Yeah, I’m talking to you over there. You look like a lugger. Front of the room with the rest of us luggers. There’s safety in numbers, you know.
As for the rest of you, I can tell you’re all huggers by the hugfest in the corner. Well, you’re making us luggers twitchy and nervous, so if you could keep your arms to yourself and have a seat, we’ll get started. I’ll wait.
Okay, everyone settled?
My childhood was filled with Sunday family gatherings on the farm. I remember handshakes and ruffles of the hair and chasing after my brother and my four older male cousins. I have no memory of family hugfests or lack of them. In fact, I have no memory of hugs at all.
Sprint forward a few years to my dating years where hugs were a natural part of the dating game. He hugged. I hugged. Maybe we did more but we’re not here to discuss those activities today.
Then I met my future husband. There was nothing unusual about his dating practices, no forewarning that things were about to get very ugly, very fast. We dated, got engaged and even on our wedding day, a happy occasion with everyone hugging everyone else, I failed to foresee the torture about to be inflicted on me.
Alas, I was such a naive young bride. Didn’t know how to separate the white laundry from the red or how to cook a roast. But I digress….
After the wedding, things really started to spiral out of control. We’d visit my husband’s family and friends and they’d greet us with hugs on arrival, hugs on departure, and it seemed, hugs every spare moment in-between.
Yeah, by now you can clearly see that I’m a lugger, not a hugger. I’d rather lug in suitcases or groceries and avoid all the huggy-touchy-feely stuff. Over the years, I’ve learned to plan ahead, coming though the door last, making sure I’m busy with kids or shoes or maybe just checking out a corner of the entryway till the hugs are past and people have moved on. Of course, there are more hugs on departure but I’m ready for that, too. If I can beat my husband to the door, I can be halfway to the car before the hugs start.
But life has a funny way of showing us the important things we’re missing out on. When my parents revealed a past secret and expected a backlash of condemnation, we headed to see them to give them our support. My husband, with his hugfest tendencies, insisted they needed a hug to let them know everything was going to be okay. His suggestion seemed kind of crazy. Just because his family got so much joy out of hugging didn’t mean it would have the same affect on my family. Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures and I decided to heed his advice.
We walked in the door of my parents’ house and I held out my arms. My mom clung to me. My dad clung even harder. Suddenly I understood. The act of the hug didn’t really have anything to do with me. It was all about what I could give in that single moment of physical connection. It was all about showing someone else affection and how much they meant to me.
I admit I’m still a lugger for about fifty percent of the time. But the other fifty percent, I join in and become part of the hugfest, whether it be family or friends or co-workers. Today I can hug them all.
So, are you a hugger or a lugger? What about the other people in your life and how do you deal with those on the opposite side of the fence?
(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)