Cozy And On Trend

On Tuesday, as the temperature declined, winds ramped up and snow came down, was there really any better place to be than indoors?

Not in my book.

Eager-beaver snow boarders, cross country or downhill skiers, ice fishermen and snowmobilers may disagree, but when the frozen precipitation is blowing horizontally and the wind chill is in the basement, a heated room with a view of the blustery scene is best–preferably accompanied by a cup of something hot (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, toddy, take your pick).

Seasonal affective disorder?  No way. In fact, sometimes it seems the opposite for me; I drag through the summer months, under-motivated, over-heated and out-played, only to  awaken on a cool, gray October morning as if from a months-long slumber.

My productivity dramatically increases and I tackle tasks forgotten or pushed aside when the thermometer regularly began topping 70. Similarly, my mood improves with the gathering gloom, the reappearance of woolly throws and the return of sweaters as acceptable everyday apparel.

Sunshine on the snow is mildly depressing, more like a teaser recalling tawnier times and, with wan, thin rays, not quite the real thing.

If it has to be winter, let me enjoy adequate couch time, tucked under a hand-knit afghan with a pile of newspapers and a good book close by, a storm surging outside. Please, keep the electricity engaged and the calendar clear (“…as long as there’s no place to go; let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” music and lyrics credited to the late Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne).

Unbeknownst to me, rather than these preferences branding me a misanthrope or hermit, of late it’s been revealed that I’m…a trendsetter.

Yes, a trendsetter. Haven’t you heard about hygge?

Hygge (roughly pronounced “hue-gah”) is the term Danes use for the very kind of attitude I adopt when the days turn dark and cold. In Denmark, like in the other Scandinavian countries where finding the gumption to love winter is mandatory, hygge is all the rage.

Recently, various media outlets have increasingly mentioned hygge, and the phenomenon rated a full-length feature article in The New York Times’ Dec. 25, 2016, edition.

Listen to this description penned by writer Penelope Green: “How to get hygge? Go home and stay there, preferably in your hyggekrog–a.k.a. ‘cozy nook’–wrapped in a blanket, drinking a cup of coffee and watching a Danish police procedural about a serial killer with your friends.”

Playing games with family members? Very hygge. Hanging out by a fire, whether gas or wood-burning? Also hygge. Wearing soft, bulky sweaters, fuzzy socks and scarves? Hygge, natch. Chowing down on homemade cookies, cake or candy, or cooking up a crockpot full of cheesy potato or creamy wild rice soup? Hygge is written all over that.

Oh, and don’t forget the candles; hygge practically can’t exist without an abundance of them burning, lighting the way through dark winter evenings (er, afternoons and mornings, too).

You get the picture; we Minnesotans have been secret hygge practitioners for a long, long time. While those among us who lay claim to Scandinavian ancestry may have a head start as hygge enthusiasts, one need be of no particular race, color, religion, creed or gender to get in the spirit of hygge.

What a relief it’s been to learn that what Americans sometimes refer to as “hibernation,” anti-social behavior or simply “winter weight gain” was really a “thing” all along.

And not only is hygge a “thing,” it’s incredibly popular! And trendy!

But while suave New Yorkers dressed in chic black designer clothing may have to consciously STRIVE to be hyggelig (can Californians even achieve a true state of hygge?), this is one time we Midwesterners are ahead of the curve. Around here, hygge comes as naturally as the knowledge that every vehicle should be warmed up for at least five minutes from December through March before a driver even thinks of taking a seat.

Pass that slice of cheesecake, pour me another cup of Earl Grey and light the fire. I plan to be absolutely “on trend” all the way through April.