December 17, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Let me make this clear: 
  • Santa Claus is about children.
  • Rudolph is about children.
  • Frosty the Snowman is about children.
  • Christmas is about One child, who came down from Heaven in the most amazing way to save the world, which is even more amazing.

Now that we've established that, one of my favorite Christmas rituals used to be watching the preschool choirs perform at church each December. I admit that I loved it because the kids made me laugh. Preschoolers can always be counted on to do something that older kids know isn't appropriate, from wardrobe malfunctions to hamming up their performances.

I remember a year when I was feeling particularly stressed and depressed as the holidays came closer. One Sunday, I was at church for hours of rehearsals for this mammoth Christmas production we used to do. We took a break so those who were involved with the children's choirs could go upstairs for their Christmas program. Some left for dinner but I went upstairs to watch the kids. I wasn't disappointed.

There was one 4-year-old boy who stole the show. He was towards the back, and yet he performed as though he was the only one there. He waved, he bowed, he may even have picked his nose. He sang louder and with more enthusiasm than all the other kids put together, as if he were the soloist and the rest were his backup singers. The fact that he was singing in front of a crowd in the sanctuary didn't faze him. The fact that we were starting to chuckle, and then giggle, and then laugh out loud didn't faze him. He was singing his heart out for Jesus.

I started laughing early on. During Away in the Manger I laughed so hard that tears began to stream down my cheeks. I couldn't stop laughing but I didn't care. And you know what? The stress I had been feeling began to melt away. I didn't feel depressed anymore. For the first time that year, I began to look forward to Christmas.

They say laughter can heal. Studies show that it boosts our immune systems, boosts our energy, and diminishes pain. Laughter reduces stress, and when people share laughter, it creates a bond. I have no doubt that God enjoys a laugh now and then, and he especially enjoys the sound of our laughter.

That was the last year that the preschool kids sang in big church. I'm not sure what the reasoning was, exactly. Maybe it was felt that a laughing congregation missed the point of Christmas, but we're Southern Baptist for crying out loud. (Although come to think of it, I guess there are a number of theological points that we may have missed along the way so maybe that's a valid point after all. Hmmm.) Maybe there was a fear kids would be traumatized by adults laughing, but I'm sure people laughed at choirs I sang in, but I don't have any lasting effect. (Gee, I wish my eye would stop twitching.)

All I know is that the teachers began inviting parents and any of the rest of us who wanted to hear them to their classes. I went a couple of times, but it wasn't the same.

I was reminded how much I miss the preschoolers during this year's Christmas program. The first graders and older sang, and they did a fabulous job. But despite a couple of wiggly boys, by first grade, kids are generally a little too inhibited, a little too practiced, a little too perfect.

I want to hear preschoolers sing in big church again. I can't help but think that Jesus wants to hear them sing in big church, too. And I bet he'll be chuckling along with the rest of us.


  1. let's start a group to bring back the preschool Christmas programs!

    i miss it, too.

  2. Y'all don't do them either? I thought it was just us. There's nothing like the unbridled joy of preschoolers singing!