Creating Laughable Moments

I grew up in a family of jokesters. Aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents, who joked and played tricks on one another. Sometimes on other people, too. Like the time my uncle Darrel and I were at the mall.

My uncle had been the victim of a factory accident, which tragically cut off two of his fingers. One day while at the mall we stopped inside the pet store. My uncle saw a little boy peering into a cage and walked over to him.

“Don’t get too close,” my uncle said, “Look what that lizard did to me.” He produced two stubby fingers, which sent a wild-eyed child running to his mom. We had a good laugh.

The prankster gene ran through the whole family, down to my little brother, who once taped the handle of a kitchen sprayer, aiming it in just the right spot, so when my mom turned the faucet on, she was soaked.

As my brother got older, even after I was married, we played jokes together. One time we buried a box with a random selection of things – paper, rock, deck of cards – and placed them in a hole in the garden where my husband was going to dig. He was very confused when he found it.

I taught my children to be pranksters. They learned quickly, once placing red Kool-Aid in the faucet, telling their dad it was rust. It’s a good thing my husband caught on to my humor, since I played more than one joke on him.

My dad wasn’t a prankster so much as a joke teller, though I often didn’t understand his jokes, perhaps because he was laughing so hard I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. His belly shook, and he sounded like one of those toy novelty boxes with that goofy, contagious laughter.

As for my mom, she was the story-teller, rambling on about her life in Sweden (which never happened, but many people believed it did), even reciting an authentic Swedish prayer.

It is from my mom that I learned the art of story-telling. It is from my whole family I learned to joke and laugh at life.

My husband and I have created our own funny moments, like the time we played restaurant when our kids were little, applying accents to our Midwestern voices, handing our children menus and serving them food. Even now, with children gone, we laugh and get silly, doing things others would probably never understand.

None of the jokes matter, none of the incidents anything special. Yet they live, forming a bond that can’t be broken, one we can never forget.

It is in those moments when we least expect it that memories live. The goofy, unexpected, laughable moments. The ties that bring us together.

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Letting go of Collections, to Make Room for What Matters

Don’t hate me, but I can’t stand collections. Multiple pieces of the same item lined on a shelf, like dusty soldiers waiting to attack, give me the heebie-jeebies. I hate clutter, in both my house, and in my mind.

I blame this hatred of collections on all the collectors I’ve known in my life.

My mom was a collector, albeit not an extreme one. Still, she owned thimbles, vases, cups and saucers, and tiny spoons from each state she visited. I wrote a story about her here.

My dad was a collector, too. In fact, his collections multiplied like evil bunnies. If there was anything to collect, my dad found it. He collected keys (here is a story about my dad), half-used paper, little nibs of crayons, and even old Pringles containers.

My dad’s brother was a collector, and so was his wife. Together, their home was piled with toys, books, stuffed animals, those weird little ceramics found at card stores and tucked in the back of thrift stores, brass elephants, and old papers and magazines they piled high in their living room, hoping to one day read. Their house, quite literally, was a hoarder’s house.

My husband was a collector, for a while. Though if you asked me what he collected, I couldn’t tell you. It seems anything, and everything, made its way into our garage, shop, and outdoor shed. Maybe he wasn’t a collector, as much as he was a non-tosser. (Thankfully, he’s changed.)

I once knew a woman who collected Beanie Babies. (Remember those?) She was obsessed, as many collectors are. She’d call every store in town until she found the Beanie Baby she thought she needed. During work one day, she spent an hour on the phone, then took off in the early morning for another hour to pick up said Beanie Baby. If the boss would have known, she would have lost her job. I wonder if it would have been worth it.

I look around my own home, which some might consider bare, and am thankful for all the collectors in my life. My home is simple and neat, and quite easy to clean. Just the way I like it.

But it makes me wonder, why do people collect? What is that makes them fill empty spaces in their homes with needless items?

For some, collecting fills a void, like mindless shopping. An emptiness that won’t go away. A hole… Click To Tweet

For others, it is boredom. Without knowing how to spend their time, they spend it shopping, collecting that which isn’t needed.

For many, it is a demonstration, to the world, and to themselves, that they are rich.

Most of us collect something, knick-knacks, dishes, shoes, clothing. I’ve even known people who have collected cars.

I have had my own set of collections in the past, like old Christmas ornaments, cookbooks, and I still own plenty of novels. Craft items once filled an entire room, paints, clay, beads, and leather goods. Hobbies once provided hours of joy, and perhaps then, they were collections that were worth my time and money. But one day, it was taken away, and I could no longer do that which I loved. That part of my life is over, and all my collections are gone, something I never regret.

Because it seems, when I let go of my collections, when I stopped buying and spending time on needless activities, I found something greater. I found Moments.

Moments walking, meditating, practicing yoga, and reading. Moments with my husband, and my family. Moments I will never forget. Moments that matter.

I can’t say collections are always bad. They can preserve memories, or provide a way for us to escape after a long day of work. Collections, for some, are dreams in the making. And if collections truly make us happy, perhaps we should keep them.

But often, collections gather dust and dirt, sit tirelessly on an old shelf in the corner, and take away time and space from what really matters.

I wonder if it’s time to let go of too many collections, to reduce our lives to the important stuff. I wonder if it’s time to stop collecting needless things, and start collecting Moments.

Do you collect? What? And why?

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Insignificant Moments

It was Sunday night. I was tired, cranky (just ask my husband), and bummed. The weekend hadn’t gone as planned. In the midst of running errands, doing chores, attending activities and church, the one thing my husband and I hadn’t done was spend quality time together.

But sometimes, I think life happens a certain way for a reason. I think I needed a reminder of what life is really about. Because life doesn’t always happen in large chunks of time (though that is nice, too).

Life is created in tiny slices, moments that often slip through our fingers. Click To Tweet

Moments like this:
-A husband holding your hand as you drive to the store.
-A child’s face when they win a derby race.
-A grandchild’s smile.
-A spouse’s hug, when you are disheveled, worn, exhausted.
-Cuddling together on a Saturday night, watching a favorite television show.
-Creating a smile on a stranger’s face.

It is in the insignificant moments where life is created, ones we often forget. Click To Tweet
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