PHOTO: M.A./Flickr
Rachael Dupree
December 21, 2018

If you’re like me this time of year, you crave a little bit of cozy. On the days when the weather allows, we get outside to do a little land maintenance or enjoy a quiet walk around the farm, but the shorter days of winter push us indoors for longer periods of time. If I’m not careful, this sudden shift inward can leave me feeling a little blue—though it’s often nothing a nice candle, a cozy blanket and a good book can’t fix.

The Danish people are no strangers to this sensation darkness. Their winter days up north are much darker and longer than those we experience here in Kentucky, but they also have a way of combating the loneliness and cabin fever that can ensue. It’s the idea of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh). Although there is no clear translation for this word in English, it has been defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Sometimes it means relaxed gatherings with friends around a candlelit dinner table. Other times it means pulling on some cuddly socks and crawling into a comfy chair by the fireplace. There is no single right way to find hygge, but as we prepare for the holidays and for time indoors with our family and friends, I’ve made it my mission to create a sense of it in our home.

Daily, we’ve put practices in place that add comfort to our family. A walk at dusk while soup simmers on the stove. Dimming the lights with the setting of the sun, while turning on twinkle lights and lighting our favorite candles. Playing soothing music with acoustic guitars and banjos as we talk about our day and reminisce about the good that the year has brought us. I think these efforts have brought us closer as a family and made us more grateful for the rural lifestyle we’re growing into.

For the new year, we’ll invite friends over to celebrate. We’ve asked them to offer something to further the hyggelig (hygge-like) atmosphere. Some plan to show up in their pajama pants, while others aim to bring warm snacks. I plan to make sure that there are enough blankets to go around, and we’ll play games that will allow us to laugh together. When the clock strikes midnight, we’ll bundle up for a star-lit hike to ring in another year.

My hope for you this holiday season—especially those of you who are missing a loved one or are counting down the days until you can dig your hands back into the earth—is that you find the coziness and comfort of hygge, as well. It doesn’t need to be a huge gesture, just something simple and authentic that will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart as we bring 2018 to a close.


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