January 21 is National Hugging Day -- Please Don't Hug Me!

Roz Warren

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I admit it. I've never really enjoyed being hugged.

“But everybody loves a hug!” you protest. “Hugging is good for you. It expresses comfort and love. It makes you happy! It reduces your blood pressure and boosts your endorphins!”

Not for me. It's not that I'm afraid of germs. I've never liked being grabbed and smooshed against another person’s body. I'm not cold or unfeeling. I'm just reserved.

But for most folks? The more hugging, the better. Which is why there's a National Hugging Day. Every year on January 21st the act of embracing people is celebrated.

There are hugs that I do celebrate. A hug from a child is always magical. When my grandson races over to give me a big hug, my heart melts. And behind closed doors with my sweetie? There's nothing better than a warm embrace.

But otherwise? I’ve gone through life telling friends and acquaintances that no, I don’t want a hug. They always found it hard to believe. But then? The pandemic happened. And everything changed. Suddenly keeping your distance was a life and death matter.

Now, nobody wants a hug.

I see this playing out over and over while walking in my neighborhood. Somebody moves in for a friendly hug — — and the intended recepient steps back and holds up their hand to signal Back off, buster!

And even though not being hugged works for me? Seeing this makes me sad.

So will social distancing become the new normal? By the time this all blows over, will all the touchy-feely stuff have become obsolete? Will folks come to appreciate navigating social space without being hugged? Will everyone be just like me?

Who am I kidding?

People love to hug. And that’s worth celebrating. By January 21st next year, I really hope that this pandemic will be a distant memory, and that I'll spend National Hugging Day getting hug after hug after hug.

It’ll be a small price to pay.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.

Bala Cynwyd, PA
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