Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?

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The good news is that I don’t take it personally, although I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wish they were huggers. Regardless, it reminds me of how we used to greet people at business meetings in the “good ole days” when we actually had in-person meetings. If it was people we’d worked with before, I’d be giving everyone hello hugs while you’d be standing there, with your body language “screaming” … “Can we just get straight to business?”

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Body language can be so efficient. But, it is a business meeting.

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But you’re the same way even at family dinners and social events. And on the rare occasion that you do give someone a hug, I always think the recipient should remember it because it’s a really big deal. And sometimes, I even point that out.

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Which usually makes me roll my eyes.

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Hey, I’m just trying to warn them not to get used to it, or even expect it again, so they appreciate it.

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My eye-rolling is not about you; it is about the person wanting to hug me. Especially when they know me, because they must know that hugging is not something I would ever initiate.

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To be honest, I don’t think people think about it. It’s just a warm and welcoming gesture.

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You are right about the thinking part. After all, if someone knows I do not like to hug, but still wants to hug me, that seems rather selfish.

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I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. If you said to them, “Please do not hug me,” and they chose to ignore you, that might be considered selfish. Not to mention, risky.

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Sounds like a personal problem. If they are that insistent on hugging me, then it seems to me that they need the hug.


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Well, if you ask me, the whole topic of hugging has gotten way too complicated. Especially since the pandemic. But I can still remember watching one of Sawyer’s volleyball coaches starting to give her a hug and then stopping.


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Did he suddenly remember that she is not much of a hugger?


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No, it was because it was the beginning of the #MeToo era, and he was being mindful (my word, not his) that his players were teenage girls. And although he knew Sawyer, and me, very well, I guess he thought it was better to err on the safe side.


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The world has changed. But, it does make things more complicated for huggers.


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Sawyer may not be a hugger, but she does make concessions to hugging much easier than you or Natasha, who obviously hate it and would probably outlaw it if possible.


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Now you are the one making the overstatement. I do not hate the concept of hugs. And, there is science behind the importance of hugs, including how they can relieve stress.


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I was just waiting for your non-emotional perspective on hugs.


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And, I respect what they should represent – affection, concern, love, appreciation, or just the joy of seeing someone. For some people, it is easier than words.


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That’s an interesting perspective. And makes me think about how you sometimes will end an email by writing, “With an electronic hug.” It surprised me the first time I saw it, although I immediately liked it. So much so that I now often use it myself.


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I know. I should charge you a royalty fee.


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Cute. But how did you come up with that phrase anyway?


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I know that emails can be very impersonal, and as much as I love bullet points and keeping things very factual, sometimes the recipient needs something more. An “electronic hug” seemed to be a good compromise.



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Well, I love it. As ironic as it is coming from someone who hates to give an actual, in-person, up close and personal, hug.


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Actually, I sometimes do give hugs to people I think genuinely need it. I just hate getting them.

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You didn’t seem to mind the night before Sawyer left for college, and she got out of the car when we were dropping you off to give you a goodbye hug.


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I think I was in shock.


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Well, I know I was …

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo courtesy of Red


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I know that you’ve been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades, and it’s an amazing organization, but I’m not sure why you made such a big deal about the recent Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana chapter ’s dedication of its building. I appreciate that you were part of the planning group, but with all due respect, it’s just a building.

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I don’t expect you to remember that it all started in 1980 when Tommy Austin wanted to do something special for a young boy, Chris Greicius, who was battling leukemia and wanted to be a policeman. That wish became a reality and the start of The Make-A-Wish Foundation.


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That story has always inspired me as it makes you realize the difference that just one person can make. But the building wasn’t named after Chris or Tommy, so I’m still confused.
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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.