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Tiny bodies can hold great senses of humor, and that's no joke

April 01, 2005|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

Each year the ladies at my church can be part of our Secret Pal Fellowship. Participants draw a name and secretly send encouraging notes and small gifts to their "Pal" throughout the year.

I really enjoy this program because it encourages people to get to know each other in fun, thoughtful ways.

Even though I've participated for more than 12 years, last year I had an experience that left me - and my family - in stitches.

After a Wednesday night service, I was handed a pretty gift bag bearing my name. The tissue paper was arranged just so, and my kids were anxious to see what was inside.

My husband carried it to the car and said, "This sure is light, hon."

I said, "Well, nice things come in small packages, you know."

When we got home, the kids sat down on the kitchen floor and prepared to open the gift. They pulled out tissue paper sheet after tissue paper sheet until the floor was practically a pastel sea.

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Then they found a note in the bottom of the bag, "And you thought you were getting a gift! April Fool!"

I'm not sure who started laughing first, but we all joined in and could hardly stop.

Always seeking the teachable moment, I told my children that this was an example of a good April Fools' Day joke, because:

A. No one got hurt, physically, emotionally or mentally.

B. The recipients thought it was funny.

C. It took little effort but much thought.

Those are my ABCs of gauging April Fools' Day jokes, although I haven't always been on target.

Take the time years ago when I read this suggestion for playing an April Fools' Day joke on family members: Pull out the shower knob so a person who normally takes a bath gets showered on when leaning over to turn on the water. Remember those kind of faucets? We had one in our bathroom. I knew my mom would be taking a bath that night. Guess what I did? She had worked a long day. Cold water on the back of her neck was the last thing she expected when she bent over to draw her bath. She screamed. Then she wanted to know who was to blame. She didn't think the joke was funny.

Needless to say, I didn't try replacing sugar with salt for the next morning's breakfast. (Yet another suggestion from that same book.) And I decided that perhaps I should leave April Fooling alone.

Then I had kids. They are always trying to trick me with word games or riddles. It's amazing how tiny bodies can hold great senses of humor.

Most kids truly love April Fools' Day because it's a time they can feel smarter than their friends, parents and other adults.

Who hasn't been fooled by, "Oh, there's a spider on your collar!"

As you try to flick it off, the informer says, "April Fool!"

Children probably were the originators of April Fools' Day, according to "A Holiday Book: Spring Holidays" by Sam and Beryl Epstein. The day might have started in India, where Hindus have celebrated Holi, a spring holiday, for many centuries. On this day, boys put colored powder in a blowpipe made of bamboo and then blow the powder at people on the street.

(There's one trick that definitely would not pass my ABC test.)

Perhaps it started in 1564 in France when King Charles IX ordered people to start using a new calendar. Prior to that time, the French celebrated New Year's Day on the first day of spring. This holiday lasted about a week, until April 1, when they gave each other presents.

New Year's Day on the new calendar was Jan. 1. Because the French people did not like this change, they began giving each other trick gifts - candy boxes filled with straw or bouquets made of onions instead of flowers - on April 1.

Here's wishing you a safe and happy April Fools' Day. Encourage your kids to be funny but kind.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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