Good Monday Morning 1-3-22.
The holidays are behind us.
Shopping and baking and wrapping gifts (although I cheat and use gift bags mostly).
Decorating and undecorating (my decorations are still up. Maybe I’ll get them down and put away this week).
Overeating……(Enough said about that. It’s back to “regular food” this week).
I still have one more Christmas celebration this coming weekend, the gathering of my siblings and their families.
We won’t all be together. As our kids have grown up, some have to work on that weekend; others have moved away.
But I will see my sisters and brother and their spouses. I love to spend time with my siblings.
We always find things to laugh about, even when we are going through tough circumstances.
I remember when we were at the funeral home, after my dad passed away, making final arrangements (my mom had died a few months prior to that). It was definitely a time of grief. But we didn’t see any casket that we liked that really said “dad.” The funeral director said he had one that just came back and brought it in to show it to us. It made us chuckle to think that a casket had returned empty to the funeral home. (I understand why that happens, and it’s really nothing to joke about. But at that moment, it struck us as funny).
Right after my husband passed away, we were sitting in the hospital waiting for the final paperwork. It was not a time for laughing. But I stuck my foot in my mouth when I said something negative about a person who was standing right next to me. I nudged my brother-in-law and said, “You should have stopped me from saying that.” He said, “There wasn’t time.” (I still chuckle when I remember that moment, in spite of being embarrassed).
Those moments of levity during difficult times are part and parcel of being in my large family. My dad could always see the humor in everything. My mom loved to joke around and laugh.
I’m so thankful that my parents taught us how to laugh, even if the laughter is at our own expense.
In December I lost a beloved aunt and one of my good friends passed away from Covid. Other families have lost loved ones as well. I don’t find anything funny in either of their deaths. Those times of levity during my times of grief were to help me get through it. I would never laugh at someone else’s grief.
These two deaths bring back memories of my own days of living in a fog from grief. It took several months for me to begin to live “normally” again after my husband passed away. Of course I had to get up every morning and feed the kids and get them off to school, but for a long time I felt like I was just going through the motions.
That first holiday without him was so hard to get through. It didn’t get any easier the following year when we again celebrated without him.
Eleven years have passed since then. My kids have grown up and are independent adults. I know they still grieve their father. But we have enjoyed our time together the past few holidays.
This year we celebrated on Christmas Eve as is our tradition, with a nice dinner. Then we opened our presents and watched Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. It is my favorite holiday movie. While parts of it are crass, it is so over-the-top ridiculous that I laugh all the way through it.
I thank God for the gift of laughter.
As I said, my parents were a good example at how to get through the dark times while keeping their sense of humor. My siblings and I enjoy our time together and laugh so much over the silliest of things.
For a long time, when my kids were younger, I forgot how to laugh. I dealt with depression for most of my life and as a mom overwhelmed by the stresses of life, I didn’t find much to laugh about. I remember attending a bridal shower and my aunts were joking around so much that my face hurt from smiling. There are times when it’s like that with my siblings, also.
I hope that I have passed on that gift of humor to my children. They saw me angry and depressed in their younger years, then navigate the ups and downs of life after I received the diagnosis for bipolar disorder. Medication and counseling helped take away the anger, although I still struggle with depression at times.
During the past 11 years, they’ve watched me grieve their and come through the Valley of the Shadow of their father’s death. I hope they realize that I am a survivor and see me thriving in life despite hard circumstances we’ve all been through.
My parents left a legacy of the gift of humor. I hope that when my kids look back on my life one day, they will remember that I laughed often.