Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Power of a Hug

So I've been mulling this over for awhile....and I even wrote the idea for this blog a few weeks ago on a grocery list and I've had to hold onto that outdated grocery list ever since.  I finally have a nice quiet morning to sit online and I really want to throw out that piece of paper today, so here I am blogging.  I've shared with a few people the awkwardness of moving back to Canada and trying to figure out greetings again.  In Venezuela I'm used to greeting people with a quick kiss to the cheek....well, more of an "air kiss"....and if it's a friend, that's usually followed by a hug. Of course, coming back to Canada, there's no better way to alienate people than by going around kissing and hugging everyone.  Now I'm confused; do I hug? Shake hands? Do nothing?  When I was talking about this with a friend, they mentioned to me that they felt people don't even shake hands very much anymore.  And I think that might be true, I've had my fair share of awkward, limp, half-hearted handshakes in the the past 4 months. Have I already been in Canada for 4 months????

Two of my best hugging stories came to mind and I thought I'd share them.

A few years ago while I was living in Costa Rica and going to Spanish language school, I went downtown San Jose with a friend, John.  As we walked, we came across a group of people holding "free hug" signs.  Some people were walking a wide circle around the group to avoid a hug, but I just decided that I needed a hug that day and went for it.  I didn't know the guy who hugged me but it was still incredible how great I felt afterwards!  A hug between strangers is a hug in it's pure and simplest form; there is no baggage, no grudges, no history between the two people. And there was something about that hug that was just so awesome.  I think John refused to hug a stranger at first, but as I remember, on our way back, he took the plunge and enjoyed a wonderfully awkward hug too.

Earlier this month I went to Drayton Valley and got to hang out with some of my fave people in the world, the Haazens.  Tanneal and I went shopping one night (yes, in on the edge) and while we were in the grocery store (yes, the grocery on the edge) a little girl with Down Syndrome, probably around 6 or 7 years old gave us a cheery "Hi!!!!" and lunged towards Tanneal going in for a hug.  Her Dad quickly pulled her back and apologized but Tanneal in her awesomeness asked, "Would you like a hug?" while she put the shopping basket down and opened up her arms. While she was getting her hug, I found myself secretly hoping that this girl was feeling generous and I would get to enjoy one as well.  She didn't disappoint!  After the hug-fest, her dad just said "thank you" and we went on our way, smiling.

So, I don't have any big conclusion about these two simple hugs.  I'm sure you can draw your own.  But I will ask, why as adults have we become so stingy with our hugs?  Do you think we are losing the art of hugging?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dreaming of a White Christmas...and hallacas.

As many of you know, I'm now back in Cold Lake, Alberta for my home assignment year.  It's been interesting getting used to being back for more than a week or two of holiday!  The local Walmart and Canadian Tire stores are still quite overwhelming but I'm definitely loving the short amount of time it takes to get around town!  It was a beautiful fall, and it was great to enjoy my first fall season in 4 years!  However, fall leads to winter and winter leads to snow.  There has been snow here for a week or two now and I'm getting re-acquainted with shoveling and  scraping car windows...Winter has lost a bit of it's romanticism for me!  I do look forward to celebrating Christmas with snow, and I pulled out my decorations yesterday in hopes of getting some decorating done this coming week.

Sometimes I look through the Venezuelan news headlines, and this one caught my eye today:  A group of women made the world's largest hallaca!  This is like a tamale, filled with marinated  chicken, beef, pork, as well as raisins, olives, capers etc...every family has their own special recipe.   Around Christmas families make them in large batches and pass them out to neighbours and friends.  It's a delicious tradition!  I was able to make a batch with friends in Venezuela a few years ago...maybe I need to dig those photos out because it was quite the process!  If anyone knows of Venezuelan-Canadians nearby who make them, be sure to let me know!!! :)