the art of silliness

“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”

-Shel Silverstein

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I have recently come to the conclusion that people who don’t embrace silliness forfeit a huge percentage of the joy life has to offer. Silliness is essential to happy days upon happy days. The mundane becomes delightful when you understand the art of silliness.

All my life people have asked me how I get along so well with my siblings. Everyone knows we’re not perfect, and some of us have closer relationships than others, but in general, we’ve always worked well together and been friends. When I was seven and eight we lived on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere. During that time, we had few friends and were only able to see them sporadically. The four of us (there used to only be four, if you can imagine) were not only siblings, but great friends. We did our lessons, chores, adventuring and make belief together. It was lovely.

One of the greatest things we’re still nurturing from those earlier years is silliness. It is also, in my opinion, one of the keys to getting along with one’s family. Silliness isn’t just acting dumb (though a lot of times it is dumb) but intentionally finding humor and joy in small, ridiculous things. I’ll give you some examples.

  • Whenever one of my sisters is sick or has some sort of physical ailment, we always rebuke them for “not making plans like the rest of us.” (Which everyone knows is the reason Beth March had to die.)
  • Making up goofy songs about people or places we pass while driving.
  • Birdie going up the escalator like Buddy the Elf in Macy’s while strangers stared.
  • Looking for the piece of broken sidewalk that resembles a turtle.
  • Pretending to be on Iron Chef while baking cookies.
  • Doing random, annoying things like silently grabbing the elbow of the person sitting next to you at the dining table. Just hold it as you continue to eat.
  • Knocking on the bathroom door and using a fake voice and name when the occupier asks who it is.
  • Leaving funny pictures in surprising places (like that terrifying thumbnail of Dwight Shrute, or the hilarious-looking dog from the shelter ad.)
  • Always singing certain songs together no matter when or where they come on. Our main one is I’m Gonna Be Strong by Cyndi Lauper. You have to have a “microphone” for this (we’ve used kitchen utensils, hair brushes, and yes, tampons.)
  • That time we watched Tombstone and started quoting it for weeks, replacing one word in each quote with the word “stroganoff”=hilarious.
  • Patting a baby’s open mouth as they cry (this makes a funny sound, and usually makes them laugh instead!)
  • Singing background vocals to songs that don’t have background vocals.
  • “Collecting” purple cars (we always tell each other when we’ve seen one.)
  • Nicknames galore.

You get the idea! Any of these things could just be plain irritating if both parties are not using the art of silliness. The art of silliness, at it’s core, is a willingness to find humor or joy in any and every situation. It makes time pass quickly, strengthens relationships and makes you laugh, which is really, really good for you. Being silly turns an ordinary, boring, sad, frustrating day into a day that you’re sad is over. Sometimes I just lie in bed and smile, thinking of all the funny things that were said, the dumb games we played and the way my family made the best of each situation. I think if more people allowed themselves to be silly and allowed others to be truly silly in their presence, their world would be opened up to a million more opportunities for daily happiness and humor and our world, as a whole, would be a brighter place.

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

4 Responses to the art of silliness

  1. Jen September 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Some of my best family memories aren’t the lavish vacations we took (haha, cause there are hardly any!), but the nights around the dinner table making each other laugh so hard that we cried. :) Families that are close and filled with the peace of the Holy spirit have such a joyous freedom to enjoy one another, and it’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing this post, that made me revisit some of those most wonderful days of my silly family’s antics!

    P.S. One silly thing we use to do is name EVERYTHING. Our kitchen radio’s remote was named Chippy. Our wild-foliaged maple tree was named Albert (inspired by Einstein’s hair). Our white, Chevy Blazer was called the White Elephant. And it’s carried over into my new family, and we’ve named our house (50ft camper!) The Wheelburrow. Oh the random silliness.

    • Everly Pleasant September 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Jen, Thank you so much for reminding me! We name everything too! Every electronic, house, landmark of our property! We even have a turkey baster named Mister Baste (inspired by Downton Abbey’s Mister Bates!) Our cars are all named. It’s so much fun…

  2. jessiquawittman September 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Hahaha! We can’t say the word “doe” around my Mom. She starts twirling around and singing the Sound of Music song “Do Re Mi”. If you say it backward, she sings the whole song backward. If you spell it, she spells the song.
    Yah… I grew up in THAT kind of a household… :D

  3. Omily (Naomi Brignola) September 9, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Love this peek into your family :) Reminds me of my family, and since I got married it’s the things like this I miss the most :)

    It does do a great deal in getting along with each other and being best friends with your siblings!

    Second to this you could add a willingness to apologize to siblings going through a sensitive or touchy time if you’ve accidentally hurt them with a silly comment :p

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