I was at the annual family Christmas party last weekend, which means the dessert table had more selection than most buffets and every cheese served as an appetizer came with a story.
But before all the food gets inhaled, you have to say hello to everyone. There were about 30 people at this thing.
It was like, Press Your Luck: Holiday Edition because you never know which relative is fighting a cold and is going to pass it on to you.
In Italian culture, there is a double-cheek kiss greeting that is normally done. That involves two people engaging in a half hug, before kissing the left cheek and then the right cheek.
I say “kissing” but sometimes the angle makes it so you’re making the smooching sound but not actually connecting with the other person’s face.
But all Italians are made differently and it’s hard to know which ones are going for the double-cheek kiss, and which ones are just giving a hug.
Sometimes, I’ll go in for the hug but the grip of the other person isn’t a “hug grip” it’s a “half hug grip” which means they want to do the cheek kiss greeting, so then I quickly have to adjust and play it off like my head didn’t already bypass their face.
I’m telling you, it’s so complicated and unnecessary.
Can we not just hug it out? Hold me for three minutes if you have to.
When I was a kid, I hated when older people did the double-cheek kiss routine with me because their thick perfume would always get all over my face and linger for the next three hours.
And there’d always be those who would say, “I don’t want to get too close, I’ve been sick for a week” and then lean in and transfer their germs to me, anyway.
Excuse me while I go Windex my face.
*Don’t use Windex on your face. That was a joke.
I don’t mind a good hug. Can we stick to hugs? That’s how I greet most people, if not a handshake.
With both those gestures, you kind of mime what you want to do and the other person complies. A double-cheek kiss is a hug that calls an audible at the last second, and if one person doesn’t know it’s coming, awkwardness ensues.
Yesterday, I greeted my Nonna with a nice big hug as I always do, but because of our height discrepancy, when she went to pat me on the back it turned into a few pats on the butt, as if I just hit a walk off home run.
That was a new greeting, but it was from Nonna and Nonna is the best.
Season’s Greetings – they can be complicated, sometimes.
How do you say hello? Do you hug? Is it an awkward wave from two feet away? A handshake?