Friday, December 26, 2014

Autism Answer: Lessons And Laughter (aka Chasing Away Holiday Sadness)

What a fun-tasc-ular Christmas Day we had!

Leading up to this holiday there was a subtle but consistent sadness cloud hovering in my peripheries. Three of my four sons are far away, the rest of family is scattered and we were unable to plan a messily noisy coffee flowing food filled gathering of us. This isn't the first year we've had to have Christmas with less of us together, but it is the first year we've tried to accept that this is the new normal.

We are gifted happy choosers, but we are also human. So sadness tempted us.

Luckily, my mom is also a gifted movie maker and family event planner! So she shared with us a finished version of Living with Lynette, the comedy starring family and loosely based on our reality.

SIDE NOTE: The movie isn't available for viewing yet, we got a private screening. Often life is about who you know! Keep that in mind when going after your goals. Don't judge yourself when you take longer than others, and don't judge them for having connections--instead, grow organic friendships in the direction of your dreams! Okay, moving on....

In almost perfect unison around the country we watched the film together. As a family. 

In my home was my hubby, one of my sons, and two of my brothers. What fun!! What laughter!!! What a lot of work my mom did so that we could share our quirky truths with this quirky world!!!!

When the film had ended we sat down to chat, sip coffee, and eat food. We talked about our childhood and memories. But largely, we talked about laughter and jokes.

You see, my youngest brother had a video of himself on his phone he wanted to share because it was so funny. Watching it at first I smiled, then rolled my eyes, then cringed, then offered his phone back to him without finishing. I told him that it wasn't funny.

"Why? It's a joke! I'm pretending to be a mean and angry stupid homeless guy in ugly clothes. It's funny."

"No, it's not. There's no punchline, no reason to laugh except maybe to laugh at the person you're pretending to be. I'm not okay with that."

"Well, I'm not really like this. It's a joke." he defended.

"But remember when you used to be like that? Would you have wanted us to laugh at you? Or are you glad we disallowed it while helping you come up with other things you could do when you felt overwhelmed and angry?"

"I like that you helped me." he conceded.

"And I think it's great that you want to find something funny to do with that energy of yours." I admitted. "But you've got to have a punchline or a reason. Something that draws attention to the reality in a surprising way. We'll laugh with, instead of at. Like in mom's movie. There are lots of jokes about the different brain disorders, in the house and in the neighborhood, but the jokes have punchlines that make us think. They remind us to see the human being behind the challenges, while we're laughing. Does that make sense??"

Both of my brothers seemed to understand, and both of my brothers love to laugh and be funny, so we came up with some punchlines and jokes that we were comfortable with. I pulled in some examples from satirical shows I like to watch, and we talked about the truth that what one person finds funny and okay to laugh about, another may find fault and harm in.

"That's okay. That's actually good." I suggested. "If we don't think about why we're laughing and even grow and change what we laugh at, we're in trouble." I turned and told my youngest brother, "That video you made on your phone was funny to you, and it still may be. You still can make those videos if you want. But now you won't show me because you know I don't like it. And, importantly, you know why. You have a new idea. You might not agree with me or change, but I've given it to you to consider. It's a gift! Laughter is full of gifts!"

Entertainment is powerful, and laughter is telling! There is so much we can talk about and learn if we listen to our laughter!

SIDE NOTE: Whether or not you have any interest in watching The Interview with Seth Rogen and James Franco, I like living in a world that would allow it. Even if only so we can not go see it, or so we can organically change our nation's humor by talking about why we do or don't laugh at it.

So, this Christmas Day we laughed that subtle but persistent sadness out of existence! 

We chatted and shared pictures and phoned each other and felt love as big as if we were all together. 

Maybe bigger, because it had farther to go!!

I hope you are enjoying a fantastic fun, love, and laughter filled holiday as well!!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Update: Living with Lynette is now available for everyone!
I invite you to enjoy it with family and friends.

Happy watching!