Life is stern and life is earnest, or so we are told, but of course it isn't, really. Most of the time life is spent keeping ourselves alive (cooking, earning money, cleaning) or amusing ourselves (Angry Birds, football, flower arranging). Sometimes we manage both simultaneously (eating, writing, constructing flat-pack furniture*).
But can't we be stern and earnest and enjoy ourselves?
Yes, but, sadly, the chinwag seems to be going out of fashion. (For non-British readers, a chinwag is a nice relaxed chat or gossipy conversation.)
A chinwag is stern and earnest? Really?
Well, not really. Admittedly you need to put aside sternness and earnestness until you've thoroughly explored what's been going on with the whole neighbourhood and their families even unto the third generation.
The Friendly Gossip by Eugene de Blaas
But then, once that's done, you can get on with earnestly caring for and encouraging all the lovely people - and sternly avoiding the rest.
Thing To Have Today: a chinwag. The word chin goes right back to the Sanskrit hanu. Wag goes back to the Old English wagian, to shake, and is related to the Old Norse vagga, a cradle.
*Actually, possibly not constructing flat-pack furniture.