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​"HUMOR AND JOY" SERIES, PART V "LAUGHING IN RELATIONSHIPS"

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"HUMOR AND JOY" SERIES, PART V

"LAUGHING IN RELATIONSHIPS"

“A joyful heart is the health of the body…”

Prov. 17:22

Yes… to answer the unasked question… there are few if any (even the most excellent ones) relationships that cannot benefit from humor and laughter.


HUMOR AND RELATIONSHIPS

Some have even said that humor—the ability to laugh at ourselves, each other, and at life—is a primary factor in keeping a good relationship “good”… and together… whatever kind of relationship that is (work, family, friend, community, etc.). It helps to have the open-eyed and humble-hearted ability to laugh at ourselves, and at whatever “group” or category to which we belong: married/ single; religious/ denominational; male/ female… etc.

In the first “Humor and Joy” blog, we listed some health benefits of laughter. It’s worth mentioning, in this blog, some advantages of humor in group/ work/ community/ and personal relationships. For one, it boosts morale… and heightens energy and productivity. It lifts the perspectives toward more cohesive things like cooperation, communication and understanding. It provides a natural “high”. It can quickly facilitate a change of mood or soothe some feelings when used honestly and kindly.

That being said… We launch into the sometimes “sensitive” territory of “relationships”. To be frank, we are all aware that the sensitivity often originates in some very real hurt and offensive attitudes and actions that have been experienced in the private and public areas of our lives.

Yes, forgiveness and love go a long, long way toward healing. Well-intentioned humor can pick up some stray fragments of what is left to be resolved. (We acknowledge that as true, as long as that humor isn’t just veiled bitterness expressed in “barbed wire” jabs and put-downs… or in hurtful, hateful comments masquerading as “funny” to those who say that others “just can’t take a joke”. Humor embraces good-natured teasing, but it doesn’t grant immunity from kind consideration.) We apologize ahead of time if we are hitting you on a “bad day”...or in a sensitive spot.

And, as mentioned before, we look to use some tact, respect and loving consideration in humor… or keep very handy our ability to apologize for offending others. (Sir, be assured that we were not thinking of you when we decided to print that one joke…. And, dear lady, surely that other anecdote that may seem to hit close to home actually has utterly no connection with you, your thinking, nor your behaviors.)

We’ll start with a very “mixed” group of relationships, and then move on.


THE INTERFAITH MEETING

“A rabbi and a priest and a nun were enjoying lunch at an interfaith meeting.

‘This ham is delicious,’ the priest joked. ‘I can’t understand how anything so wonderful could be forbidden by religious law. Come on, Rabbi, when are you going to try it?’

Without missing a beat, the Rabbi responded, ’I’ll try it', she said with a wide grin, ‘at your wedding or sister’s ordination.’” 1


RELATIONSHIPS IN GENERAL

In everyday jargon, the term “relationship” has come to have a much narrower meaning (or, often, inferred meaning) than the original sociological term (i.e., paraphrased: “the way people or groups deal with, relate to, or behave toward one another”).

People often assume that when someone uses the term “relationship” they mean that the reference is to a romantic friendship between two people. That certainly has merit. But we are mostly referring to all kinds of people relating to one another. I wish we could spend more time with humor that covers various inter-relationships—at work, at school, other family relationships, community interactions—linkage, kinship, bonds, etc. Maybe at another time!


MARRIAGE

We’ll focus on an important relationship—that of married life. It’s not only essential to the continuation of the species, but it is also quite a primary target topic for jokes. (Could the intensity of the relationship or the many differences between men and women possibly have anything to do with that?!) We quote Deacon Tom on some of his thoughts regarding marriage…

Marriage is a sacrament that comes with the graces of a loving God. But relationship—ahh, that’s a little different. Relationship is best handled with a sense of humor. Laughter…. is the best medicine to carry us through the inevitable rough spots.

The eternal conflict—sometimes gentle, sometimes raucous—that exists between couples can be a source of pain, certainly. But just as certainly, it can be the source of great humor. As long as we don’t take ourselves too seriously, of course.

The jokes and stories that follow poke fun at the division—or lack therof—of household duties, at miscommunication, at the tussles and stumblings that punctuate married life… Relationship jokes can highlight a flaw, draw humor from a miscue, or find a smile in a conflict. While human relationships are truly a divine gift, it is also a great gift to be able to discover a smile or a laugh in them. Humor celebrates the real bond of commitment that allows couples to stay together…” 2

Our marriage anecdotes begin with one from Deacon Tom's last book:


THE WEDDING CEREMONY

“ ‘Well, how’d it go?’ asked the deacon’s wife as he returned from celebrating his first wedding.

‘It went OK,’ responded the deacon, ‘until we came to the part in the vows about the wife being obedient to her husband.

That’s when the bride answered,

“Do you think I’m nuts?”

and the groom said,

“I do.”

It all went downhill from there.’” 3

Well... this is one more vivid example as to why it is wise not to skip the rehearsal. If I am not mistaken, wedding rehearsals are supposed to take care of these issues… such as exactly when (and, apparently, just as importantly, when not) to say, “I do.”

I strongly believe that communication is not only an important skill in a marriage, but a very vital one. On an “Is it an issue/ problem?” scale of 1 to 10, the following story illustrates a marriage that may rank in high, double digits.


COMMUNICATION

“A parishioner approached Father Dan and informed him she was contemplating a divorce.

‘Do you have sufficient grounds for a divorce?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ the woman responded, ‘we have four acres.’

Father Dan was confused. ‘Do you or your husband hold a grudge in your marriage?’

‘Of course!’ the woman replied. ‘We have a two-car grudge. He puts his car in one and I put mine in the other.’

The frustrated cleric then asked, ‘Well, does he beat you up?’

‘No,’ she replied, ‘I get up before him every morning.’

In utter desperation, Father Dan tried once more. ‘Do you happen to wake up grumpy in the morning?’

‘No,’ she answered, ‘I let him sleep.’

Finally he had to ask the obvious. ‘Are you sure you want a divorce?’

‘It’s not me,’ she snapped. ‘It’s my husband. He thinks we have a communication problem.’” 4


SHARING

What about sharing in marriage? That’s a real issue for some people. How far would you go?

“A young priest …noticed an elderly couple sitting down to lunch… As he watched, the man carefully divided the hamburger in half, then counted out the fries… until each had half. Then he poured half of the soft drink into the extra cup and set that in front of his wife. The old man began to eat, but his wife sat watching him…

The priest was touched… and asked if they would allow him to buy another meal so that they didn’t have to split theirs.

The old man said, ‘Oh no, Father. We’ve been married 50 years and everything has always been and will always be shared 50-50.’The priest then asked his wife why she wasn’t eating. ‘It’s his turn with the teeth first, Father.’” 5


MINISTRY

Ministry roles can be very demanding. So much need, so little time… Of course, there are other factors involved…

JACK

"Jack is a busy, hard-working guy. In addition to his demanding job at the bank, he’s a deacon at the local parish. But he loves his wife and always wants to do the right thing by her.

Jill says to him, ‘Jack, that young couple that just moved in next door seem like such a loving twosome. Every morning, when he leaves the house, he kisses her goodbye; and every evening when he comes home he brings her a dozen roses. Now, why can’t you do that?’

‘Gosh,’ Jack says, ‘I hardly know the girl.’” 6

JOHN

Like many newly ordained deacons, John threw himself into parish activities and worked with abandon. He frequently told parishioner that if they wished a pastoral visit to just drop him an email and he would stop by.

One night, checking his email before yet another meeting, John received a note. It read, ‘I am one of the loneliest parishioners and biggest supporters. May I have a visit tomorrow evening?’

It was signed by his wife.” 7


IMPOSSIBLE QUESTIONS... QUESTIONABLE ANSWERS

During a particularly difficult season of my life, I had a rare hour to spend before a ministry meeting. Almost next door to the meeting site was a large shopping center with which I was familiar. I decided to take a quick walk and window shop at the same time—partly to take my mind off of my troubles. Passing by the Hallmark shop window, I saw a huge greeting card (at least 3 feet high) with a cover picture of a full-color dinosaur couple, standing side-by-side, looking at one another, and dressed in Hawaiian print vacation clothes.

The words coming out of her mouth (the mouth of a large, female dinosaur, no less) were:

“Do you think this dress makes me look fat?”

(that being, of course, one of the most dangerous questions a male can be asked…)

At the very bottom of this over-sized card were the words: “The real reason dinosaurs are extinct…”

I could hardly stop laughing. Everything about the card was ludicrous—the clothes they were wearing, the size of the card, the imagined innocent-but-woefully-mistaken response from the male dinosaur, the read-between-the-lines-cause of the extinction—and I was in a “desperately-need-something-to-laugh-about” frame of mind. (Enough hyphenated words.) That moment is well etched in my memory, and continues to make me laugh.

The previous story came to mind because Deacon Tom tells a similar anecdote. [One feels like warning the poor husband, “Think very carefully before you answer… or consider taking a couple steps back...”] Tom tells this story:

“While shopping for vacation clothes, the president of the parish council and his wife passed a display of bathing suits.

She asked him, ‘What do you think?

Should I get a bikini or an all-in-one?’ “

“ ‘Better get a bikini,’ he replied. ‘You’d never get it all in one.’

He’s still in intensive care.” 8

(I hope he is out by now... or... Exactly where can we send a card...?)


WEDDING RINGS

Family weddings can be such fun. And one of the most entertaining parts of the wedding ceremony often ends up being the brief moments when the flower girl and ring bearer come down the aisle…

Little Johnny was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps, stop, and then turn to the crowd, put his hands up like claws and roar. That’s the way it went all down the aisle: step, step, ROAR… step, step, ROAR…

As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing by the time he reached the pulpit. When the priest who was celebrating the wedding asked what he was doing,

Little Johnny sniffed and said, ‘I was being the Ring Bear.’” 9

A young bride-and-groom-to-be had just selected the wedding ring. As the girl admired her band of gold, the boy suddenly looked concerned.

‘Tell me,’ he asked the elderly salesman,’ Is there anything special I’ll have to do to take care of this ring?” With a fatherly smile, the salesman said,

‘One of the best ways to protect your wedding ring, son, is to dip it in dishwater three times a day.’” 10


“At a reception for new members of the parish, the deacon asked one of the women,

Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’

The woman replied, ‘Yes, I am. I married the wrong man.’ ‘ 11


CHILDREN CAN MAKE US LAUGH

We all know that sometimes—even often—marriage can lead to children In fact, “begetting” is very biblical: just count how many times the term is used in scripture. And, of course, there is much spoken about the subject in the bible, and written, theologically, on related material. So—we move on to some anecdotes about children. We will open with a discussion of the subject of “begetting”. A rose by any other name…

Little [Billie] came home from school one day and proudly announced to his parents, ‘Today we learned how to make babies.’ His parents were shocked. Reluctantly, they asked their son to explain what he had learned.

‘You drop the y,’ Billy responded, “and add ies.’” 12

Children and Christmas make for some fun, fun times…

St. Joseph’s School conducted a Christmas art contest for the children in the lower grades. Little Janie, one of the first-grade children, drew a picture of the Nativity complete with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the corner of the stable stood a rather obese individual.

When her teacher asked her to identify this figure, Little Janie replied, ‘Why that’s Round John Virgin!’” 13

Isn’t it great to see children concerned about nature, their environment—and even the smallest of God’s creatures?…

“A father was reading Bible stories to his young son: ‘Lot was warned to take his wife and flee from the city, but his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.’

The son asked, ‘But what happened to the flea?’” 14

There seems to be a slight theme developing here. Let’s go with it.

The pastor was visiting the new family in the parish. During the entire visit, the six-year-old daughter, Little Janie, kept staring at his Roman collar. The priest finally pointed to his collar and asked Little Janie if she knew what it was.

‘Yes,’ replied Little Janie with confidence. ‘It keeps fleas and ticks away for up to thirty days.’” 15

And this last bit comes with a WARNING: “Potential hazard. Not suitable for children under the age of 7? …12? ... 18... 49??" It may inspire some misguided prayer among siblings…”

Church bulletin announcement: ‘Please pray for John Jay, who passed away on March 2 at the request of his sister.’ ” 16

What was that about “brotherly love” and “He’s not heavy—he’s my brother…”? Apparently certain brothers are “heavier” than some others…

And while we are on the subject of brotherly love... We have spoken of it before—the fact that forgiveness needs to be a way of life, not just a “surprised”, occasional choice.

“Little Jonnie had his own version of one of the lines of the Lord’s prayer. ‘And forgive us our trash baskets,’ he prayed, ‘as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.’” 17

Actually, little Jonnie's rendering of Jesus' prayer may not be too far from the truth. It seems to me to be a pretty good analogy... And we will end on that note.

Please join us for the last blog in the “Humor and Joy” series. The “Humor” subject of the last one is “Aging”. It, too, is very light reading. The focus and major content is real and actual humor, as the one above.These two subjects, as we mentioned in an earlier blog, simply beg for (at least a touch) of humor. Join us.


NOTE: The words in bold type are marked for either distinction or emphasis by the blog author, and are not originally part of any of the quotations.

This series is based on one we did in the summer of 2015. It was a series called, “HUMOR”, and was written and posted at trinitychurchsupply.com/blog by Kathy Boh. We enlarged it in 2017, and now present our newer version this summer of 2019.


FOOTNOTES:

1.Oh, Brother, by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 32

2.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 61

3.The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 41

4.Oh, Brother, by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 25

5.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 38

6.Ibid, p. 82

7.The Last Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 17

8.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 63

9.The Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 76

10.The Third Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 68

11.Ibid, p. 64

12.Oh Brother, by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 26

13.Ibid, p. 46

14.The Book of Catholic Jokes, by Deacon Tom Sheridan, p. 80

15.Oh Brother, by Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST, p. 84

16.Ibid, p. 25

17.Ibid, p. 18


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