This has been a hectic holiday season for us. I know everyone probably says that, but that doesn’t make it any less true for us. As you may have read in our previous posts, we have been knee-deep in house projects. Tearing out kitchen walls and fixing plumbing, ripping up carpet and restoring floors, painting, etc. Chaos is the closest way I can come to describing our living state for the past two months. Luckily, we have a roommate who is understanding to say the least. Anyway, we’ve been doing all of this work on our own (with the help of my dad and his tools from time to time) and trying to fit in time to celebrate the holidays. At times, the Christmas festivities that we usually treasure and look forward to every year have seemed like an inconvenience.
So here we are, busy and stressed, and down in the dumps with the winter blues. But we knew that’s not who we are, nor is it the kind of people we want to be – especially as we consider the magnitude of raising a child and instilling values. Enter Brad’s weird obsession with Scandinavian blogs. He recently discovered the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hYOO-gah). Although there is no direct English translation, hygge encompasses concepts such as ‘coziness,’ ‘togetherness,’ and ‘well-being.’ Another blogger described it as “fireplace warmth with candles and family and friends and food, tucked under blankets on a snowy day, cup-of- coffee conversation, scarf-snuggle, squiggly, warm baby love.” Or something like that. To me, it means pressing pause and spending time with people you love and doing things that give you life. So here is a glimpse of our hygge this season:
Drinking hot chocolate by the light of the Christmas tree.
Celebrating Hanukkah and learning about latkes, menorahs, and blessings.
Spending time with family in ugly Christmas sweaters
Laughing and being merry with co-workers and good friends.
Staying up late on Christmas eve to make a traditional tea ring.
Although their days are short and their winters are long, Denmark is known as the happiest nation on earth. I have to believe it is because they are intentional about creating these moments of warmth (more than just physical) and companionship. To borrow words from another blog, “Hygge may be the best example of one people’s power of positive thinking, promoting as it does a mindset that life should be savored, not survived, and that comfort, beauty, and internal and external warmth are the keys to a rich existence on the frozen tundra.”
So in the midst of our holiday (and house project) rush, we set aside time to create these moments. Because although the due date is drawing near, floors and walls and rooms can wait. But people and the relationships we have in our lives should be treasured and treated as a blessing instead of an inconvenience. Hygge is foreign to most Americans, including ourselves, but we are learning. So it’s time to get warm, embrace the Dane within, and get your hygge on.