Thursday, March 17, 2011


Any day is a good day for a hug, but on a cold, late January day, a good, warm hug is more than welcome.  Thus, January 21st is National Hug Day.  We’re talking ‘official’ now: my research tells me that the day is officially recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A hug is one of the best things known to mankind.  Ecologically speaking, its warmth is a renewable source of energy. Psychologically speaking it is a marvelous mood and morale booster.  Physically speaking, we just love the feel of a good, strong hug.

One of my favorite authors is Anne McCaffrey, and I’ve read just about everything she has written.  Unbeknown to me, I waited on her when I was a bank teller back in the early 60’s.  One day I was telling a fellow employee about one of the books I was reading, and she told me that the author was a good customer of ours and had just moved to Ireland.  Every once in a while I think about the opportunities I missed to tell her how much I loved her stories.  She wrote under her maiden name, so I never realize I’d waited on her. In The Ship Who Searched,  a book she co-authored with Mercedes Lackey in 1992, I learned about wonderful Zen Hugs.  These hugs are a relatively little-known phenomenon and should be more widely distributed. 

We are very fond of hugging in our family, and we are very big senders of Zen Hugs. Zen Hugs are “the hugs that you would get, if we were there, if we could hug you, but we aren't, and we can't.”  ‘Zen Hugs’ and ‘I Love You’ end every phone call, every email, and, abbreviated to ZH, every text message.  Every birthday card and every little Post-it gets the Zen Hug finishing touch.  Sometimes we just call them ‘Zenners’.  As holidays or family ‘state occasions’ come due, we anticipate visits from far away family members by counting the ‘sleeps’ until we get ‘real’ hugs. Meanwhile, the Zen variety are just as heartfelt and welcomed.

I think Zen Hugs are wonderful things to explain to children.  They don’t understand the Zen part, and they don’t have to, but they understand hugs and they like the idea that they can get special hugs over the phone. They like to send them too. Zen Hugs are great to send to college students. They are a special tie to home.  Zen Hugs are thoughtful,  inexpensive gifts that mean you really love the recipient. 

For your family living close by, you really should give consideration to giving lots more hugs, especially at this chilly time of year. Why not just stop by for a quick hug? For anyone you love who is further a field, why not start to cultivate Zen Hugs? But beware: they can be habit-forming. 

(originally posted January 21, 2011)

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