Free Hugs on Valentines Day / by Charlotte Bassin

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Are you one of those people who doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it’s just one of those Hallmark holidays? Yeah, me too… or I was. I think Scott and I stopped celebrating it early on in our relationship/marriage. I can’t remember how or why but I know I didn’t mind. We should be celebrating our love every day, not just once a year, right? Easier said than done.

Things shifted though when my girls started preschool and they were encouraged to make little heart crafts and tell everyone around them that they loved them. Valentine’s Day got cute and fun! I was motivated to get back into it, for them. I started a tradition of writing them love letters listing all the things that I love about them: their qualities, passions and the things that make them unique.

This year, keeping in mind that my word for 2019 is CONNECT… I added something new to my repertoire. I decided to do a Free Hugs campaign in downtown Golden. I had seen this video years ago and I fell in love with the idea… the simplicity of it, the humanity behind it. It’s the same feeling that has inspired me to make my artistic world maps for the past fifteen years.

I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to do this, but I was committed. I was super nervous when the day came but with the support of the friends who joined me, and with the first hug that I shared with a stranger, those fears quickly subsided. We had a wonderful time and loved spreading joy throughout the streets of our little town. It’s not much, these small acts of kindness, but it’s one step towards making positive change in this world.

You can see it as a Hallmark holiday or you can see it as a day to celebrate family, love, humanity. I choose the latter.