National Hug Day

Today is National Hug Day. 

This reminds me of the time I attended a seminar given by Joe Plut, in Brainerd, MN.  It was 1977, and I was all of 9 years old.  My mother was a teacher at the Brainerd Area Vocational School (now called Central Lakes College) and often, I would be dragged to her work, simply due to a lack of babysitters for the few hours after school.   There was a park across the street from the school, but not just across the street. The school sat on top of a hill, which appeared to be a mountain at my 4 1/2 foot  height.  At the bottom was a winding road, and across that was the park with a few pieces of playground equipment. Immediately East of the park was a parking lot, and it too, was another 25 foot decent.  This parking area was for students.  I always thought, what a drag for students to have to hike up all those stairs to want to go school.  They must really like school or my Mom, to be willing to climb those stairs that seemed to go on for miles.

One day, in anticipation that I would be going to the park, my mother escorted me into a classroom instead.  I was instantly irritated and began to sulk as the room filled with adults.  A wild haired gentleman with a bright yellow t-shirt displaying the well-known logo of a smile, entered the room boisterously, loud and too happy for my current mood.   I wanted to go play and felt like I was being punished.  He began speaking of  “love one another” and “be happy” but all I heard was “blah, blah, blah”.  He asked us to stand up and form a circle, my mother grabbed my hand and pulled me out of my seat.  I was feeling this whole thing was not for me, just the adults.  Tears were piercing from the backs of my eyes, threatening to spurt at any moment.  My face flushed as my body heated.  “Why is she making me do this?” I do not know any of these people. Well a few I did, they were co-workers of hers, but most were students and strangers to me.  A rush of insecurity and uncomfortable fear flamed through me as I held back the tears.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw people walk through the circle and hug one another.  Complete strangers touching and hugging each other.  “Is this guy mad?” I thought.  Then I was approached by the speaker.  I froze. I felt my mother’s hand on the back of my shoulder, gently urging me to participate.  Being an obedient daughter, I moved forward into the circle, exposed.  The crazy guy with the wild hair hugged me.  I stood stunned, unable to breathe. And in a split second, the tears poured and I hugged back.  A wave of relief came over me.   At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was because I had done as I was told and my turn was over, or if it was the power of the hug.  After all, he was a stranger, to me.  By the end of this seminar, I knew, it was the power of the hug.  The power human touch can give, compassion in a moment channeled through a simple action.

I have never forgotten the valuable, life long lesson I learned that day, at the tender age of nine.  I carry it with me always and practice it with my own daughter and everyone I meet.  Thank Joe Plut for making this child understand the incredible power I hold within myself to help another with a simple gesture of a hug.

Try it.  Give someone, anyone, stranger or not, a hug and watch the results.  There is no harm, only good in this action.  And to all, on National Hug Day, I send virtual hugs.  To my mother, I send my love, appreciation and massive hugs for the all that you have taught  me.  >HUG<,,20068233,00.html



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