Gestures of fondness: winking and holding hands

Every year, as a New Year’s resolution-of-sorts, I pick a new skill to learn. It’s been everything from mastering apple pies, to shawl making, to learning about brain development, to crockpot cooking, to forcing myself to use the “Help” icon on the computer instead of making my husband or kids solve the problem for me.

But my favorite was the year I resolved to become a good “winker.” Winking is such a great gesture — it’s innocent, it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s funny, and it’s just between the two of you so it has a private specialness to it too.

I have many fond childhood memories of the grownups in my life who were winkers and that’s why I wanted to get good at it. I found that it’s not hard to do but it does take practice to really master a natural and spontaneous wink. When I googled “winking” there were only the simplest of instructions (start out practicing in front of a mirror); it’s really just an eye muscle thing that you have to develop.

Besides all the pleasure it’s brought to me, my eye-winking mastery also paid off last month when I made a short video* for my store for an online contest. When we were making it, the filmmaker, who hardly knew me, asked if I could wink when I delivered a line about magic. Turns out the close-up of the wink is my favorite part of the video.

In my research I didn’t find any winking festivals, societies or a national winking month but I encourage you to add some winking to your friendly exchanges with others; it can really be a day brightener.

And another gesture of fondness that’s alive and well is hand-holding; I think our little corner of the world in Southwest must be the hand-holding mecca of Minnesota. Travel down just about any street, any time of the day lately, and you’ll see folks out walking and holding hands. On a recent Saturday afternoon, as I was traveling my 13 blocks from work to home, I saw eight male-female couples, two gay men, two fathers with kids and one mom-daughter pair walking along holding hands. It was just so darn sweet!

I mentioned my observation to a friend at lunch recently and she said she’d noticed it, too. “But,” she said, “it’s nothing like the hand-holding in Europe. I just love how European women not only hold hands but link arms when they are out together.” Maybe we’re doing more noticeable handholding here in the fair weather months because it’s darn near impossible to do while you are wearing mittens.

Holding hands is one of those displays of affection that most Minnesotans can handle on the comfort-discomfort scale.  It’s such a simple but tender gesture that makes everyone feel connected. So next time you’re out and about with someone you are fond of, reach out and hold hands. Look around and I’ll bet you see plenty of other handholders too. And when you pass them … give ‘em a wink! Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, Harriet and the Parkway will be full of smiles.

* If you’d like to see my fun video wink, go to the Intuit/Quickbooks Small Business Contest website — — and simply search “Fairy Godmother.”  

Terre Thomas owns the gift store, Fairy Godmother in Calhoun Square and she and her family live in the Lyndale neighborhood. She can be reached at [email protected]