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Laughter: Laughter Promotes Joy

by Susan Alexander Yates

Not too long ago we got a new Golden Retriever puppy. Upon seeing the dog, Susy cried out, "But Mommy, I wanted an elephant." Children say the funniest things, and they naturally bring humor into young families. One of the greatest medicines in the world is laughter. In our homes we desperately need to laugh.

One of the qualities I pray for regularly in my children is that they have a sense of humor. Laughter can cover a multitude of mistakes. It can ease the pain of many failures, and it can cut through a tense moment turning it from potential hurt and restoring a threatened relationship. A home marked by joy is a home where we learn to laugh at ourselves and our situations. I'm sure that our Heavenly Father has a great sense of humor. How He must chuckle at some of the messes we get ourselves into. We all take ourselves too seriously. Humor can bring perspective back into a situation that has gotten far too serious. To be able to laugh at oneself is a great trait. As we attempt to laugh at ourselves we will create a lightheartedness in the family.

One word of caution is in order, though. Humor that is sarcastic is rarely helpful. Indeed, it can be biting and destructive. There is much that is funny that is wholesome. Sarcasm is not necessary for entertainment.

As moms, we need to develop the quality of being able to laugh at our situations. Some people are more naturally gifted with a sense of humor than others. In some it must be cultivated.

Sometimes doing silly skits and playing practical jokes can add a dimension of humor. We have to carefully pick our practical jokes. This year I dressed up in a costume and went to my son's junior high Halloween dance. He didn't recognize me for the longest time, and when one of his girlfriends did, it was so funny. Now I'd never do that to my high-schooler. It would embarrass her to death.

Once, Johnny and I went disguised as very old people to a retirement party for a close friend. Our kids helped us get ready, and it was a great joke for all.

One April Fool's Day, my husband and I came home from a dinner engagement to find that our children had short-sheeted our bed, put Saran Wrap over our toilet seat, and stockings over our shower nozzle! Loud giggles were heard coming from each of their bedrooms as our shrieks let them know we had fallen for their pranks. As adults we should take care not to lose the sense of fun that children have, and we must be creative in cultivating humor in our homes.

Another key in developing humor lies in keeping our perspective. Something that seems so important right now will often seem irrelevant next month. People's perspectives are so different. Chris once told me that he had found a very valuable antique nickel – made in 1964!

A couple of years ago we went on a trip out West. We met a farmer in a small Kansas town of 300. He told us that he had gotten fed up with that town because it was getting too big, so he was moving to the country. On this same trip we took the children to see a replica of a frontier village. They saw demonstrations of women weaving and making pottery. They were so amazed at how hard women had to work back in those days! Being reminded of the many different perspectives people have will help in understanding one another and will provide opportunities for humor. An atmosphere which is marked by joy will prevail in a home where laughter is frequent.

Excerpt, used with permission, from the book, And Then I Had Kids by Susan Alexander Yates.

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