Hugs and Kisses

Every night, about 15 minutes after he’s tucked into bed, Master Four hollers out, “MUMMY! I need a hug and a kiss!” Never mind that he’s already had two hugs and two kisses from each family member, including the dog. He needs another one. And even though he’s supposed to be in bed for the night, nobody can resist the lure of just one more hug and kiss. So we give in. Every night, another round of hugs and kisses is dispensed. Sometimes, you just need another hug and kiss.

Living down here at the bottom of the world, as we do, it’s not always easy or possible to give hugs and kisses to those we love, particularly if they live in another country. For example, a dear friend of mine has just come back from the holiday of a lifetime – which she spent in hospital in a foreign country, having come down with pneumonia. Her holiday was ruined and she was so disappointed. When I heard what she was going through, all I wanted to do was turn up at her front door with tea and home baking and a listening ear. But she lives in Australia, so I can’t give her a hug and a kiss right now, as much as I would love to.

My sister-in-law turned 30 a few weeks ago, and I lived vicariously through the photos of her birthday celebration that my brother posted on Facebook. It looks like they had a really neat celebration. I wish I could have been there to give her a hug and a kiss, too, but they live in the US. And one of my best friends, who lives in the UK, has given me support and love through an extremely difficult time lately. She and her husband don’t have children of her own, but they’re always sending my kids gifts and showering them with love. Their messages and parcels always seem to arrive just at the moment I’m at my wits’ end with my offspring, taking the pressure off of me and reminding me that my kids really are lovely most of the time. But again – there’s a fairly long plane ride holding me back from hugs and kisses.

I’m acutely aware that the time we have on Earth is limited and should be treasured. But it’s so easy to forget, in the busy-ness of everyday life, that hugs and kisses are limited too. I can tell my family and friends that I love them, but sometimes you just need that hug and kiss – that warmth of touch to remind you that you’re connected; that demonstration of love and caring which can make you feel warm fuzzies inside and tell you that someone loves you. And that can make all the difference. So every night, when my son hollers out that he needs a hug and a kiss, I’ll stop what I’m doing and give it to him. I hope you do the same with your loved ones.

What I’m reading this week: The Joyce Girl, by Annabel Abbs (Hachette NZ $34.99)

In the late 1920s, Lucia Joyce, a talented dancer and the daughter of famed Irish author James Joyce (whose novels you may have read in school, as I did) falls in love with budding writer Samuel Beckett – and starts to fall apart, gradually and then all at once. Taught drawing by Alexander Calder and psychoananalysed by Carl Jung, her life was fascinating and controversial – and tragic, too, as she never seemed able to escape her father’s fame and hold on her. Not to mention the family secrets that she isn’t able to admit, but which haunt her choices… Torn between dancing, wanting to be independent, and her strict (to a degree) Irish-immigrant parents who wouldn’t let her move out on her own and put their desires before hers, it’s no wonder Lucia’s mind unravelled. She’s a sympathetic, heartbreaking character whose frustration and inability to move ahead with her own life may remind you of your own coming-of-age.

Have a great week.
Katherine Granich

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