Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas and beyond

For years I was one of the writers of “The Spoken Word” for broadcasts of the Mormon Tabernacle choir. I would write a mini sermon every other week or so. At Christmas time I would look for a new insight or perspective on this holy event. The more I looked the more there seemed to be. The humble working folk in the sheep pastures were the first to receive the “tidings of great joy.” The angels gave them and us the proper order to receive the heavenly gifts: First “Glory to God,” then follows peace and good will. Babies are the hope of the world, not the problem. The tiny hands of this little one would one day heal the afflicted and minister to the miserable. This helpless baby would eventually be more powerful than the marching legions of Caesar Augustus and one day conquer every foe, even death. The insights and applications of the brief account in the book of Luke chapter two are limitless.

The venue didn’t lend itself, so I never rhapsodized on the Jolly old Elf in the whiskers and red suit, and his signature greeting, “Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas.”

But the two scenarios may have more in common than I had supposed. “Ho, ho, ho,” can be an antidote for the Christmas stress, blues, disappointment, guilt, and other non festive spin-offs that can afflict us sometimes on this happy holiday.

Dr. Rallie McAllister if Kingsport Texas wrote of the beneficent effects of laughter. Among other things, a burst of laughter sends out electrical impulses that set in motion natural tranquilizers and painkillers, and produce feelings of pleasure and well being.

They also subdue the body’s “fight or flight” reactions. These reactions weaken the body’s defenses and slow down healing. At the same time laughter boosts the body’s immune system and helps protect us from viruses and other ugly bugs.

Laughing is also good exercise. It works the diaphragm, lungs, and abs, the face and chest. It increases the blood’s oxygen level, improves circulation, and blows stale air out of the lungs.

After the knee slapping and wheezing have subsided the body calms down. Blood pressure drops and we relax. Sometimes this contented state lasts for 45 minutes or so.

As with many other virtues, we can improve by emulating children. Three year olds laugh an average of 300 times a day, according to Dr. McAllister. By adulthood we have economized down to a more Scrooge-like daily 15.

Some people mourn over the disconnect between the peace on earth, good will toward men, promised by the angels on that holy night, and the hate and strife so prevalent in the world then as now. Laughter might be an antidote for that. A daily regimen of hearty ho, ho, ho’s, might help us fulfill the promise of the angels. We could at least have more peace within ourselves, and good will to other people.

Have a merry Christmas.