The Christmas Hug

January 2, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Keith Schell

It was mid-December 2008, getting close to Christmas, and I was working my shift in the city and eager to get out of work to get ready to go home to see my family for the holidays.   

By the luck of the schedule that year, our shift had the misfortune to work until the last possible day before the Christmas vacation. And because of that, I was going to be the last one of my family to make it home for the holidays. 

A day or two before Christmas we finally got to knock off work for the holidays. I went home that evening, had a bite to eat, wound down from the workday, and went to bed. 

I slept in the next morning and when I got up I did some last minute running around to prepare for going home for the holidays. Everything finally taken care of, I loaded up the car with luggage and gifts and headed for home. 

Everyone had already converged at the family homestead for dinner when I finally got home. I walked through the door, stood on the bottom step of the three-step landing in the entranceway to the house, and called out “HEL-LO!” to no one in particular just to let anyone who happened to be in the house know that I was finally home. 

Since our own family dog had passed away by this time, the first one to greet me was my youngest brother’s dog, who trotted out to the top step of our three-step landing, tail wagging, to say hello to me. I always loved being greeted by a happy dog when I came home. I was happy to see her and bent in towards her and gently grabbed her behind the ears, giving them a good scratch, hugging her a bit and quietly talking to her as I did so. 

As I started talking to and scratching my brother’s dog, from another part of the house I heard my 11-year-old niece say “UNCLE KEITH’S HOME!” 

And my 11-year-old niece and my 9-year-old nephew ran out to the top step of the landing, one on either side of their dog, and happily threw their arms around me as far as they would reach.

Suddenly, with my brother’s two young kids and their happy dog, I was in the middle of the best hug I’ve ever received in my life!   

My youngest brother, hearing the commotion at the door, poked his head around the living room corner to see what was going on with his kids and his dog. When he saw what was going on, he just smiled a big smile and went back to what he was doing in the living room.  

I was the meat in a Christmas ‘hug sandwich’, as it were. I revelled in the joy of that happy moment and wished it would last forever.   

But sadly, all good things must come to an end. When that hug ended, I went around the house to greet everyone else who was there and then went into the living room to say hello to my youngest brother. He just smiled and said to me, “You got some lovin’, did ya?” And I smiled, savouring the pure joy of that moment of unconditional love that only little kids and pets can give you and simply replied, “Yep!” 

It was just a little thing, but the memory of that happy little hug is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.

That little group hug of unconditional love was one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever gotten! 

When it comes to a pure emotional pick-me-up, nothing beats the pure joy of greeting hugs from little kids and family pets. 

According to various modern psychology sources, the average person today needs a minimum of eight hugs a day for good mental health. 

In a positive and supportive family atmosphere, everyone can use a hug sometimes. Hugs are very therapeutic and they don’t cost you anything. Hugs have been known to reduce stress, boost the immune system and improve mental and emotional well-being. And who can’t use that nowadays?  

So don’t be chintzy with your hugs, especially around the holidays. Hug your spouse, hug your parents and grandparents, hug your kids and grandkids, and even hug your pets if they are warm and fuzzy and will allow it. Show the people around you how much you love them. 

Christmas time is family time, and time becomes a precious commodity as we age. So take the time to go and hug the people around you who mean something to you. And let them know how much they mean to you before it’s too late. Because, sadly, someday it may be too late.  

(Talk to you later. I gotta go and hug my Mom!)  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!  

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