The Biggest Hug in the World
Somewhere in a soggy swamp sat Hallee and Geeter, twin alligators of the Florida Everglades.
Geeter was six-and-three-quarters years old. He’s the kind of boy that’s always hungry!
Hallee is Geeter’s twin sister and is six-and-three-quarters years old plus one minute. Hallee adds the “plus one minute” because she was born just one short, single minute before her brother.
Every year for their birthday, Hallee and Geeter’s mom gives them the same sort of present — a pleasant pheasant in a French crescent. For Hallee and Geeter, that’s better than a birthday cake!
Their alligator mom also gives them each a special something that lets Hallee be Hallee and Geeter be Geeter without being “those twin” alligators Hallee and Geeter!
Last year Hallee got a snap jaw for her big trap jaw. See, a snap jaw is a gator toy that makes a loud “SNAP!” sound. Hallee is too little to snap her jaw (to scare the people who come out on tour), but a trap jaw lets her mouth go “A-SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!” This makes the tourists run and the egrets’ wings go a-flap, flap, flap!
Geeter, on the other foot, was given a headdress of swampgrass, reeds, and weeds as a birthday present. A headdress of swampgrass, reeds, and weeds is a sort of hat, and much less a dress, with a tough tuft of grass, a ream of reeds, and a wad of weeds. This headdress of swampgrass, reeds, and weeds helps sneaky Geeter hide in the swamp so he can sneak up on others!
But Hallee and Geeter were having a birthday problem. See, it’s their mom’s birthday, and neither Hallee nor Geeter knew what to get their mom for her birthday. The twins decided to take some time out of scaring birds and little fish to try and figure it
out. . . .
“Mom likes things that are green,” Hallee thought aloud.
“We can get her a frog!” Exclaimed Geeter.
“No. Mom likes to pick out her own frogs,” Hallee told Geeter quite plainly. “But we can get her a purse!”
“No, Uncle Flatfoot, er, took care of that when he tried to cross the road that one time,” explained Geeter.
Hallee thought some more. “Mom likes things with sentimental value. She’s always saying, ‘It’s not what it costs, it’s what it’s worth!’”
“I can give her my first tooth!”
“Ewww! No, Geeter, mom does not want your first tooth!”
“Well,” shrugged the twin boy gator, “I can give her the second one.”
Hallee rolled her eyes, swished her tail, and thought some more. “No. Mom needs something special!”
“Yeah, special! Like a pretty hat or a feather duster or a welcome mat or a spray that’s a gnat-buster!”
“No, Geeter, those aren’t unique. Even if the hat were chic and the spray wreaked, mom still deserves something better!”
“Oh, then I know what we’ll get her! We’ll go buy some cookies and bake them into the shape of her name, ‘mom.’ Then we’ll make her a salamander sandwich on two tree leaves — palm. She’s also complaining about the heat a lot, so instead of letting her lips hurt–”
“We get her some balm?” Hallee asked almost bored.
Geeter nodded happily.
“No, Geeter! We can’t just get her a thing that you can find anywhere. Mom needs something that comes from one place and one place only — in there!” Hallee pointed to the place on Geeter’s chest where his heart is.
So the twins discussed it a little while longer but came to no conclusion. As dusk approached they got so hungry that they had to go home without a present for their mom and have something to eat.
When they reached their home, Hallee and Geeter were greeted by their mom. Mommy gator scooped the twins up in her great maw, tossed them in the air, and caught them in her arms, giving both a great big hug. Then she noticed that her twins had sad expressions on their faces. “Why do you both look so sad?”
Neither Hallee nor Geeter answered.
“The crocodiles weren’t making fun of your noses again were they?”
The twins shook their heads “no.”
“Then tell your mother what’s wrong.”
The twins explained the problem they were having trying to figure out what sort of a birthday present to give her, and they told their mom that they were sad, because, in just a few hours, her birthday would be over, and they’ll have not given her anything.
Still holding her twin gator kids in her arms, Mommy gator laughed, “Silly lizards!” (Although alligators aren’t actually lizards, she always calls the twins that!) “When I have the two of you in my arms, that’s all the present I need!”
“But we wanted to get you something special!” Geeter frowned.
“We wanted to get you something unique!” Hallee groaned.
“Well I’ll tell you what…You can give me a hug for my birthday.”
“Just a hug?” Hallee sneered.
“It’s not enough!” Geeter feared.
“Then I have a better idea. You can give me the biggest hug in the world!”
The twins’ eyes grew wide, they cocked their heads to the side as that thought sunk in.
Hallee immediately realized that the world is a really big place. She’d only been in her one little swamp all her life, but she’d heard that there were at least six more swamps around her swamp! Now that’s a big world!
Geeter’s thoughts, however, were a little different. He was thinking about the length of his arms. They weren’t very big. Not nearly as big as his mom’s. If he was supposed to give her the biggest hug in the world, would he have to grow bigger arms?
Then both spoke up, “H-how do we do that?”
Mom gator smiled big and said, “Well, it’s still my birthday for a few more hours. I’ll let you both stay up late, so you can take that time to figure it out! Now off to your room.”
So Hallee and Geeter sat quietly in their room thinking and thinking how to give their mom the biggest hug in the world.
Suddenly Geeter’s eyes grew wide, and his tail shot straight up! He quickly grabbed the scissors and folded, several times, the biggest piece of colorful construction paper they had.
Hallee watched, curious, and thought for a moment that her brother had forgotten why they were sitting there in the first place.
Snip, snip, snip. Cut, cut, cut. Clip, clip, clip. Geeter soon unfolded the paper which now looked like a long line of alligators holding hands.
“See?” Geeter yelled proudly.
“All I see is that you’ve learned the scissors aren’t for eating, but I don’t know what that is!”
“You take one end, and I take one end.” Hallee did as her brother suggested. “And now we have a hug that’s bigger than us both!”
Hallee looked doubtful. “I don’t think this is the biggest hug in the world, Geeter.”
Geeter frowned. “Is too.”
“No-o-o. Remember grandma Oola? She was much bigger than that!”
Both Hallee and Geeter sighed and sat back down.
Then Hallee jumped up, excited by an idea she had. It was wacky, it was crazy but not, she thought, all that bad!
Hallee ran over to hug her pillow. Then she ran across and hugged a bigger thing, the bureau! Hallee careened over to the toy chest and hugged each toy, then she hugged her brother (who cringed like a typical boy). She gave the door, the wall, and even the radio a hug. Then it was her snow shoes, the wall clock, and even the rug. Out the window she grabbed a tree, and before they could help it, she hugged a few salamanders — specifically, three. Her brother watched in confusion and awe, as Hallee hugged a log and then hugged a hawk. She ran back and forth, inside and out…hugging everything, including a mouse.
“Stop it! Stop it, sis! Stop it, I say! You can hug it all, but it’s not the biggest hug in the world in any way!”
Hallee scrunched up her alligator face in disappointment and then slouched back down into her chair. “You know what?” She asked. “It’s just not fair!”
And the twins continued to think….
“What if we got a hose and stretched it around her?”
“No,” said Geeter.
“I know,” Hallee shouted, “we can grow our nails real long!”
“Ew. Double no.” Then after a moment of scratching his nose, Geeter’s eyes grew wide, “What if we tied an octopus to–”
Hallee put her hand up to stop Geeter in mid-sentence. “No, Geeter, even a big octopus isn’t that big.”
Geeter was determined now. He was going to come up with the answer. He paced back and forth, and he jumped on the bed, then he jumped down and paced some more. He bit his lip as he thought and then finally it burst out of him. “I got it! I have so got it! I can eat a whole lot and grow and grow and grow some more. And then you’ll do the same, and we’ll be as big as the world and we can hug mom then!”
Hallee smiled. This seemed like a great idea. Why, this even seemed brilliant. She couldn’t believe her brother thought of it. “But there’s one problem,” she quickly came to realize, “We need to do this by the end of the night. And even if we eat a million worm puffs in the next hour, it won’t be enough.”
Geeter snapped his tail in frustration — his sister was right. “What if we just hugged her from now until the next birthday?” He thought.
“We’d miss school,” Hallee explained simply.
“What about blowing up a ball really big?” Geeter asked.
“I’m not really sure how that could help.”
Geeter sighed but then jumped to his feet. “We could scream and yell while we hug her!”
Hallee nodded, “That would be the loudest hug in the world, but not the biggest.” Then she offered to her twin brother what would become their last hope. “I think we have only one choice, brother. We need to travel to the other side of the world and ask an old wise man how to give the biggest hug in the world. Old wise men always know this stuff.”
Geeter bit the inside of his cheek thinking about this. “We have to go all the way to the other side of the world?”
“Yup!” Hallee told Geeter quite sure of herself.
“So when you say the other side of the world, do you mean all the way to the end of that big amusement park? The one with the really big mice?”
“That’s far,” said Geeter.
“But it’s for mom,” offered Hallee.
So, in agreement, Hallee and Geeter began packing their things.
Hallee and Geeter didn’t say anything as they walked past their parents to the front door. They had made their decision and figured, since they knew where the other side of the world was, it wouldn’t take them too long to get there and make their return by the end of the night. But suddenly they were tumbling back on a long tail, and their amused mother was looking at the twins with a smile. “Where are you two going?”
Geeter started to sniffle. Hallee started to whiffle.
Mommy gator looked at both, and each started to cry. The twins teared up in unison, and, mom, she knew why.
She picked the two up into her gator arms of scales and green. And she looked at Hallee. And she looked at Geeter. And she said, “You silly lizards, this is what I mean!”
Mom, she hugged both, both of her little gators. Like it was them, her twins, doing her the favor. She pulled them both near, and pulled them in hard, you could feel it at the South Pole, you could feel it on the North Star. She hugged them tight, she hugged them best — yes, you could feel the hug east and you could feel it west. With her Mom-love she hugged her boy and she hugged her girl, and both knew right then it was, without a doubt, most certainly the biggest hug in the world!
Then Momma gator put her twins down and looked at them silent and pleasant. ’Til she said, “This was the best birthday, and that was the best present!”
Hallee and Geeter were both very proud! They pulled it through, got out from under the dark cloud. And after some more hugs and of course the cake to be had, Hallee and Geeter started thinking about their new problem….
“What’re we gonna get dad?”