I watched my father eat: turkey, ham, selected pieces of fried chicken, greens, potato salad, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls. There were assorted pies, cakes, and desserts. We all ate like that. It was Thanksgiving. Sometimes Christmas. Sometimes Easter.
Like many Americans creating their versions of a Norman Rockwell painting, we gave thanks for our abundance before washing it down with lemonade (kids) or booze (grownups). Then Daddy rolled from his chair to the floor, landing on his hands and knees and crawling away from the table as children competed for a seat on the human horse.
In those moments, there were no concerns. Racism and segregation were far away from the plate. Family arguments stayed out of the soup. All earthly concerns were buried beneath an avalanche of laughter.
Daddy would throw his head back and release a sound so all consuming—and loud—that everyone was affected. I have inherited his volume. There is no doubt that I am in the room when I laugh. Like his, mine is wall-to-wall laughter. It was infectious. Our knees buckled, our eyes watered, and we almost wet our pants. His laugh carried the good stuff.
Everyone says that laughter is the best medicine. That’s because laughter — real deep down jiggle your insides healing laughter — is synonymous with love. Right?
Exactly. Real laughter comes with love.
There are all kinds of laughter that have nothing to do with love. Or happiness. There’s the forced laughter we hear in business meetings when folks are pretending they want to know who you are, but mainly they want something from you. Then, there’s the dry, scratchy laughter of contempt. (Just think of childhood bullies.) You know these folks when you meet them; there is no mirth in their eyes; no “there” there.
Real laughter rides the wind like bird songs, cricket cries, or the whoosh of waves lapping against the side of a houseboat. Real laughter plays the soul like harp strings. Real laughter melts the heart like warm cherry pie melts ice cream.
Real laughter is passed along like family recipes. When you come from laughter, you give laughter. I hear my father’s laugh in my brothers, my sister, and my nieces (who never met their granddaddy). It’s a rich and sanity saving heritage.
Forget LOL. I think I’ll start signing messages LLOL. Love laughs out loud.