Column: Missing smiles, laughter

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Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

We smile when we feel happy or glad to see someone. It makes us feel good to smile, and it makes the receiver feel good, too.

Songwriters and crooners have recognized how important smiles are; there are more than 50 songs that have “smile” in the title – “When You’re Smiling,” “Can’t Smile Without You” and “The Shadow of Your Smile” are just a few. Remember the game show catchphrase, “Smile, you’re on ‘Candid Camera?’”

Since the beginning of masking last year, we are missing smiles in our lives. I wonder how it will affect children who are accustomed to gauging the emotional temperature of their parents by whether they are smiling or frowning. Time will tell.

Let’s move on to chuckles, giggles and laughs. Have you ever thought about the unique laugh that each of us has? It’s almost like a fingerprint that identifies us. Some people have deep belly laughs, while others barely make a sound.

When comedy shows began to air on television in the 1950s (Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Jackie Gleason), they always had a live audience, because the performers needed validation and home audiences wanted to laugh with others. Even before television shows, the comedy radio shows of the ‘30s and ‘40s (Fibber McGee and Molly) realized that audiences wanted to hear laughter, so they played canned laughs.

We all enjoy laughing along with someone. Sometimes we get a laugh from something if we’re alone, but we generally just grin or chuckle until we share the story and can laugh with others.

It’s difficult to imagine life without laughter. The horror stories we’ve read about the concentration camps help us realize how fortunate we are to be able to laugh freely.

The smiles are still there, just waiting to be seen. Don’t give up on sharing your smiles and laughing anytime, just to feel good.


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