Alphabet of Manly Virtues: “T” Is For “Tomfoolery”

11 Jul

(“The Alphabet of Manly Virtues” is a 26 post series examining various character traits of godly men. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday for new posts! To view other entries in the series, click here.)


tYes, tomfoolery! I could have chosen thankfulness, if I wanted to be spiritual. Or tough, if I wanted to be macho. But I want to be me, so let’s talk about tomfoolery.

I did not see much tomfoolery in the home I grew up in. There was a mean streak to the humor, a bite to the words that flew out of people’s mouth, because it came from a place of pain and wounding. The words were meant to hurt, and they did. We may have laughed, but somebody was masking a new wound with their laughter.

So this is what I used to model to my wife and children, a mean spirited humor. An arrogant humor. A humor that propped me up because I was hurting. Eventually, I realized I was hurting those I loved, and stopped.

No jokes. No laughter in our house. Laughter brings pain, and we don’t want pain.

But something was missing, and that something was joy. There had to be a balance between meanness and boring. I didn’t want to be either. Slowly I started to figure it out.

An unexpected tickle fight.

A reminder of a funny moment.

A self-deprecating comment to make sure my kids know that I know I am not perfect.

The jokes about myself was a big one. My family saw that I wasn’t trying to lift myself up by tearing them down anymore. It wasn’t about me feeling better by making them feel worse. I just wanted some joy in my life.

We started telling jokes again, often times bad jokes we attempted to make up on our own. None of us are stand-up comedians, so this never ends well, except for the laughter of the audience. We started wrestling, all four kids against me. Our friends noticed we were a happy family, one who laughs a lot.

God’s timing in these things is so wise. He continually amazes me. A few months after we figured out this humor thing, I started having absent seizures. The easiest way to describe them is to think of a personal pause button. I freeze, while the rest of the world goes on. And sometimes I fall down after I freeze.

We have needed the ability to laugh together. It’s been a dark time. For better or for worse, the role I play in our family is the strong one, the rock, the glue.

Nobody really wants to say this, but I am inconvenient sometimes. Loved, but inconvenient. My ability to lead is being stretched by my inability to drive, to finish sentences, to stand, to work in my office, to take a shower alone.

Because we have learned to laugh as a family, we can laugh even in the midst of these difficulties. Don’t get me wrong. There is fear and concern too. But there are times of levity.

This humor gives us the ability to not be swallowed up by negativity and fear in the midst of what is admittedly a frightening time.

My kids will joke with me that maybe when I have an absent seizure then they can actually beat me at wrestling. I will respond by saying I will still take them down, even without moving.

This tomfoolery allows us to move forward a bit less hindered by fear. To remind ourselves that seizures haven’t  changed everything in our family. That we still have each other. That we still have love. That we still have laughter. Many days, that is enough.

How good are you at tomfoolery?


-Chris Morris

FB Profile

Chris Morris is a CPA by day, but a creative at heart. He loves telling stories to inspire and encourage. He also loves a great cup of coffee, preferably French press. He writes at You can follow him on Twitter or you can find him on Facebook.

13 Responses to “Alphabet of Manly Virtues: “T” Is For “Tomfoolery””

  1. Is Everyone an Idiot but Me? July 11, 2013 at 09:46 #

    I agree, I think Tom Foolery is very important, especially with kids! As someone who also tend toward mean humor, it is a good reminder to balance it out with some self deprecation and goofiness.

    • Chris Morris July 11, 2013 at 09:49 #

      Goofiness is such an important ingredient in our home. For example, I call my daughter the Potato Princess. Many years ago, we were still trying to figure out how to tell if she was ‘out’ of her absent seizures, so we started asking her silly questions. Like, “Are you a potato?”

      For some reason, that question made her laugh hysterically. I mean fall down on the ground and grab you belly it hurts from laughing so hard. That became the question we ask to check if she’s okay after a seizure, and every time she is okay she giggles.

      Now she is the Potato Princess. Ridiculous, inane, and great.

  2. Shelley July 11, 2013 at 12:56 #

    Again, the Lord brings our own actions under the magnifying glass in order for us to look closely at our motives. Teasing is a dangerous thing. It borders on cruelty and demeaning actions towards others. I’ve had to swallow this bitter pill, too. Thank goodness, there’s a better substitute. Now, on with some tomfoolery!

    • chrismorriswrites July 11, 2013 at 13:02 #

      Great point, differentiating between silliness and teasing. We spend a lot of time talking about the difference in our family, because it is so easy to slip into mean spirited banter if we don’t guard our tongues.

      • Shelley July 11, 2013 at 13:15 #

        It gets right to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it?

  3. Christa Sterken (@Csterken) July 11, 2013 at 19:54 #

    This is an excellent and insightful piece. It helps me to see how much of my family’s “joking” that was hurtful was maybe the best they could do in the aftermath of their own childhood. I can relate to the humor in inconvenience. I often feel like one to mine, though your extent is so personal. I had to learn to laugh with my family as they teased me about stopping midsentence and not even remembering for a moment I was talking. When I walk into walls or just tip over and they stop me from falling when I seem “normal”. Or my worst days crawling up the stairs. It is inconvenient. Truth is hard, but humor helps us live well

    • chrismorriswrites July 15, 2013 at 05:36 #

      I LOVE your last sentence. Truth is hard, but humor helps us live well.

  4. annepeterson July 11, 2013 at 21:33 #


    Loved this, tomfoolery and all. I did not grow up with pure humor. It was always at someone’s expense which is really NOT funny. I had an uncle who would come over and he would always put someone down. We’d laugh out of fear we’d be the next target.

    I knew I had broken this unhealthy chain when my family was out for dinner and my daughter accidentally spilled her glass of water. We all just helped her clean it up and no one put her down. No one laughed. I sighed, thinking how different that would have played out at my table when I was young.

    Enjoyed your post, Chris. Really good.

    • chrismorriswrites July 15, 2013 at 05:37 #

      These moments when we realize we have broken the chain of something unhealthy are SO important, SO powerful, SO wonderful

  5. Edmundo December 19, 2013 at 11:36 #

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Thanks
    Regards – Powiększanie penisa; Edmundo,

    • gdavidboyd December 19, 2013 at 15:15 #

      Of course, please share our site with anyone that you know. There is a second website that I run that is for parents of emerging adults at


  1. Alphabet hard | Jaye Em Edgecliff - July 16, 2013

    […] Alphabet of Manly Virtues: “T” Is For “Tomfoolery” ( […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: