Hugs, Holidays, and High-Fives

My mom recently posted this on Facebook and dedicated it to me:

Before everyone gets all warm and cuddly, please understand this is how this adorable snowman feels to me:

From this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special. I’m so excited… and yes, these are scary.

I have many friends who love to hug.  I’m active in my church, and hugging is a preferred greeting.  I volunteer with Girl Scouts and have worked with many huggers over ten summers working at resident summer camp.  I’ve been hugged thousands of times.  Yet, every time I see a pair of arms opened wide, coming forward for an embrace, my shoulders tense and shrink, and I side-step into a side-hug.  Ninja hugs, in which you attack someone with a hug from behind, are more acceptable because they are a blend of heckling and greeting.

I know I have a personal bubble issue.  I suppose it is because my family is not cuddly.  My youngest sister is the only exception, and she’s eleven, so it’s okay.  However, my family generally prefers to sit on each other, heckle and tease each other, and have a battle of wits, puns, and random pop culture references.  My siblings are generally more hug-friendly than I am.  I know I’m an extreme.

I find casual hugs exhausting.  If I see you every other day, or every week, I don’t want to hug you, no matter how much I like you.  I’ll greet you, I’ll talk to you, but I’d rather not have you go in for a hug.

My greatest trouble is most of my friends know my aversion to hugs, but are warm and cuddly people themselves.  They see me walk in, and then give me a teasing smile before diving in for a hug.  Though I roll my eyes and am uncomfortable, I accept the hug.  Hugging has transferred from a casual greeting to a challenge and a game.  It sometimes because a bragging right.  “I got a hug from Laura today.”

When I meet new people and I’m among friends, some people go in for a hug (this is usually at church functions, where such social behavior is acceptable).  Not wanting to be rude, I accept their embrace, usually with the side-hug-side-step.  This is not always successful, and it becomes a full hug.  My friends will say, “Ooh.  You got a hug from Laura.  You have no idea how special that is.”

While my personal bubble is part of the issue, the main reason I don’t like casual hugs is because I think it takes away the meaning of a hug.  To me, a hug should be a slightly more rare thing, a meaningful embrace when really needed.  Here’s a list of acceptable hugging occasions:

– When parting with a friend who is going to be gone for a long time.

– When meeting a friend who you’ve been parted from a long time.

– Weddings

– Funerals.  This past summer a mutual friend from one of the summer camps I worked at passed away.  Over two days of events, some not related to the funeral, I saw many camp friends I haven’t seen in a year or two.  I gave out numerous hugs.  By the time I returned home, my hug-tolerance-meter was below empty, but it was an important time for hugs and comfort for each other.

– When someone is in dire emotional straits (sobbing, crying, clearly upset), and needs that moment of human contact and warm fuzziness to help them through.  A few years ago, one of my adult sisters was going through a dark period and spent one night sobbing.  I said, “Do you need a hug?”  She nodded.  I hugged her, though I was still stiff and awkward.  Part of the issue, though, is she’s six feet tall and I’m about 5’6″.  It was an extremely awkward hug on my part, which led to her laughing, which did help.  Another sister, who is about six feet tall as well, became the go-to-hugger.

– Grandparents – always have a free hug pass

There are other occasions, but these are the basics.  I also have certain people who have a Hug Anytime pass.  They might not know it explicitly, but they still get free hugs.  (Yes, Heather Feather, that includes you.)

In lieu of hugs, I generally prefer a high-five.  High-five’s are quick, casual, and friendly, without extended contact.  Also, there are thousands of variations, secret handshakes and hand claps that can be performed.  Perhaps that should be a whole blog post of its own.

So, a holiday hi-five everyone!

Side Note:

Speaking of Holidays, here’s a few pictures from the tree lighting ceremony in my home town.


Either my sister is being abducted by aliens, or she’s staring up, fascinated by snow that highly resembles tiny bubbles.

My youngest sister’s school choir sang some friendly carols.  A choir of women between 40 and 60 came out and enthusiastically sang, complete with swaying, hand motion, and multiple parts.  It was more Saturday Night Live than Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but they had a great time and had the crowd singing along.


One of the blurry figures on the stage may be my sister. Look for the squirrely one.

A few little kids were playing around the fountain I was standing by, and a 3 year old boy fell in the water.  He had glasses and was crying as his dad scooped him up.  I’m just glad we’re in Southern California, with 65 degree weather during a dry patch of a rainy day.

A good crowd.  All in all, a good night and a good time.

Side Note 2:

My mom started a blog yesterday: The Nice People Foundation.

This is a foundation she and I started when some organizations missed or didn’t sign up for the gift wrapping table at the local Barnes and Noble.  The Nice People Foundation filled in to assist my sister, who was organizing gift wrapping for the store.  It should be an exciting adventure.

How do you feel about hugs?  What are some of your town’s holiday events?  Are you as excited as I am about the Doctor Who Christmas Special?

Happy December everyone!


23 thoughts on “Hugs, Holidays, and High-Fives

  1. I made a sadface when I saw this post. I think hugs might be one of my favorite things in the world. There’s nothing quite so honest and warm and wonderful. Even strangers are totally welcome hug-recipients from me. There’s plenty of love to go around, and I don’t think we express it nearly as much as we should.

    Of course, it’s all about feeling comfortable, so if hugs don’t do that for you, I see why you would avoid them. Whatever works for you, keep doing that.

    How do you feel about e-hugs? Can I give you one of those?

  2. I don’t have cable so I’m excited for the whole season whenever I can get a hold of it. But the special sounds awesome. Thank you Stephen Moffat.

    I like hugs, but depends on who from. Some people I want to say, “Hey, I don’t know you. Don’t get all huggy with me ’til I know you!” *scowly face* But some friends and especially family get big hugs all around.

    Something that bothers me, though, is incessant hand shaking. I don’t know where your hand has been. And I don’t want to shake it. Let’s just smile and make good jokes and leave the hand shaking to business transactions.

  3. It’s interesting how differently my kids feel about this – and they have the same genetics and were raised with the same parenting strategy! My 14yo is an extreme hugger. The kids at school know if they need a hug to head her way. My 7yo is NOT a hugger. As you know from today’s blog, he greets an oncoming hug with his hands in his pockets. He prefers the fist bump. That’s how we say good night. :)

  4. I agree with you 100%. Hugs should be reserved for those special occasions. They are not an appropriate everyday greeting! I have been accused of being a bit cranky because of that but I am willing to accept it!!

  5. I am also uncomfortable with random hugs. I hated it when I was younger and we would do the line-up hug good bye at family get-togethers. I would hide out at the back of the crowd to try to avoid the hug frenzy. I also have certain people who have a hug-pass with me and my mom is at the top of that list.

    • A hug line is often awkward. Oddly, I’ll hug my mom now and then, but it’s not something we’ll generally do. My grandparents, however, as mentioned in the post, are at the top of my free hug list.

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