Emily Post

‘Tis the Season! Let’s Hug!

This week, I found myself hugging my hair stylist, my nail tech and a friend of a friend who I had met for less than one hour. Last week, I hugged my personal trainer to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving. At a cocktail party about a week ago, I hugged at least 20 people. While the other person often made the first move, I did my share of moving in for the body grab myself.

I admit it — I like all of this hugging. I always loved hugging my parents, aunts and uncles when I was growing up. I love hugging the grandkids and their parents now. Of course, I love hugging Ray and my dog, Lexie, every day.

These days, there is a lot of hugging going on outside of funerals and immediate families. In fact, over the years … the last 10-15 especially, I think – we have gotten used to seeing hugging in all kinds of new situations. Here’s a case in point:

Former U.S. president George W. Bush embraces President Barack Obama during the inauguration ceremony in Washington

A little awkward, perhaps?

Yes, more hugging can lead to more awkward moments. I’ve had a few of those myself.

  • The guy who had a little too much to drink at the cocktail party and decided to give me a full body hug that lasted a little too long. I don’t think his wife was amused.
  • The friend who likes to run his hands up and down my back when he hugs me. Next time, I’m going to ask him what he’s searching for.
  • The friend who hugged me sideways and began to fall … almost taking me with her.
  • The woman I didn’t know who hugged me and gave me an air kiss and then realized she didn’t know me either.
  • And, the guy who planted a big wet kiss on my lips along with the hug. I sincerely hope that doesn’t become a trend.

Hugging old and new friends at parties is one thing. Business environments are a little more confusing. Is it now OK for men and women co-workers to hug? If so, when? What about customers? Are they in the OK “hugging zone”? Who initiates a business hug? What’s the protocol? And what about group hugs?

1923984297_4b4ff39ed2

We seem to need some new hugging rules! Emily Post, where are you?

Speaking of Emily, when I googled “hugging” this video below popped up. It’s about the first hug given to Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, during the football draft in 2010. Social etiquette history in the making! Emily Post’s great, great grandson, Daniel Post Senning, gives his opinion in the video. (Hint: a “bro hug” might be better than a full-on hug).

Hugging isn’t going to go away any time soon. For those of us who like to give and receive hugs, that’s a good thing. But, if you happen to be a hugger hater, or a hugger over-thinker, or an Only When Someone Dies hugger, you might want to reconsider.

Some research suggests that there are health benefits from hugs … reduction in blood pressure, strengthening of the immune system, boosting of self-esteem and relaxation of muscles, to name a few.

And, as we head into the Christmas season, remember:

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange”

de62e8d972c011c25de748f320e29c7e

Happy Holidays! Hugs to all!

Cathy Green

 

Photo credit: here

Are Restaurants Making Us More Disconnected?

By the 70s, like many boomers I was dining out (well maybe not dining but eating out) weekly or multiple times in diners, casual places and sometimes even in restaurants with table clothes and “wine lists”. I try not to think about the wine choices I made then. Based on that great combo of zero knowledge coupled with few funds, I likely wouldn’t cook now with bottles I thought were great then. But life has been good to me and between 1971 when I left college and 2013 I have been to about 2000 or more restaurants from The French Laundry to IHOP.

We have seen the farm to table movement, the energy of the industry and its increasingly sophisticated chefs, plus the public’s enormously changed food consciousness and sense of adventure. Restaurant food continues to get better at all price points.

About five years ago I began to feel something was different about being served beyond the food, decor shifts, menu trends and less formality. And, while there may be greater differences between the top restaurants and all the rest, this feeling was something I experienced everywhere – not just at one or another style of restaurant. But I couldn’t put my finger on it.

About a year ago it came to me. A fundamental way of serving food and clearing tables has taken hold.

Servers move and take plates as the individual finishes — not when all in the party have finished a course and have cued the servers by placing one’s utensils “properly” across the top of the plate. During any given course servers can and will be moving in and out frequently as some finish quickly and others linger over the salad, octopus, duck or sorbet.

While there is likely a long list of reasons why restaurants operate this way now — from keeping the space in front of a guest free of finished/half-finished food, to being more efficient, to letting each patron feel she or he is being paid attention to; to me, it means much more interruption in conversation and much less feeling like we are truly talking and sharing together.

While I don’t often dine with people glued to their phones, it is clear from a quick look around that focusing only on the other diners at one’s table is not a universally shared value. I am not sure that bothers me as much as the servers handling us separately — if an individual is so self-absorbed that she has to be on her phone while she is supposed to be participating in a group event, then she has herself to blame for a lame evening.

But when the servers are hustling about making sure everyone, on their own, is able to move at his or her own pace, then the restaurant is to blame for some of the disconnectedness happening at shared dinners.

Maybe restaurants ought to reconsider this approach and offer patrons an option: “would you like everyone served and cleared together – or each diner handled separately?” God help the family member or friend of mine that suggests it is everyone for himself. With the holidays coming that would be a very self-destructive thing to do.

Additional photo credit: Gordon Stillman

%d bloggers like this: