Hug while you can

Joan Clayton

My second grade students hugged me as far as they could reach while saying “We have to hug while we can, ’cause we’ll be going to third grade.”
Their hugs gave me the “warm fuzzies,” and they loved hugs from me. Children are great huggers and they love to be hugged back. “A hug a day keeps the doctor away,” they told me. That adage must be true — in 31 years I used only 10 sick days, and those were to stay at home with my own children who were sick.
There is something about a touch, a pat on the back, an encouraging word that makes our days brighter.
My 91-years-young uncle loves to be embraced. When I kiss him good-bye at the rest home, he says, “There’s nothing like a good hug. Come back tomorrow and do it again.”
As I go out the door, another resident holds her arms out to be hugged. Then Miss Clara, a 102-years-young angel, says “Thank you.”
My granddaughters feel safe and secure in our son’s big strong arms. I feel the same way when my husband holds me tight.
Even pets react to “hugs.” Our dog gets hugs when we pat on the head. Our cat hugs when he rubs against us and purrs. Our horse nuzzles with his nose. Pet trainers know the importance of touch and praise with their animals. Should we not know the same with friends and family?
I think arms are for “hugging.” Without arms we couldn’t even hold hands.
Someone has said, “It takes eight hugs a day for one’s well being.”
Hugs can cheer you when you’re down, soothe another’s pain, and bring sunshine to life. A hug can mean more than flowers, cards or gifts. Meeting a friend on the street with a hug makes my day. I love to see my former students. Some are much taller than I am, but that doesn’t stop the hugs. They bring back warm memories that make me happy.
I saw a bumper sticker that read “Have you hugged your kid today?” I like that.
My husband has hugged our grown sons and grandchildren from birth to college graduation, and he is still hugging. We never get too old to give or receive hugs.
I think God gave us arms to hug. When I receive hugs from others, I feel God is giving me a hug too. “God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16 NCV). When we love others, we are expressing God’s love.
One day our youngest granddaughter, who was four at the time, had her arms around herself. “Oh, I love you!” I asked Kallie whom she was talking to. “Jesus, I’m hugging him. He lives in my heart you know.”
The next time you feel down or see someone else feeling down, give a little hug. It will make you both feel better.
“It’s wondrous what a hug can do.
It brings a friend to encourage you.
It lifts you when you’re feeling low
For someone to say, ‘I love you so.’
Reach out today with a hug and see
How happy someone else will be.”
Time goes by so quickly. Like my second graders said:
“Hug while you can.”

Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is:
joan@yucca.net