For Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of having my father, brother and sister-in-law visit with my family and me. Aside from the scrumptious meal we made, pleasing both the omnivores and vegetarians alike, my family is always good for a whole bunch of goofiness. The lot of us are prone to doing and saying the silliest of things at any given time. If it’s a pun, which my father in particular is known for, there’s a lot of groaning. If it’s an activity, though, most of us will join in.
Such was the case when my son who, at age 11, said those words that are like fingernails on a chalkboard, “I’m bored” followed by “What should we do now?” To which I replied, “Pig pile on your uncle!” Without missing a beat, we all clambered across the rug and flumped ourselves on my brother who appropriately yelped and ughed and generally protested all in good fun, while saying, “The runt should be on the bottom!” And I’m thinking, um, my son weighs all of 80 pounds and I don’t want any crushed ribs.
Once we let him free, he told us a tale from his youth (always a good segue from a pig pile). When he was a teenager hitchhiking across the country with his buddy, he was given a ride by a woman driving a pick up truck. In the bed of the truck was a litter of piglets. They were all about the size of a small dog, except for one. The runt. He was about the size of a house cat. And what did the piglets proceed to do when the truck picked up speed on the highway and the wind roared past them? Pig pile on the runt! The whole lot of them clambered on top of this tiny little pig. Why? Most likely to keep him warm. Now isn’t that amazing instinct and family bonding? Yes, I think so too.
Pigs are actually quite amazing creatures, and surprisingly similar to humans. What strikes me the most about pigs is their playfulness. They love to stimulate their brains and can be seen playing with soccer balls, performing tricks, making nests, relaxing in the sun, and even enjoying a massage! They thrive when given new opportunities and survive by bonding with other pigs. A lone pig is not a happy pig.
From the pig pile, I was immediately thrown back into my youth when my brother and I spent time playing together and torturing each other (okay, he did most of the torturing, being slightly older than me). So in the name of good fun, I challenged him to an Indian leg wrestle, which he won.
We all played a game of pretzel.
We made a human machine.
And then we played the group picture making game.
It was the closest I’ve felt to being a kid again in a while – since the last time I saw my brother! When we’re together, fun and playfulness are the operative words. As much as he can moan and groan at my ridiculous suggestions, he can be the most playful of the bunch. And it’s wonderful.
I love my goofball family, and they inspire me to remember how important play is in our everyday lives. For the author in me, that’s an invaluable tool for writing picture books. For the mom in me, it’s a reminder to keep life fun. As a wife, it reminds me how important laughter and play is in a marriage. And as a human, it inspires me to help others feel free and playful and take life a little less seriously.
Life Lesson #14: Let go of your preconceived notions of what’s acceptable and not for an adult, and make a pig pile with your family! Embrace a playful, bonding spirit and see how your heart and mind magically open to each other and to new ideas. It will get your creativity and joy flowing!
Play can also make the drudgery and chores of everyday life a whole lot of fun and silly, like Mrs. Jollybones does in Warren Hanson’s…
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