This month’s story cast is The Little Jester by Helena Olofsson, and so I have been pondering this whole notion of who are the “jesters” in our world today. Dictionary definition of JESTER: in earlier times, a man whose job was to tell jokes and make people laugh. Hmmm, so would that be our late-night chat show hosts or the cast from Saturday Night Live?
In a recent conversation with a friend who was bemoaning the current political circus, she sighed and said wistfully, “I wish we could just vote for Jimmy Fallon or Tina Fey–at least they do their job and make us laugh!” Her words still make me smile and I do think we would all do well to allow ourselves to laugh more. Many studies now extoll the benefits of laughter. Be it a chuckle or a giggle, a snort or a snigger, or a side-splitting belly laugh, all that jollity is good for us. Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California cite these seven benefits of laughter:
-Lowers blood pressure
-Reduces stress level hormones
-Works your abs
-Improves cardiac health
-Boosts T-cells (T-cells help you fight off sickness)
-Triggers the release of endorphins
-Produces a general sense of well-being
So, in a few weeks, when we gather together to give thanks for our blessings, maybe we should take a moment to give thanks for all those “jesters” in our lives, those good people, like the Little Jester in our story, who make us laugh and forget our troubles for a while.
Oh, and on further research, I found the origin of “jester” is from the Latin word “gesten,” meaning to recite a tale. That was original function of a jester; he was a storyteller. Hmm, so it seems to me that jesters and stories have much in common, in addition to bringing all the above benefits. Laughter and stories also connect us to one another. There is no better way to feel a bond with someone or to break the ice than to have a good laugh together. Some of my favorite picture books that are guaranteed to elicit a giggle or two are:
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin