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Another Day in the Country

Hungry for hugs

© Another Day in the Country

We’ve been sheltering in place, a lot of us, and wearing masks, more and more of us, and washing our hands more, hopefully all of us — three standard precautions for stopping the spread of germs, along with having our temperature taken more these days than we’ve experienced in a lifetime.

And, it’s working! According to a report I read in “The Week” magazine, flu cases are down 98% thanks to more people getting the vaccine and more people wearing masks and limiting their exposure.

Perhaps that is a note of caution for ourselves as we head toward the “new normal.” Maybe we need to keep that supply of masks handy, as a regular caution, for when we go into crowded places during the winter, once the scare of COVID has passed.

As the months of isolation grow longer, and travel is still unwise, I find myself restless, hankering for something. I first noticed my stress-induced behavior around food. Doing Weight Watchers, I’d learned a new standard for food portions and a reality check about sugar and butter, and I find myself tempted to fall back into old patterns rather than sticking to the newer, smarter regimen.

Comfort food is not a joke. With every person, I suppose their choice for comfort varies. My comfort food is mashed potatoes and gravy, for starters, followed by creamed peas, fresh bread, cinnamon rolls and cherry pie.

I found myself buying comfort clothes since comfort food was limited — cozy, fleecy, straw-catching sweaters with turtlenecks and hoods. Cleaning out my closet, I struggled to find room for all these furry, soft tops.

“This has got to stop,” I chastised myself.

Why am I yearning for these?

“It’s because I’m hungry for hugs,” I decided.

It’s been a year since I hugged my kids goodbye last January in California. It’s been a year since I’ve hugged my cousins and their kids. We’re a hugging family and I miss that contact, so I’ve ended up buying cozy clothes to take up the slack.

The Scandinavian countries have perfected a simple style of nurturing into an art form. It’s called “Hyggegrok” — a cozy nook — or in Danish, “hygee,” pronounced HOO-gah, which sounds enough like “hugs” in English that we get the drift.

Just by instinct, I’ve created cozy nooks, and virtual hugs, around my house. All it takes is a soft couch with some throw pillows, a soft little blanket, a lamp and a good book. If you don’t have one, make one!

Candles are another way to give yourself hugs. I’m pretty particular about the scent of a candle, if there is any, but the right fragrance never — for me — smells like apple pie, and when you find it, it’s as comforting as a loved one’s hand on your shoulder. To come into my house and sniff the faint odor of sandalwood or patchouli calms my soul. And the light from the candle cheers my heart. Because candles need to be watched, they encourage us to sit a spell, take a deep breath, and relax.

A warm cup of tea or my “Korean” coffee is like a hug. The right cup — with the right sized handle, that’s not too big of a cup, or too awkward to hold —preferably with an optional top to keep in the heat, is comforting, almost like a hug.

Having lost weight, my jeans, once again, feel like a hug instead of like a tourniquet squeezing me around the waist. I have to remember that when I search for more hugs in the cookie jar.

Being read to is like getting a hug, so I’m thankful for my Audible App which I got when the pandemic began. I’ve just finished listening to another book by JoJo Moyes called, “The Ship of Brides,” about girls from Australia marrying English soldiers stationed in Australia, and after the war shipped out on an aircraft carrier to England to meet their husbands — men they’d not seen in over a year and had known only briefly during wartime.

JoJo Moyes’ stories are like warm hugs, too. Heartwarming, as hugs are meant to be.

Strangely, watching the inauguration was almost like a hug. More lovely than I could have imagined, I was proud of our country, our voters able to finally elect a woman as vice president and a woman of color besides. That was like a hug for all the women who fought for the right to actually vote not all that long ago and a hug for all the girls growing up in America —especially for our children of mixed race. The children are our future and we’ve helped make it a little brighter by the choices we’ve made.

So here’s to “HOO-gah!” Hugs to all of you, on another day in the country.

Last modified Jan. 28, 2021

 

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