Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 7, 2006


Laughing together can help us make up and move on


          Our Christmas tree stayed up well into the first week of the year for the first time ever. We had to keep it up because 4-year-old Annabelle was coming and did not arrive until January 3rd.

          She brought a new baby brother with her this time. David was born in July as Mom and I were on our way to Zambia. We had not seen him until this week. They live in Louisville, Kentucky with their parents, Matt and Jodi.

          After exchanging gifts on January 4th we took the tree down and boxed it up until next Christmas. It was nice to recover the use of our big room.

          Annabelle was impressed with the mechanical cat she unboxed. With the use of two AA batteries the cat will purr and wag its tail. Little David seemed unimpressed with anything except his next bottle of formula. Still we were so blessed to have these little ones with us for post-Christmas fun.

          Despite the stress that is part of the holiday routine, Christmas is still a great time of the year. In addition to the story of the Christ child’s birth, we enjoy telling and retelling stories of earlier days. We laugh more at Christmas than any other time of the year.

          Laughing together is a good exercise. It helps us “get over” some of the hurts endured in the past and move on. Our family has had its share of brokenness and pain but we continue to surrender our wounds to the Balm of Gilead. Of course nothing improves damaged relationships like a good dose of forgiveness.

          Sometimes forgiveness can take place informally. Two family members may respond to each other with warmth and gentleness that signals a desire for the hatchet to be buried.  Everyone present realizes that forgiveness is being offered and received as a breach is quietly healed. Such moments, though rare, open the flood gates of gratitude in the heart.

          Reconciliation may never come to those who insist on a showdown at the O.K. Corral. If the offended one will let bygones be bygones only if the offender openly admits having been wrong, healing may never occur. The problem with that attitude is that it fails to acknowledge that both parties were at fault. Seldom is it the case that one party is totally responsible for a ruptured relationship.

          Grandparents see things differently from the young. Young people think life will never end; seniors like Mom and me realize that time is running out. We realize the futility of being at odds with family members and friends. Life is short and no time should be wasted by withholding affection until someone else wises up. In the long run nothing is gained by trying to prove that someone else was offensive and needs to say “I was wrong.”

          In some ways we are all wrong so we might as well get down off our high horse and admit it. Laughing together gives us a wonderful opportunity to affirm one another and acknowledge our humanity. The truth is we need each other and we can show that we do by simply having fun together.

          For some reason we are more prone to be understanding and forgiving at Christmastime than at any other time of the year. Perhaps that is because of the birth of a child in Bethlehem. When God came down at Christmas as a little baby, he was saying to all of us: “Even though you are sinners, one and all, I love you anyway and I am sending my son to show you how much I love you.”

          Something good happens within a family when its members are able to offer one another “anyhow love” without any strings. I saw that happening this Christmas as we talked and laughed and shared stories. While the children were being children, and while little David was spitting up on everybody’s shoulder, grownups were saying “I love you anyway” without speaking the words.

          There is something wonderful about the way laughter helps us affirm our common humanity and our willingness to strengthen the ties that bind us together in love. + + + +