Wrap YOur Arms Around This

Posted on April 2, 2013 under Storytelling with no comments yet

Wrap Your Arms

The wake is very much an East Coast tradition and is the ultimate gathering spot for small communities. When the deceased is well known and comes from a large extended family, the crowds at the wake can be very large. The only other place that can attract lines as long as at a wake is the drive-through at Tim Horton’s. At a recent wake, the lineup was so large that the funeral home had to reconfigure the room to accommodate the throngs. It was serpentine in shape and forced you to pass the same people more than once. I overheard one gentleman comment; “I haven’t seen you in ten years and now I’ve seen you twice in the last 20 minutes”. What makes an East Coast wake special is the preponderance of hugging which has caused me to ponder this phenomenon. What is the anatomy of a hug?
I have become an observer of hugging over the years, so much so that I think I will apply for a government grant to analyze it further. Let’s face it; there have been grants for stranger things.
The ultimate place to witness hugs is at the arrivals area of an airport. No matter how hard most airports and airlines have tried to spoil the experience of travelling, they cannot take away the inherent warmth of the arrivals area. It is the definition of anticipation. You always see people holding up signs. Some are professional in nature for business travellers, conference attendees or foreign travellers. Much more charming are those handmade signs clutched by small children waiting for a military parent returning home from duty in some far off place or for grandma and grandpa coming for a visit.
Most reunions are joyful but sadly, some are deeply emotional when family members have been wrenched from their daily routines to return home for the funeral of a loved one.
What is it about a hug? What makes it so warm and so heartfelt? A kiss is more intimate and private. Just try telling that to the first girl I tried to kiss. I remember it vividly. I’m sure she forgot it within nanoseconds as being a truly unremarkable experience. She probably guessed (correctly) that she was my first victim. Sort of like kissing a relative that you can barely tolerate.
A hug is different. It is universal. It knows no language, it doesn’t have a color and it doesn’t bear a political stripe. It does not judge on the basis of race, religion or creed and it doesn’t care how smart you are or how wealthy you are. It doesn’t care about body image.
Although it has no language, a hug speaks volumes. “I’m so sorry.” “I love you.” “I missed you”. “It’s so great to see you”.
So the next time the airlines lose your luggage and you’re ready to scream, take a few minutes and walk to the arrival area. The best entertainment you can get, sure to put a smile on your face, is the hugging section.

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