Can you get a six-pack from laughter?

Hannah Burlingame/Review Hannah Burlingame’s annual holiday cookie baking with family often turns into a mini concert, complete with horrible dancing and singing. Trying to get cookies out of burning-hot tins does not work well when you are hunched over laughing.

With the holiday season comes plenty of family events ... sometimes, whether I want it to or not. From small gatherings to 30-plus people, there’s no shortage of things to go to. 

Holidays mean food, sometimes drinks and always gifts, but above all, in my family, holidays bring laughter. From a small chuckle to can’t breath, tears running down my face, uncontrollable giggles, these laughs make up for whatever craziness happens.

When all of us “ladies” get together for baking, there is no shortage of laughs. When my little cousin first started helping when she was around 6, we decided it would be a great idea to let her operate the mixer. We learned our lesson real quick that it was a bad idea, when she turned it on high and flour went everywhere. 

Covered in flour I looked at Emma, who had a look of “well, whoops,” and lost it. Trying to clean up flour while giggling doesn’t work very well. 

Emma could also be described as the quietest out of us ladies. However, behind that quiet lurks an evil genius when it comes to one-liners. Out of nowhere she has some comment that has me almost rolling on the floor laughing. I’ve decided she’s always quiet because she’s plotting her next attack. 

We are known to randomly break out in song and dance during the yearly baking adventures. When this happens, our laughs are so loud, the random boys or men in the house come out from wherever they are hiding to investigate the ruckus. 

This year’s concert was a medley of 80s songs, including the great “Don’t Stop Believing,” to which my cousins and I sang out hearts out. 

The belly-aching laughs don’t end with baking adventures. My mom’s side of the family gets together every year, both the extended parts where I don’t always remember who is talking to me, to just her siblings and their families.

When the extended family is together, we all break off into our groups — the Brodeens and the Lindstroms. You can always tell where us Brodeens are because you just have to follow the laughs.

When just my mom’s immediate family is over we always play Trivial Pursuit, boys versus girls. The answers that come out of our mouths when we don’t know the answer range from plausible to “Do you want to repeat that?”

And don’t be the grumbler in the corner saying “I knew that” — your teammates will be coming after you for keeping the answer to yourself.

The past couple years we have had an ugly sweater contest. I was a glorious holiday elf last year, complete with a sweatshirt saying, “I’m not short. I’m just a tall elf.” On my behind I wore a giant tulle bow — complete with bells — that dropped glitter with every step. While everyone laughed at me, I personally thought I looked great. Please read the sarcasm in that statement — my outfit and makeup would make any list of what not to wear.

You see, despite how much my family can drive me insane, the moment that we all start laughing, all the crazy, get-me-away-from-these-people-feelings go away. 

That’s the part I look forward to every year — just getting together with all the crazy nuts I’m related to and having fun — six-pack-creating laughs and all.


—Hannah Burlingame 

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