The Clown Nose Remedy

A holiday coping tool

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With the holidays approaching, even under this year’s strikingly different circumstances, interactions with family are likely to occur. If not indoors, then perhaps outdoors or online. And for those folks who have been sheltering/quarantining/living with the same family members for the last 9+ months of the pandemic, shorter, colder days mean even more time cozied up under the same roof.

Which can be great.

Or, the holidays this year could be the trigger that finally causes Mom to spontaneously combust, Dad to move out to the garage, or little Joey to throw the cat into the fireplace. If ever there were a year with fewer Norman Rockwell-style holiday tableaus in play, this is the year.

Every year around this time, my teacher Martha Beck shares a game she created called dysfunctional family bingo. It’s a game you play during holiday gatherings (secretly) with select family members or with friends from afar. To play, you and your friends customize a bingo card with things you’ve historically had to contend with over the holidays. One square might say “Someone cries before noon”, another “Aunt Judy passes out”, another “Lou throws cranberry sauce at Marv”. You get the idea. Whoever gets a bingo or blackout first wins! That said, dysfunctional family bingo is better with bigger family gatherings, which are less likely this year if you’re following recommended guidelines.

So I would like to submit an alternate – the clown nose remedy. For reasons I cannot explain, my husband Andrew has had a lifelong love affair with red clown noses. When a new employee joins his company, part of their orientation includes receiving a clown nose and having one’s picture taken. Every member of our family has clown noses stashed in myriad sock drawers and backpacks. Andrew and I have been married for 28 years, and red clown noses are one of the ways we’ve managed to do that. When we’ve struggled to see eye to eye, or feel a contentious conversation coming on, one of us will open a nearby drawer and nonchalantly don a nose. This is less about sending a subliminal message to the other person, and more about reminding oneself to breathe, keep it light, and maintain some perspective. Recently, we had a “meeting” to discuss finances. You can bet I tossed a clown nose in my bag for that.

Clown noses peppered in strategic places throughout the house serve as helpful reminders to not take ourselves too seriously. We are, after all, tiny beings floating in empty space, in a universe that goes on forever. Clown noses can be powerful reminders of that. Plus, they’re adorable.

Some additional benefits of clown noses include:

  • Lightweight
  • Take up minimal space
  • Easy to find
  • They look good on everyone
  • They look ridiculous on everyone
  • It’s hard to stay upset wearing one
  • Non-addictive
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free
  • Bi-partisan
  • Pets dig them (hey Rudolph!)

Don’t have a clown nose on hand? Let me know and I’ll send you one with a personal note!

Anyone who requests a clown nose by 1/1/21 will be entered into a drawing to receive two hours of free coaching to get 2021 off to a great start!

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