hugging is “aloha”

You know how I can tell that President Obama is Hawaiian? He hugs, a lot.

And by osmosis, Michelle’s Hawaiian too. She hugs as much as her husband, but hangs onto the recipient a bit longer.

I’ve noticed this before, but while watching one newscast of the Tucson memorial for victims of the recent shooting, I carefully observed Obama and his wife as they made their way through the throngs of well-wishers. Their hugs were infused with the “aloha” of the islands.

Growing up Hawaiian, hugging a person as a welcoming gesture, or a parting one, was like drawing breath. Moving forward into someone’s space is akin to bringing him or her into mine. The sensation of bodies touching in “aloha” is pleasant, heart-warming. My guard is down, my mind is open. I want to share the best of me, my “better angels,” as coined by Lincoln in his first inaugural address in 1861. I wish I could rattle off a Hawaiian phrase that would capture the essence of what I mean. Could it be “hoomalemale?” I’m not sure. My mom would have uttered a paragraph of native speak by now. I’ll have to google my ancestral tongue. Come to think of it, I’ve a Hawaiian dictionary somewhere in my house. I’ll post a blog in Hawaiian when I find the book. (Just don’t hold your breath.)

Perhaps because my mom was a native Hawaiian, full-blooded, she came by hugging naturally. And because of her, so did I. Unless I feel a strong vibe from someone, I automatically pull them into a huge hug. Friend or stranger, peon or dignitary, working stiff or corporate CEO, my hugs are the same. I connect on the most basic of human levels, one person reaching out to touch another’s soul in compassion. If I was asked what I liked best about myself, my propensity to hug, everyone, would be my answer.

Until my father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack more than two decades ago, my husband and his family weren’t publicly affectionate. They’ve always been the model of Christian generosity, sharing their home with everyone, making all feel like “ohana,” family. But huggers, not so much. All that seemed to change after my father-in-law was stricken. Not only were hugs given more freely, but saying “I love you” to one another before hanging up the phone has become commonplace. That’s always their reply to me, when I tell them “I love you.”

I’ve even taken to telling friends “I love you.” I think it’s taken them aback. Not all reply in kind. No matter, if I feel like saying it, I say it. I understand that there are differences in culture, and in upbringing. My Brit friend, Sylvia, however, always tells me “I love you” back. I think that’s because she thinks of me like a daughter. Something she once told me. So I make sure I tell her that I love her, like a daughter. One can never have too many mothers, or daughters.

My husband’s definitely grown in displays of affection over the 40 years we’ve been married. He’s had no choice. I’m a relentless hugger, and “masher.” That’s another thing my mom taught me, how to “mash.” She’d smother me with hugs and kisses before I was even awake to appreciate them. At the time, I found her “mashing” a nuisance. I’m sure that’s what my husband and daughter felt at the beginning. Now, they’re resigned to it. But as I’ve aged, I’ve cooled it some. I think good “mashing” requires energy, the kind I still had through the early part of my 50s. Now, I just hug a lot. And I’m so blessed that my daughter’s a big hugger too! That’s my legacy to her, and to future generations of our family.

Maybe we should become a nation of huggers. It’s impossible to hate someone you hug. Hugging slips the switch from distrust, to possibility. Hugging opens you up to listening. Hugging is positive, not negative, energy. Hugging welcomes you like “ohana.” And in God’s eyes, aren’t we all family? We should be, let’s all hug…

sending huge hugs to all of you, my global “ohana”…hugmamma.

33 thoughts on “hugging is “aloha”

  1. When we had an exchange with a French school in the 70ies we learned that our French pals hugged and kissed each other on both cheeks when they met. We were 16 and of course we brought this custom to our school in Germany. First it was strange and everybody stared at us. Today it is usual in Germany too, My generation does it and our son (14) and his group too. Now I learned about the hugging history in Hawai! Thanks for that! Deep in my heart I must be Hawaian, too….
    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland


    • Everyone with love in their heart, compassion for others, and generous with their hugs…is Hawaiian. So you, my friend, are my sister in the…Aloha Spirit. Thank you so much for sharing your story about similar customs among the French and Germans. The things we have in common bring us closer together as inhabitants of the same planet. Our differences flavor our existence, however they shouldn’t create a chasm which separates us forever.

      hugs for visiting…and for leaving such a thoughtful comment…:)


      • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galater 3,28
        I am not so firm with the bible but this is one of my favorites. We should think more about this words and not so much about what may separate us.
        But isn´t it great we have the internet? We can communicate over continents?
        Good night (we have 11:52 pm here) it´s very nice to meet you – virtually!


  2. Well aren’t I lucky that you stopped by my blog so I could connect with you! I love your attitude and outlook on life. Your words and feelings truly speak for your Hawaiian heritage.
    So nice to meet you here.


    • Mahalo for the warm-hearted comment. Seems you’re very familiar with the…aloha spirit. In fact, it sounds as though you’re imbued with it yourself. Hawaiians may have originated the warmth of the islands…but warm, caring hearts are found…the world over. And so, Angeline, I’m very happy to be your…new friend. 😆


    • It seems you’ve got the Aloha Spirit…even though you’re not of the islands. The warmth you speak of is something folks like you come by naturally. You just found a place where others feel as you do…

      aloha and mahalo… 🙂


  3. Hug Mamma, Upon visiting your site and becoming familiar with your love and willingness to embrace (hug) all people, I am nominating you for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award. I hope you will accept the award and nominate others who you think deserve it. I think you may have read the Guidelines for the award, but if you accept the award, please use the Guidelines to share with others. Blessings and Hugs to you, Connie P.S. I look forward to exploring your site and learning more about it and you.


    • Hugs for the honor. I would return the favor and pass along the versatile blogger award, but I see you’ve already had it bestowed upon you. So accept my congrats, however belated. I’ll have to get out my acceptance instructions to transfer both awards to my blog. Pardon the amount of time it’ll take me to get all the technical wizardry sorted out. 😉


      • Glad to know that you have accepted the award. After all, an Aloha Hugger should have a HUG Award. Yesterday I posted an article that included Aloha and its meaning. You might want to check it out: A Hope in a Greeting, Word, or Phrase. I would love to know the meaning from your perspective. I have learned a little about Hawaiian culture/spirituality, and I love what I have learned. I look forward to learning more from you and your site. Blessings, Connie


        • I will be posting about the HUG award very soon. Need to gather my wits about me to get all the details lined up correctly. Takes a little time…and technical know-how. Not something I have in spades. But a little goes a long way…thanks to friends like you. Glad I can enlighten you about my culture…everyone is welcome to partake…of ALOHA… 🙂


  4. I’m from the UK, a mix of English and Welsh – more Welsh than English, but hugging is natural to me too. I can’t understand when people don’t want to. A hug can say so much.

    ((((((Here’s a loooooooooooong one from me to you))))))


  5. Sending huge hugs to the nicest, most positive, and most uplifting blogger on the internet 🙂

    Hope the image is visible above, if not, just copy and paste the web address into your internet browser’s search bar…enjoy 🙂


    • Are you a writer? Your comment leads me to think you are. Whatever the case, I appreciate your comment, and I’m only too glad to have provided the info.

      hugs for complimenting my writing…hugmamma. 🙂


  6. Hugs are such powerful remedies in so many ways. Regardless of the hardship, ailment, obstacle, or disappointment, hugs can always work some magic. And if you’ve ever received a hug from Hugmamma, you know just how special a hug can be. She gives the best hugs EVER! ; ) Hugs to you Hugmamma!!!


    • Awww shucks! You’re not a bad hugger yourself. In fact, you’re great, since you’re learning from a master. ha, ha. But you’re so right about hugs being just the “magic” needed for all kinds of issues, physical or otherwise. So let’s keep spreading the “magic.”

      mine begins with you…hugmamma.


hugs for sharing some brief thoughts...and keeping them positive

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