Congratulations to Annie's Lauren on her engagement! Young love makes me at once hopeful for the future and nostalgic for my own family's giddy beginnings. The pronouncements I made! My children would never play with toy guns (no encouraging violence)! We would never go to bed angry! I would always be able to fit into my wedding dress!
Oh, pish posh.
My current pronouncements involve sure-fire ways to stay connected with my young adult children and to build a welcoming homebase that will be a haven for them and their future spouses and children. So when an article about the Danish concept of hygge as "drama-free family time" crossed my Facebook feed, I sat up and paid attention. I knew a little about hygge from Annie. A long, long time ago (seven years to be precise), Annie posted about hygge on Basic Joy. Hygge, pronounced hooga, is all about cozy, relaxed gatherings that focus on enjoying the moment -- the spaces, food, and company. "The Secret to Danish Happiness" calls hygge a "shelter from the outside world."
That. I want hygge -- the coziness, the sheltering, the food. I want all of it.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, I explained the basic principles of hygge to my kids, but mostly I tried to keep the foundational ideas in mind while planning family activities. Also, sometimes I, ahem, gently reminded them when they were acting in an un-hygglig manner. Maybe I'm a bit late to the game to raise my children as Danish prodigies, but I still find the philosophy helpful in formulating a family atmosphere where everyone feels included and accepted. You can read the entire article here, but the basic concepts are as follows:
- Come as you are. Be authentic. "Competition, boasting, and pretense are not bonding, but rather subtly dividing." So there.
- Don't be controversial. Hyyglig time is not when we should debate politics or philosophy, so in this spirit dispense with any negativity or judgment of other people's ideas.
- Act like a team member. THIS is the best one! Hygge includes everyone contributing to the event and to the conversation. Identify what needs to be done and pitch in without being asked. That seals it. I'm moving to Denmark.
- Respect the hygge. Jessica Alexander explains, "Hygge time is about providing a temporary shelter from social climbing, networking, competition, and materialism." So don't do that stuff!! Really. Just stop.
- Hygge time is special time. And because it is special, it is limited. By demarcating hygge time from other types of interaction, we can stock up on the warmth, love, and appreciation we need to face the outside world. Now that's what family should be about.
Generally speaking, hygge (and my study is admittedly limited), is about appreciating the moment and the simple pleasures of living. It's about the glow of the twinkle lights, the sweetness in a cup of hot cocoa, the warmth of conversation -- all absent of the motivations, competitions, or worries of typical American modern life. And it's about helping others to enjoy those simple pleasures alongside us.
So, not such a big order. Just erase 99% of the cultural norms I was raised on, and I'll be good. What about you? Can we start a hygge movement?