What do water balloons have to do with anything?


It’s about going just a wee bit out of our way or our comfort zone to create moments that are joyful, giddy gifts for the people around us.

That’s the ending of the story. That’s the punch line. That’s the why.

Now here’s the short story behind it: Last week I was visiting family who live in Ohio. My son, his dad, and Ian (my beau) all traveled with me to stay for a couple weeks.

Ian decided to sneak up to the dollar store and buy a bunch of water balloons. He then spent a long time painstakingly filling them up and storing them in a big tub where no one would see them.

Then, one afternoon when it was sunny and hot, he announced, “Water Balloon Fight!” And we all had dozens of water balloons at the ready for a silly, playful, happy time.

We ganged up on each other; we ninja attacked one another; we got splat-splat-splatted by surprise when we least expected it; we tried to play catch with ’em; we laughed and snorted and hollered and zipped around the yard; and then we ran out of balloons and resorted to dumping buckets of water on one another.

Mostly, we just had lots of plain ol’-fashioned fun.

And why?

Because someone spent about $3 and a chunk of time to plan an experiential surprise gift for us.

You could shrug your shoulders and say, “meh” if you want. But I’m here to tell you that this is the stuff life is made of. This is what makes us feel healthy and vibrant and alive. This is what deepens relationships. (Yeah, that’s right … sneak attacks and splats do indeed foster happier families. Write that down!)

Moments are gifts. And we can intentionally give the people in our lives memorable moments. Just like Ian did for us that afternoon.

It doesn’t take a lot of money. And it doesn’t even have to take as much time as it took Ian to fill up that bucket of balloons. But what it takes is an intention to add some zip-a-dee-doo-dah to life. And the wherewithal to follow through on it.

Don’t wait for someone’s birthday. Don’t wait for a holiday. Don’t wait until the planets line up or you have the time or you’re “ready.” Do it now. Plan some simple extraordinary moment for someone in your life. Then follow through.

And when you do, just watch and see how good it feels to spread some ninja joy!

Summery delights,

P.S. If you decide to bring the magic of water balloons to your own family, here are a few tips:

Buy your water balloons at the local dollar store: they are cheap and plentiful. You don’t need artisanal water balloons!


When you are filling up the water balloons, float them in a big tub (or small plastic swimming pool) of water so they don’t break.


Before the water balloon fight, set some ground rules like “no hitting in the face” or “no running near the spears or hot grill” or “the patio is a safe zone.” This is supposed to be fun; the last thing you want is anyone getting their feelings or body hurt!


If you’re taking amazing slow-mo video of someone getting smacked with a water balloon, keep looking over your shoulder to ensure you don’t get a surprise attack and water on your phone!