I come from a family of huggers, especially on my mom’s side. From my earliest memories, whenever we went to visit relatives and close friends everyone gave and received big hugs. It just seemed the natural “thing to do” when greeting friends and family. So when I started dating Ken, the man who became my first husband, I was surprised when I realized that his Scandinavian parents did NOT hug. I, of course, didn’t want to seem out of place, so I learned their custom and never tried to hug them when we visited. I still vividly remember the time when Ken enlisted in the Air Force and had gotten orders to leave for Japan. He was saying goodbye to his mom at the door and she uncomfortably shook his hand and said, “Take good care of yourself, son. We’ll miss you.”
Ken and I were married for 20 years and during that time, even though I felt very close to his mom and dad, I had never exchanged a hug with either of them. I moved to California the summer after we divorced and made a trip back “home” to Wisconsin during the Christmas season. I made a point to go and visit his mom and dad. As I was leaving I decided to make a bold move. I went over to his mom and gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her. At first I felt her body stiffen and then it softened as she hugged me back. Encouraged, I decided to also give his dad a hug. I could almost see the terror in his eyes as I approached, but that didn’t stop me. I gave him a big hug and received the exact same response — first a stiffening and then a softening. It was a magical moment!
From that point on, whenever I visited them, they welcomed my hugs literally with open arms. I only wish I had learned that lesson 20 years earlier and had begun my in-law relationship with a hug!
I encourage you to give someone a hug today! It may be the perfect gift for both of you!