I woke up the morning after our week-end trip to Vulcea with the cozy feeling of being back in familiar surroundings. I was 14 years old and my family had been living in a village in western Romania for about a year. My parents had left for Romanian classes early that morning and I set myself about putting everything back to rights. The doorbell rang and I flew down the stairs. When I flung open the old gate that always stuck I was met with the shocking sight of my neighbor in her apron and shawl holding open a bag that contained the frozen bodies of our beloved pet bunnies.
“Poftiti!” she said as she thrust them into my arms, “I butchered them for you as a surprise!”
As I looked at the two sizzling lumps of meat that had previously been Butterscotch and Oreo, I realized that I believe that to get through life, you’re going to need a good sense of humor. I tried to see the amusing side of the story and was almost able to giggle when I thought about my neighbor who never looks at a lamb without seeing a roast and thought about how confused she must have been when her offering of meat brought about an impromptu funeral service with a bodiless grave.
I believe that humor is essential to life. My parents have taught me well that a bad experience can be turned into a good one with the right attitude and a heartfelt or sometimes shaky, as the case may be- laugh. At their instigation we were able to laugh at many potentially depressing experiences we encountered daily after we moved away from all that was familiar to the land of Romania which my sister fondly deemed “Mania.” Like when we put up our first artificial Romanian-bought Christmas tree and were confronted with its extreme stark, bare, downright stick appearance. At first I was tempted to throw a fit and have a good sulk over not being back in America celebrating with family and a big, bushy, evergreen, but I knew that wouldn’t improve the situation at all. And our Christmas ended up being just fine and filled with memories I’ll laugh about forever.
My parents are strong Christians who have taught me how to follow Christ in the little things of life; and showing me how to be joyful, no matter what the circumstances, is part of that. I believe laughter itself isn’t contagious. It’s one’s ability to see the humorous side of a thing, the ability to lay down the difficulties of life and move on to enjoy and fully experience the joy of the Lord.
I am only 17 years old now and I know that I’ll experience even more difficult situations as I get older that will test my ability to see the humor in them; but I know that no matter what the circumstances, I’ll always believe that laughter is needed to survive.