One of the main reasons I enjoy reading the New York Times is the quirky articles. By that, I mean that the Times-- and the Washington Post to some extent-- frequently explores issues that, at first thought, don't seem significant. But they are, and the Times reminds us of that.
Who would've thought, for example, that hand-holding merits serious attention? True, it is a relationship issue and a behavioral issue and a cultural issue. But it seems so minor. When I think of those kinds of issues, I expect to read about AIDS, or cohabiting, or sex education. Last week, however, the Times reported that the practice of holding hands is being studied.
I'm glad. Hand-holding is something I have experience with! On my first date many years ago, the boy I was with asked if he could hold my hand. How quaint, how sweet, you might think. But at the time I thought, How yucky. It's hard to explain my negative reaction, except to say that his asking took all the romance out of it. A few years later my husband-to-be didn't ask to hold my hand on our first date-- he just reached for it. Much better.
And I always loved holding my children's hands when they were young. I remember walking with my little boy in our small town in England, holding his gloved hand as we ran into a tea shop to waste time and stay warm while his sisters were having their weekly piano lesson. This won't last forever, I thought. Shortly after that, this same little boy was having a fight with his uncle as they toured Framlingham Castle. My brother-in-law instinctively reached for my son's hand. Castle walls can be dangerous places for children. My son was having none of it, and they proceeded to have their own battle inside the castle. (Having already been there several times, I was obliviously browsing in a nearby bookstore, though I may have heard some screams.)
I believe hand-holding is welcomed more often than resisted. Almost nine years ago my family lined up to be seated for my mother's memorial service. I saw my brother take my father's hand just as they began to walk up the aisle of the church. It was my dad's hand and not mine, but I felt reassured. We're together, we're all here for her.
And now studies tell us that holding hands makes us feel more secure and protected. Our brains really like it! I think I already knew that. But it's good to be reminded.