Funny Things We Have Done
This is part-two of the stupid and funny things Greg and I have done-not only together but individually. The ability to laugh at ourselves brings relief and even respite from stress and we definitely laugh. (see Preventing Burnout and Stupid and Funny Things pt.1) For this episode we’ve again not had to think too hard coming up with things we’ve both done and learned through our experiences. I hope this inspires you to come up with your own that make you laugh and even reflect!
Laughter is a wonderful medicine and you will find many of your stories will be embellished and grow through the years, especially if any kids were involved! We now laugh, just as we saw our parents laugh at themselves. (see Growing Old Together)
#1 Funny Thing: The Lemon Pie with Honey
This instance was back when putting honey in recipes was all the craze as the sweet nectar was supposed to be a healthy food. I was living at home at the time and would purchase it in large five-pound tins. I won’t speak here of the amazingly delicious healthy granola we made, but you have to just imagine this calorie-rich treat baked with honey, oil, nuts and every type of seed you can imagine. I’m sure there were at least 1,000 calories in every small serving.
Our family made pies. It’s was a southern tradition and so we made a fresh pie most days my father was home from the fire station. Then I got this great idea that honey would be an amazing addition to the healthiness of a pie. The funny thing is that it didn’t turn out quite as expected. Imagine lemon meringue pie with a filling with the color of the sort of brownish yellow you may find in a diaper. In addition to the color, it didn’t set right as it was a bit runny.
The disaster was amplified when my father graciously took a bite and my sisters saw my creation. It then became a family decision to not make any pie substituting honey for sugar. The visual of this pie has remained as one of those funny things we can laugh about now but brought surprise and embarrassment at the time. In fact, any time I made a batch of cookies or any other creation that didn’t turn out quite right, the reminder of the lemon pie once again surfaced!
What I learned: To laugh at myself when trying new things. This has served me well when experimenting with new technical ideas don’t go as planned, yet I always tend to learn from those experiences! See Challenge of Technology
#2 Funny Thing: Bon Appétit!
Greg and I were now newly married and we were having company. I was looking forward to impressing them with my culinary skills. One of my sisters had passed along all her recent copies of Bon Appétit magazine, which she used for many of her culinary delights. It was the perfect opportunity to try a new dessert that looked amazing. It was a chocolate roll cake, filled with fresh whipped cream. I was in.
My preparation was complete. The cake was in the oven and I was whipping the cream. I’m not sure what distracted me, but the whipped cream soon turned to butter. This meant a trip back to the store. The next batch turned out, but after adding the few ingredients, it was a bit lumpy. No worries, it would be inside the roll.
Then came the real challenge. Rolling the cake. It’s hard to describe in full detail how the cake-roll looked and I regret having no phones to take pictures at the time. Although, it was probably good because it truly was a funny thing how the mound on the plate looked like chocolate crumbs with off-colored whipped cream dollops. It looked nothing like the picture in the magazine and I had spent literally all day putting it together. I do remember it tasted good, but I told my sister I would no longer need any more magazines.
What I learned: It’s O.K. to decide not to do something you don’t truly enjoy or feel called to do. It’s also important to not compare yourself with others. We all have our unique gifts!
#3 Funny Thing: Crater Lake
We were on a family vacation and our boys were young. It was August and it had been so hot, so traveling to Crater Lake sounded like a wonderful respite. The weather turned out to be very cold with even a bit of snow on the ground. Since we were tent camping, creating a campfire was our first priority and Greg took charge, building a nice-sized campfire. We all loved his idea of putting up a tarp to create a covering over us and was working very well as we huddled around the fire to keep warm.
That was until the rain had accumulated in the middle of the tarp overhead and the weight of it caused all the water to come gushing down at once—right in the middle of our fire! We were all speechless for a moment as the fire was completely doused but then started laughing as it was so unexpected. There was no point in creating another fire at this point. We would keep much warmer in our tent, snuggled in our sleeping bags so that’s exactly what we did. We warmed up even further the following day as we came down off the mountain
What we learned: It’s better to laugh than cry when water douses your fire. It’s a good life lesson when the unexpected happens suddenly.
#4 Funny Thing: Swanson's Fried Chicken
This is not really a cooking story, but a story about graciousness. Greg was working for Campbell Soup Company, Swanson & Pepperidge Farm Division. His job entailed sampling many of the products he was selling, thus our freezer was full.
We knew our minister’s wife was out of town, so we invited our minister over for dinner. I debated what to serve. This may have been after the Bon Appétit disaster, so that would have influenced my decision to serve Swanson’s Fried Chicken. I would merely have to take it out of the freezer and reheat it.
This may sound perfectly logical to some, but Greg and I had both grown up in families where our mothers would often fry chicken in over an inch of cooking oil, with tremendous results. Since our church was at least 2,000 people strong and I was one of the main musicians, it would seem like I would serve more than frozen fried chicken. But from what I remember, our pastor never commented on the chicken and it didn’t seem to make much difference what I served. I am grateful now for his graciousness as I’m sure there were many others who served him with culinary excellence.
What we learned: You are never too big or important to be gracious. The graciousness of our minister was truly extraordinary. See Grateful Heart.
#5 Funny Thing: Toyota Van Heater
We had a converted cargo Toyota Van we drove for years and it served us very well, though it had a couple challenges. One of those were that the air conditioner didn’t work very well when approaching hills when the engine would overheat. We were on another one of our camping trips, this time with one of my sisters and her kids. The cousins wanted to ride together so we loaded them up in our van. The five kids in the back were having a great time and Greg and I started to watch the temperature gauge.
With 90-degree weather, the gauge was rising fast as we were ascending a large hilly terrain. We were going to overheat unless we did something—fast. So we did what we’d always heard worked well, turn on the heater. We told everyone to roll down the windows, which was met with a groan at first, but they soon went on with their jostling and laughing. The temperature gauge kept going up, so Greg and I were really starting to worry. Fortunately, we didn’t blow up the engine before coming down off the hill. The really funny thing was that after exiting the van, the kids commented that the air conditioner wasn’t working well. We just smiled and said we’d look into it.
What we learned: It was a risk to do what we did in turning on the heater, but I felt it actually helped enough to get us up and over the hill. Sometimes you have to take a chance on blowing up an engine, or a project to get where you want to go.
#6 Funny Thing: The Athletic Cup
All of our sons played sports, and this funny thing takes us back to Little League. Purchasing the uniforms for the teams was a big deal and it took some time to gather all the different shirts, pants, socks and belts for three boys. I was by myself with all three boys in the sporting good’s store and left them on an aisle while I quickly ran over to get some of the items they needed.
It seemed a bit too quiet, so I went back to check on them. Now understand that I had grown up with two sisters and had no experience in any sort of athletic team growing up. So imagine my shock to see two of our sons playing catch with hard athletic cups, also called nut cups, down the full length of the aisle, calling out plays. My first thought was complete embarrassment, then I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a totally innocent act on their end but horrified me because of what they were using as a catcher’s device. However, the really funny thing was they were catching every ball, which was quite impressive! We quickly put everything away and I finished my shopping!
What we learned: Sometimes it’s our embarrassment that’s hardest to handle in a situation that’s perfectly harmless. The perspective of not taking life too seriously is helpful! See Perspective in Life.
#7 Funny Thing: Little League Coach
This story is Greg’s when he was coaching Little League Baseball with two of our sons, when ten and eleven years old. There were about seven boys out on the field and Greg was holding batting practice. He hit a fly ball right to one of our boys and as he reached up to catch it, our other son decides to make it a bit more interesting. He threw his mitt right at him, making him miss the ball. This was returned immediately with another flying mitt.
Soon all the boys were throwing mitts at each other and Greg, in a very stern voice said, Knock it off! The boys immediately stopped, but this brought the other coaches running out on the field to scold Greg for raising his voice. They were so into the theory of positive reinforcement and had not seen any of the chaos that had happened. It was embarrassing to Greg and I think he declined from coaching that particular team from then on, which is unfortunate as he was a wonderful coach with so much more experience than any other coach in the league.
What we learned: We learned everyone has their own agenda and many won’t understand our backgrounds and experience. So many are put in positions merely because they say the right things or have a certain manner, but they are not necessarily the best choice. Realizing this helps us move on in life to give more attention to situations where our expertise is understood and appreciated.
What are Your Funny Things?
Can you look back on your life, even the last couple years, and find things to laugh about? I urge you to take the time to do this. Be thankful that you have your memories. Even if circumstances feel less than perfect, you can choose to love, forgive, laugh and remind others of their special worth to you. There are many occasions, and not just holidays, to create opportunities to laugh and share. Make every moment count. (see Making Family Holidays Fun)
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