Confessions of a Loud Laugher

‘Tis the season to be jolly. But this time of merriment is a virtual minefield for those of us who are loud laughters. Not everyone fully appreciates a hearty chortle–especially if it comes at an inappropriate time.

People who know me are used to my laugh. It’s highly recognizable.

But the holidays often find me in social situations where people are not used to my response to humorous stimuli.  And even if I do try to reign it in, it’s like the hiccups–it can just erupt from my mouth before I realize it’s happening.

That’s why the female Bible character that I most closely identify with is Sara. When God told her that she was going to have a son at quite an advanced age, she laughed out loud. At God! I totally get her. I would have done the same thing.

I can’t help it. My loud and inappropriate laughter is genetic. The loud part I inherited from my dad and the inappropriate part from my mom (and her sisters).

My most recent faux pas was at a reception following the ordination of new pastor. A young man whom I’ve known since he was a teenager (now in his early 30s) has been able to pull off the amazing feat of doing the three things he loves–learning, youth leading and traveling–for all of his adult life.  I asked him what he was doing next and he said he was either going to seminary or to graduate school in Belfast, Ireland (where he had previously lived as a Young Adult Volunteer). “What would you study in Belfast?” I asked.

“I’d get a masters in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice,” he answered, very earnestly.

And I burst out laughing. It just erupted out of me, and I couldn’t stop. I mean, I’m all for conflict transformation and social justice, but a masters degree in these studies just kinda sounded made up. The rest of the table–full of clergy and Christian ed folks–looked at me like I was both horrible and a bit insane, but my young traveling friend knew why I was laughing.

I have startled more than one restaurant, party and store patron with a sudden guffaw. People with no sense of humor tend to look down their noses at me as if I am quite common and crass.  But I’m okay with that. If you can’t laugh out loud, then you can’t live out loud. And if you can’t laugh at yourself, please do not come sit next to me.

I’m going to keep laughing. It is one of the best (and most fun) ways to stay healthy.  Plus, there is far too much to cry about in this world to pass on laughing out loud and strong when the opportunity presents itself.

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