My Uncle Andy recently turned 90, and it was hard to imagine what a guy would like for his 90th birthday.
At 90, getting a lot of new stuff doesn’t sound very appealing. Andy is in the process of getting rid of stuff, a job made more challenging by the fact that neither he nor his wife, Bea, have any children to give the stuff to. Andy and Bea live in the farmhouse where my mom was raised, and we were stumped when the subject of a 90th birthday present came up.
“What does Andy like?” I asked my mom.
“Bad jokes,” my mom answered.
“How about a book of bad jokes? We could make one as a family.”
So I put out the call for bad jokes on the family Facebook page. At first, I heard nothing. I don’t know many jokes, and I was worried I’d have to make a joke book by myself in time for the party in the small country church near the old farmhouse.
Then I got an email from my cousin Sarah.
What do you a call a deer with one eye?
A one-eyed deer.
What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No eye deer.
And the floodgates were opened.
Q: What’s brown and sticky?
A: A stick.”
Who’s bigger? Mr. Bigger or Mr. Bigger’s Baby?
Mr. Bigger’s Baby. He’s just a little bigger.
I was flooded with jokes. I got shaggy dog jokes, knock-knock jokes, and Ole and Lena jokes. I got lots of jokes about farms since Andy is a retired farmer.
What did the cow say to the calf? “It’s pasture bedtime.”
Before it was over, I had a book filled with terrible jokes sent in by Andy’s family. I was glad we had done it, glad my family had come through, glad they’d all chipped in to give Andy something to laugh about on the occasion of his 90th.
The New Year is upon us, and I don’t think I’m the only one who needs a little more to laugh about. I usually have no trouble finding the upside, but lately, there seems to be more bad news than I can process on any given day. It’s easy to believe, looking out on the gray weather and reading the dire news, that this year might not bring all the good things I hope for, that this year might let me down, that there might not be as much to look forward to as there has been in past years.
And I guess that’s where bad jokes come in.
Andy broke his leg not too long ago and is still using a walker to get around. We wonder how long he and Bea will be able to stay at the old farmhouse, outside of town on a lonely country road. But as I sat there watching Bea and Andy laughing at terrible jokes and eating birthday cake, I realized they understood all of this.
Because most of what makes a good year good, and a bad year bad, has nothing to do with the big picture. Most of it has to do with how I feel and behave on any given day, at any given moment. And sometimes, all that is needed to change that moment is a reason to laugh. Sometimes all that is needed is to laugh for no reason at all.
People say they pick their nose, but I feel I was born with mine.
For no reason at all, that made my day.