A study that I read about concluded that the person who makes up his or her bed every day is happier overall than one who doesn't. I consider myself a happy person; maybe that's why.

Not that I purposely adopted this habit on my own. My mother set the example of making the bed, no matter what else was going on in her busy day.

In the past when we slept on a feather bed, more time was required for the chore than with the foam mattresses of today. We had to pat and redistribute the feathers inside the ticking to erase the dents our body made overnight. When fresh sheets were put on, the feather bed was turned over, and maybe end over end too, to further prevent the feathers from bunching up.

Pillows had to be fluffed as well. When they were placed end to end at the head of the bed, there was a dip between. My mother filled that space with my baby pillow, making it appear that a bolster ran all the way across underneath the bedspread.

In summer, the bedspread we used was called a counterpane. It was thin, embroidered with subtle designs, and light in color for a fresh effect in the hot weather. In winter, we went with a heavier chenille spread, the soft, fuzzy tufts suggesting warmth.

Often, the final step in making the bed was to run a broom handle over the top and upright along the sides to make the surfaces bump free. In summer, making up the bed was a little easier because we sunned the feather bed and stored it layered between the springs and the felt mattress. Sinking down in those feathers would have made us too warm on sweltering nights.

Once the bed was made, there was no bouncing and playing on it. We weren't supposed to sit on the edge of the bed either -- take a chair. That would undo the smooth appearance we had taken such care to create.

Nowadays, if I leave the bed unmade, the sight of it bothers me. Its rumpled appearance is a big blot on the surroundings. Even though I might rightly excuse myself because maybe the alarm didn't go off or I needed to attack a certain chore right away, the day's routines are negatively affected. Things don't seem to go as smoothly.

If I let the bed lie unmade all day, my night is affected. Crawling in the bed with the linens just as I left them that morning doesn't feel right at all.

I remember my mother telling of the first complete sentence that she heard me speak when I was learning to talk. We were making up the bed, and I came forth with--"Baby helping Mama make up Papa's bed!"

She praised my sentence, and I guess the seed was planted.