The multi-grade classroom was buzzing with excitement. December at last! Christmas would soon be here, and this was the week for painting Christmas scenes on classroom windows. Second and third graders, having done this before, were more than happy to work with the first graders.
First, each child created a practice drawing on paper, using the brightest colors possible, which were sure to bring life to the clear glass windows of their church school classroom. Some children chose to work in small groups, while a few others preferred to work alone.
Once the window space was divided to everyone’s satisfaction, the windowsills and carpeting were carefully covered to catch any spills or splashes. At last it was time to begin painting, each child wearing either an oversize painting smock or one of dad’s old shirts.
Before long a manger scene began to appear on one window, a Christmas tree overflowing with decorations on another window. Soon a variety of Christmas wreaths and gift-wrapped presents, shining angels and bright stars, and shepherds and lambs all began to fill the empty spaces. Tempera paint is washable, so mistakes could easily be wiped away and corrected.
Since red and green are the most popular colors at Christmastime, Teacher noticed that some of the children would soon need more green paint. Picking up the large container of green tempera paint to give it a good shake, she never noticed that the lid was not screwed on tightly. Just one vigorous shake of her right hand was all it took for the green paint to erupt like a volcano.
In an instant Teacher turned bright green; well, at least the right half of her did. She was Christmas green from head to toe, right down the middle!
All the happy sounds stopped. No giggling or whispering now. All eyes, large beyond description, and mostly full of questions and uncertainty, stared at the green teacher.
Teacher was struggling to choose how to react to turning green. As she looked through the one green lens of her eyeglasses, all the way down to her one green shoe, she felt pure frustration. But in those few seconds her teacher instincts took over and she realized how ridiculous she must look. She took a deep breath and threw back her head in a hearty laugh. That gave every child in the room permission to join her in laughing uproariously. This was the funniest thing that had happened in their classroom all year!
It is hard to say how long they kept laughing. Some of the children who were still at their desks laughed so hard they fell from their seats onto the floor. And the teacher, who hadn’t wanted to laugh at all, suddenly couldn’t stop laughing. She laughed while she washed her glasses. She laughed while she wiped her one green shoe. She laughed while she soaked her half-green, half-blue sweater in the classroom sink. Everyone laughed until there were no more laughs left.
It doesn’t take a wise man to know that “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22). While one would never laugh at someone who made a silly mistake, it is perfectly proper to laugh with the person who owns the problem.
So next time you’re in the middle of an embarrassing situation and you don’t feel like laughing, try doing it anyway. Laughing is contagious, whatever your age. It will give those around you permission to enjoy a good laugh with you, and you will feel all the better for it.
—This article was adapted from Edith Padfield Galambos’ article “Art By Accident,” on pages 26-27 of the December 25, 2014, Adventist Review.
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