Love Out Loud
By Donna L. Scrafano
While we all attempt to survive this pandemic, we can’t deny that life as we once knew it has changed greatly.
In addition to picking up groceries or walking into a store with our masks and armor on, we are social distancing from family and friends or not seeing family or friends who are not social distancing. We are not attending functions. We have to cancel the various events that were newly planned or planned long ago . And we are dealing with a tumultuous time of racial injustice and political turmoil. But there is something even more challenging for me: the absence of hugs and kisses when greeting or leaving family members and friends. After all, I am Italian.
The air hugs, high-fives, and fist bumps are all a reminder of just how really strange the current times are. Rearranging my life to survive this pandemic, although challenging, has not been nearly as difficult as how I needed to change my lifelong social interaction with some loved ones and dear friends. The family I was able to hug and kiss are those I live with. But it was a long while before I was able to hug another daughter, two of my granddaughters, and my great-granddaughter. My great-granddaughter was born just before the pandemic hit. When the enforced isolation began, all face-to-face visiting, hugging, and kissing ended. We visited by standing outside her door. These visits were especially difficult for my daughter, a first-time grandmother.
Another granddaughter was pregnant and delivered during the pandemic. I couldn’t be at the hospital, and there was no visiting at home either. And when my great-grandson was born, most of my direct family members continued to adhere to the health experts’ guidelines. Some, though, started real hugging to celebrate.
So, there are family members who are not as strict at social distancing as I am. What’s one to do? I need to respect their decisions and at the same time they need to respect mine. If they socialize with people who are not in my safe circle, they need to understand that I will need to interact differently with them, if at all, than I do with other family members—I will be hugging and kissing some, but not others. A complicated mess.
As far back as I can remember, the family rule was that you kissed and hugged hello and good-bye when family members arrived and departed. This rule—in my mind, a tradition—has been passed down from generation to generation. In addition to hugging, kissing, and pinching of cheeks, when family arrived there would be endearing terms heard such as “honeybunch.” I can still hear our great-aunt Fanny yelling, as she entered the door, “Where’s my honeybunches?” And our great-uncle Pete would pinch your cheek as he kissed you on the forehead. My children and even my grandchildren, were able to experience this tradition with some of the people who had passed it on to me. I long to continue what I knew as tradition. La Famiglia.
So, where have all the hugs and kisses gone? Some have returned, some are still in the air. However, the love is still there. Now more than ever, I am reminded to show love regardless if we can’t hug or kiss. Smile. Speak terms of endearment. Love out loud.
Photo credit by Shingi Rice (UK) @bluespit #shingirice
Donna began her journey in Human Services in 1983. During the next 35 years she held various positions and formally retired in 2018. She writes on an array of social issues. Donna's relaxation time includes walking her Lab, Roxy, having fun with her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, writing for Silver Sage, spending time with friends and family. Her last full-time position was providing care to her father. Since that has ended, Donna is taking the time to invest in her own self care and interests.