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This is a very different Thanksgiving. After a brief glimmer of “normal” over the summer, my girls and I are left wanting more: patios, shopping instead of ordering online, and playgrounds to name a few. Now that the school year has begun and cold and flu season is on the horizon, that brief glimmer is fading as quickly as the days are getting shorter.
I want to allow my girls to have playdates, I want to have family gatherings (that aren’t outside and physically distanced), I want to hug people, I would love to go to a concert, or go out dancing. One of my girls desperately wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese. It’s hard for me to reconcile, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like for kids. I feel the heavy weight like someone is sitting on my chest and the almost panic of isolation or quarantine coming.
But today, on Thanksgiving, I am focusing on being grateful. Hopefully, by focusing on the positive today (and moving forward), we can start to change our perspective. I’m thankful that:
- First and foremost, we have our health.
- The schools are open and my girls are back into a routine.
- We have a place to live and food on the table. Through all of this I’ve been able to pay the bills.
- We have some wonderful memories from the summer.
- Technology enables us to still communicate when we can’t visit in person.
- Above all, we have each other, our family and friends.
This Thanksgiving I celebrate with the girls’ immediate caregivers only to respect the COVID-19 guidelines. I will have to get creative, as I have been, about how to make our fall and winter memorable as well. I’m grateful that my girls love being outside which makes all of this easier.
This Thanksgiving should also be a reminder that we can’t take for granted the progress we made over the summer. We can’t let down our guard, we must continue to protect those we love by being careful. And as difficult as it is to do so, remember to be thankful that we have loved ones to protect from this virus.
I am a hugger. When I see friends, I hug them and then I hug them again when I leave. I don’t like fake hugs…you know the kind. Where you barely put your arms around the person and kind of pat them on the shoulders. When I hug, I go all in: arms wrapped around you, big squeeze, cheeks touching. If I care enough to hug you, I care enough to hug you properly.
Since COVID-19, hugs have been in short supply. It’s no longer socially acceptable to hug people (mask or no mask) unless they are in your “bubble”. And even then, you don’t want to hug them in public in case someone sees you and gets all “judgy”.
So where have all the hugs gone? I’ve formulated a working theory. I think the ungiven hugs are stored up in your body, trapped until they can be released. It’s a well-known fact that people need hugs and affection in order to survive. But what happens when you can’t give hugs?
I know there are many reasons, as a 41-year-old woman, that my body might be sore. I sit in front of a computer much of the day, I don’t exercise enough, when I do exercise it’s in spurts and jumps while running after my daughters. But I think my pent up hugs are one source of bodily discomfort. I think it causes strain in your body to keep those hugs inside.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I miss hugs. On the hugging scale, if I’ve missed out on many periodic hugs, can I compensate by hugging one person for a long time? I think the type of hug is also very important. For example, hugs from your children always count for more. Snuggles from a dog or cat are also high on the scale since they don’t ever feel obligated to hug you. I’ve even resorted to sleeping with a teddy bear again just to wrap my arms around something while I fall asleep (sad…or genius?).
I have absolutely no expertise in this matter. I’m not a psychiatrist, I don’t practice physiotherapy or kinesiology, and I certainly haven’t conducted any controlled studies. But remember in a time when hugs are scarce, to hug those in your bubble a little longer and a little tighter. Give a hug to someone who looks like they might need it (as long as you can do so safely). And maybe dig through your childhood things to find your favourite stuffie…or borrow one from your children.
Hugs do your body, mind, and soul a whole bunch of good.