The main theme I try to convey to readers through my columns is to look for the humor in each day but especially in adversities. We’re all going to have setbacks, plans that fail, problems that arise at inconvenient times, and negative news and natural disasters that strike our livelihood at times.
I believe when we’re faced with unwelcome circumstances, humor can be a coping tool. Even when we are devastated, and we all will be from time to time, humor can be a safeguard from despair. We may not see anything comical about a hardship at the moment we’re experiencing it, but it is still there, waiting for us to come around to see its usefulness in our lives.
I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who have always had the ability to see humor in all things and I’ve noticed that they’re also the people who live a happy, resilient, love-filled life. They’ve reminded me that humor is all around us if we take the time to look for it, acknowledge it, and allow it help us get through challenges, and even heal us.
The proof behind my theory that there’s always the potential for humor is in a story about my longtime florist girlfriend and my Grandma Gayle’s special breadbox: a story which my friend and I still laugh about. The first time she saw it, it was on my mom’s kitchen counter. My girlfriend had stopped at my folks’ house with a floral delivery and my mom had to answer the phone just as she arrived. While my friend waited, she admired the beautiful breadbox sitting on the counter. The wood was satiny smooth and had a simple handle on the lid. Once my mom got off the phone, she and my girlfriend began to chat and my friend didn’t get around to complimenting on the breadbox.
A few days later, she was sitting down at church when she saw the breadbox in front of the altar, surrounded by funeral arrangements for my Grandma Gayle’s memorial service. A week or so after the funeral, my friend confessed to me that she mistook the wooden box for my grandmother’s ashes for a beautiful breadbox.
Knowing my Grandma Gayle’s delightful sense of humor, I knew in my heart that she found the incident hysterically funny, because she always found the comical in unusual circumstances, sometimes even in somber occasions. I believe my grandmother wanted to be remembered for the things she found uncharacteristically amusing. My girlfriend, after initially being mortified that she almost complimented my mom on the beautiful breadbox, eventually saw the humor in her situation as well.
What I’ve learned most about the challenges and hardships I face is that having a sense of humor is a gentle way to get through it. It’s been 20 years since my Grandma Gayle passed away and I still miss her. I miss her way of finding things that are amusing in serious and somber occasions, embarrassing moments, and temperamental situations. I miss her delightful laugh and constant smile and I think of her when I find humor in adversity. She may be gone from my presence but her sense of humor is still alive, because I can never look at a breadbox without wanting to laugh.