old time dancing as they played. That, of course, drew attention because it’s not every day one sees a woman in her mid-80s swaying to a rock band. Still, it was pure joy to see her having fun.

Come to think of it, my mother might have been game for trying to sled down a hill. I, however, would have had a heart attack at the thought of her breaking her fragile back in the process. Good thing she stuck to dancing.

If nothing else, it was a needed reminder for me to not get so caught up in all the “adult” things that I have to do and miss the opportunity to enjoy things through childlike eyes.

As I was going through some of my mother’s old papers, I found all my old report cards. It was a trip down memory lane, one that dovetailed nicely with that ad and provided another nudge about not losing sight of what mattered when I was little.

Of course, the other lesson of that ad is that we sometimes must get creative to make the pursuits of the past possible in later years.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to try to throw a few snowballs this winter, and maybe even attempt to make a snowman. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find me on a sledding hill.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.