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Deanna Hahn: Give yourself a hand!

Deanna Hahn
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Aug. 13  is my favorite holiday. It’s true, there isn’t much hoopla. In fact, each year I eagerly open my mailbox prepared for the cascade of cards celebrating International Left Handers Day. The next day I peek again, then sigh at the emptiness. The day after that I don’t even exert energy to lift myself from the couch.

It is an unusual holiday. An entire day completely devoted to the Left-Handed People of the World. You might wonder if a half day might be enough. After all, it’s just a hand. But isn’t it true that if an arm is broken, a finger jammed or a wrist injured the first thing we say to the person is “Oh No! Is that your dominant hand?” The translation of that statement reads “Dear goodness, do you need to function in the world using your left hand? Yikes!” So yes, your dominant hand is a pretty big deal.

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We lefties are a hardy bunch. As we write, we continuously bump into the spirals on the notebooks. Our snipping needs are awkwardly met by right-handed scissors. The ink smeared on our pinkie finger is from a pen that has words on it that are meant to be held and read in a right hand. We almost never get to see the design on our coffee cup because it faces the right-handed drinker. Embroidery? Crochet? Sewing? A left-handed teacher needs to coach you as you make your loops in the opposite direction. Don’t take for granted your human powered can opener. It isn’t easy for a lefty to use.

If Amazon had existed when I was in third grade, I would have purchased the Left-Handed Cursive Workbook for my teacher who hoovered over me because my “loops” were “wrong.” I once had a tennis teacher politely suggest I drop the class because I couldn’t serve right-handed. This dates me a bit, but in college I wrote many an essay hunched over an old timey right-handed wooden desk. And lucky me, I once won a guitar that patiently waited in my closet for a right-handed player.

You may interrupt me at this point to mention a long list of famous left handers. I would love to sit in a circle with all the well-known lefties and swap stories of our shared experiences. Lefties are an odd brand of celebrity. Throughout the year, strangers will often point out our left handedness to us as though it just happened and we might be unaware of it. Once, someone told me that they had always wished they had been left-handed, as if I had a rare and mysterious superpower. And maybe I do. My sometimes-scattered brain does allow an ambidextrous approach. I often feel like a lefty flying under the radar.


International Left Handers Day is intended to celebrate the adjustments lefties make every day. Left handers all over the world deserve a day to party. Not a half day, an entire day. But to be fair, everyone adapts to our ever-changing world all the time. The last few years of our lives have been like a basket of folded laundry getting tossed up in the air every day. The same basket. Again and again, over and over. Let’s face it, we have unfolded laundry all over the place and the only thing we’ve consistently done since the beginning of 2020 is to fold it. So, take a moment to celebrate all this shared flexibility. I suggest you give yourself a hefty pat on the back. With your left hand, of course.

Deanna Hahn lives in Rochester with her husband. She divides her time between pondering crosswords, reading books, riding bike and eating candy.

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