My beautiful and very special Nana died almost 8 years ago. She was 91. I am not sure if she was a product of her generation, but for most of my life I remember Nana being reserved in how she expressed her feelings. She was loving, no doubt. She was always generous, supportive and kind. Though recalling my childhood, I have memories of conservative shows of love. No big PDAs!

My Nana had 6 children. Those 6 children produced 21 grandchildren, of which I am one. My generation is very demonstrative in our love for others. 21 people who live out loud and love big. Over the years as each of us grew up, a family tradition emerged.

The Tradition

What was this tradition?

I say “was” because it revolved around my Nana, and she’s gone now, but in many ways the tradition lives on despite her passing.

The tradition is what I call the “underarm, all-in, jiggle 'til you giggle, I freaking love you big time” hug.

As each of us grandchildren grew into our adult years, venturing off into the big wide world and creating our own families, our love for our Nana only grew stronger and stronger. Being of the generation who speak their minds, share their hearts and show who they are to the world – we took it upon ourselves to not only demonstrate to Nana physically how much we loved her, but also to teach her how to hug properly!

We didn’t do anything strange like band together and decide it was time to roll out Hug Education. It just evolved that we all hugged Nana in a certain way to show her how much she meant to us. One of my cousins must have started it, and it just snowballed from there.

Whenever it was time to leave Nana’s house after a visit for a cup of tea and a chat, she would walk us to the door and then literally lift her arms up as if to say “I’m ready!” and we would go in for the “underarm, all-in, jiggle 'til you giggle, I freaking love you big time” hug.

It's Never Too Late to Learn

As the years passed, Nana well and truly got the hang of this. Her hulking great 6-foot-tall grandsons would lift her off the ground with those all-in hugs, and she would smile, laugh and bear-hug back with all her might.

Whether you’re 20, 45, 79 or 91, life is short no matter where you stand. Don’t waste a second of it holding back.

Love Big

When you love someone, show them with all you've got…

  • Give them love words.
  • Give them love looks.
  • Give them love actions.
  • Give them love support.
  • Give them the “underarm, jiggle 'til you giggle, I freaking love you big time” hug.

I hereby offer our family tradition, in honor of my Nana, to everyone else. Try it, you might just love it!

  • What are your family traditions that grew out of a love for each other and a love for life?
  • How do you show others you love them?
  • How do you like others to express their love for you?
  • Are you a cuddles addict like me?

Love, Bernadette

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4 Responses

  1. We have a tradition when one of our family is leaving on a long trip/going back to uni etc. We play ‘last touch’. this involves shouting ‘last touch’ and trying to get away before the person leaving can catch you! This happens at airports or around the car if they are off on a road trip. Sometimes it gets really crazy and people think we are all a bit nuts, but there is never really a winner of the game it just eases the tension and sadness of the moment. When my dear Mum died we were all gathered around the hearse as the coffin was loaded and they were about to close the door I leaned in and said loudly ‘last touch’ and it was the perfect way to say good bye to her – my brother and sisters began to laugh and cry at the same time!

    1. Hi Debs, ‘last touch’ sounds hilarious fun and I love that it eases the sadness of the moment and creates smiles. That you were able to have that loving family tradition in one of the toughest moments saying goodbye to your mum, to me that is amazing. Something to treasure, and I bet your mum was smiling down on you! Thank you so much for sharing this. B 🙂

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