“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Dr. Seuss
Holidays can be described in many ways— joyous, stressful, sacred, commercial, sentimental, calorie-laden, and sometimes disappointing. But could holidays also be described as humorous? Think of the tradition of pardoning a turkey at the White House and hilarious costumes some runners wear at turkey trot races. Don’t you chuckle over silly spoofs on holiday songs (“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or the dogs barking out “Jingle Bells”)? I am guessing you once had to suppress laughter when a child messed up their lines during a holiday play. And late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon jumps on the holiday humor bandwagon with 12 days of unbelievably tacky Christmas sweaters he gives to his studio audience. Our friends of the Jewish faith are also rich in humor. Comedian Henny Youngman once kidded: “I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up … they have no holidays.” If humor is lacking from your holiday get-togethers, maybe this is the year to lighten up.
Where to start? Would your children or grandchildren get a kick out of Thanksgiving jokes or puns? Go online and look some up. Some families have a tradition of playing silly games together during the holidays. Some people hold White Elephant gift exchanges with “gifts” that are quite silly or a thing one wants to get rid of. Many families chuckle over movies like Christmas Vacation, starring Chevy Chase, or A Christmas Story, about Ralphie, the boy who wanted a BB gun for Christmas. And we all can exercise our sense of humor by making New Year’s resolutions that we probably will not keep!
Humor diffuses stress and laughter lowers your blood pressure. The ability to laugh means we are not taking ourselves too seriously, and we have a balanced perspective. But it is important that humor be kind, and not hurtful or aggressive. Positive Psychology lists humor and playfulness as core character strengths, listed under the virtue of transcendence. Transcendence is the ability to rise above your current circumstances, at least in attitude. The Collins Dictionary defines it as “the quality of being able to go beyond normal limits or boundaries.” According to Nancy Radford of Roundtuit Coaching, humor and playfulness are attitudes towards life, rather than simply telling jokes. “Delight and laughter refresh us and make life’s burdens easier. When people execute this strength, they see the funny side of things and enjoy playing. Humor is a powerful antidote to many of our struggles, and aren’t we lucky that it is contagious, too?”