My Mom wasn’t big on nonreligious holidays but every year she took a lot of pleasure in tricking us on April Fools’ day. She would come into our room just as we were waking up so that we were still groggy. Her classic line was, “What are those red spots all over your face?” We would jump out of bed, run to a mirror, and she would laugh. We fell for it every year. It wasn’t really creative and didn’t take a lot of effort, but it made me look forward to April 1 every single year.
Today, I did the same thing to my son. I forgot what day it was until this morning and, for lack of time and anything better, I used the red spots. Then he pulled a prank on his father. And his sister. And, I’m sure, his friends at school. The pranks were harmless and it broke up the usual morning frenzy and grumpiness in our house. It made me sad that it only comes once a year.
The history of April Fools’ Day is murky. Some people think that it evolved when New Year’s Day changed from April 1 to January 1 in the 1500s. Other sources claim that there’s a reference to it in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1390) that suggests it came about before the calendar change. Whatever the history, I’m glad we have an entire day devoted to harmless pranks. If you have time, check out CNN’s compilation of some of the better online pranks. Petco’s selfie stick for dogs is pretty funny.