One of the side effects of COVID-19 is that people are no longer able to hug, unless the hugger is intimately acquainted with the huggee. Even good friends who in the past I might have greeted with a brief hug, I now only give a a smile and a wink. (Actually, I don’t wink, not the least of which is because I’m unable to wink. But I would if I could. I love a good wink.)
My models were mostly hand-shakers, and not huggers. Nowadays, everyone hugs. I admit that my Get Off My Lawn crabby self has been known to holler at the television when people who are meeting for the first time give one another hugs. Why are you hugging, I will yell at the television. You just met that person. Bill doesn’t approve of my yelling at the television, but he agrees with my sentiment. He too was reared by non-huggers.
Neither my mother nor my father were particularly demonstrative when we were growing up. It was hugs before bedtime, rather than kisses. And while I never doubted my parents’ love for me in the least, there weren’t a lot of I love you’s tossed around. Polish and Swiss genes, donchaknow.
I remember very clearly that after Jen and Leroy got married, Jen started hugging Mom and Dad when saying hello and goodbye. Leroy, being of hispanic ancestry, was a hugger. (I must admit that Jen’s son B.J. inherited the hugging gene, and is about the best hugger I have ever met.) I pointed out to Jen one time that she was the one who broke the “hugging barrier” in our family. She admitted that it was a conscious effort on her part. She had missed the hugging that we used to get from Grammie Gloor (who didn’t get the no-hugging memo), and was determined to break down the Wall Against Demonstrative Love. It worked because before long, we were all hugging one another in greeting and departing.
I was thinking about this the past day because demonstrative love varies among my grandchildren. It even varies within individual families. All the grandkids will hug me; some have to be persuaded a bit.
Here’s what I mean: The other day, Court dropped off the kids to spend the day with us. Of those three kids, undoubtedly Cole is the most affectionate. In fact, he is probably the most demonstrably affectionate of all of my grandkids. That makes me laugh, because Court has dug deeply into his Swiss and Polish roots. Like my grands, he often has to be persuaded to hug.
On the other hand, Cole and Mylee were playing outside on the grass, and I was sitting on the patio reading. Suddenly, Cole left their game and ran up to me and reached for a hug and said, “I love you Nana,” and took off back to his game.
While I think I can honestly say I have never hugged anyone upon first introduction. I will admit that I am more apt to hug now than I was when I was a kid or a young adult. I will also admit that the first time I was able to hug some of my loved ones once the quarantine landed upon us, I literally teared up.
Sometimes I good hug is what you need….