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It takes a good hygge to get over a hard tour

December 29, 2017 by norman lebrecht

10 comments.


Our American violinist in Berlin, Anthea Kreston, hits the end of a tough year.

 

The Danes are a happy, open people. They say the happiest on earth. Spending six days in Copenhagen with my family, we felt more at home than in any city (yet) in Europe. It is like the Portland of Europe. Lots of stunningly pierced and tattooed moms and dads, babies strapped across chests, passing nooks with all manner of foods for sale, book stores, crazy thrift stores, and smiling people aboard city buses, enroute to Tivoli gardens or the living rooms of friends. We decked our little rented apartment out in the teeniest Christmas tree in earth, which we decorated with homemade ornaments.

The Danish concept of hygge, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well being.” This has always come natural to me – everywhere I live I put Christmas lights around the ceilings year-round, the walls are crowded with vintage maps, a pot of some sort of mushy vegetarian thing bubbles on the stove, couches and beanbag chairs are draped with cosy blankets, fireplace glowing. Candles are on the table, tea in the pot, and books are balanced on various surfaces. Our door is always open – we love a full house (our guest room is rarely vacant – our most recent visitor from Corvallis stayed 10 days).

So, hygge (pronounced “hue-guh) follows me. It is this part of me that slowly disappears during tour, my head hitting the pillow of a sterile hotel room more often than I would like – it is hard to keep balance, to remain yourself and have enough of the things that add up to your personal happiness trail mix. But I will work on this when work restarts. I don’t know how to do it – and the balance slips away so slowly that one day, you look into the mirror and notice it is all gone – but now I will try to bring it with me, somehow. Maybe I will bring my knitting with me, sketch book – drink more hot cocoa?

In the meantime, I am savoring my final days as a mom – our Staycation in Berlin includes lots of museums, bakeries, cooking, and dinners with friends. Yesterday was the Espionage Museum, where I even took a turn going through the laser parcourse – tucking in my sweater, I crawled and wriggled my way between the green fingers of lasers as my family jumped and screamed. So now I will trade in my hygge for a little bit of the old gemütlichkeit – spiced warm red wine, anyone?

 


Comments (10)

  1. Bruce says:

    This has always come natural to me – everywhere I live I put Christmas lights around the ceilings year-round, the walls are crowded with vintage maps, a pot of some sort of mushy vegetarian thing bubbles on the stove, couches and beanbag chairs are draped with cosy blankets, fireplace glowing. Candles are on the table, tea in the pot, and books are balanced on various surfaces. Our door is always open – we love a full house (our guest room is rarely vacant – our most recent visitor from Corvallis stayed 10 days).

    I knew it! She’s a hobbit!

    Seriously though, I have heard of people who travel with their own special pillow so they can get a good night’s sleep anywhere (probably less practical now that you have to pack your luggage with surgical precision). I read an interview with Hilary Hahn where she said she makes sure to have a kitchen so she can cook wherever she goes — but of course if she’s playing with an orchestra somewhere, she’s there for a week; so again, maybe not so easy to copy.

    Maybe something like this (I hope the link works) https://www.amazon.com/Travel-Immersion-Water-Heater-Voltage/dp/B000AXS0UE plus a favorite mug and a couple kinds of tea?

    1. Marg says:

      Bruce – always in my luggage in my biz travel days when going to countries I couldn’t be sure would have electric kettles/jugs in the rooms I’d be staying in. Definitely contributes to hygge!

      1. Bruce says:

        To quote from the old Avengers TV show:

        Mrs. Peel: Great minds —
        Mr. Steed: — they certainly do.

        🙂

  2. Philippe Artéaux says:

    Isn’t that all just a b s o l u t e l y luvverly. Reads like a 1960s women’s magazine.

    1. Bruce says:

      And you sound just like a 1960’s man 🙂

      (And by 1960’s man, I mean someone like my father, who, when we were babies, instead of bathing us himself, would drive us 20 minutes to the hospital where my mother worked as an anesthesiologist, so that she could give us a bath.)

  3. Ravi Narasimhan says:

    “The Danes are a happy, open people. ”

    They’ve come a long way since Hamlet.

  4. Hokland says:

    Hamlet being a British play, so yes, definitely,

    On the other hand, we used to rule their waves 900 years ago, so maybe not that far off?

    1. Ravi Narasimhan says:

      Ok, Beowulf, then.

      I thought Hamlet was best in the original Klingon.

  5. Marg says:

    Oh, I know what you mean about the Danes. When I visited a few years ago I felt immediately at home, as if among my own people – they reminded me of the NZers (where I grew up) with their friendly open nature. In my years of business travel, always on the road, I learned the importance of taking along one or two things that would make the hotel room feel less sterile. It doesnt take much but I love the idea of creating your own personal hygge where ever you go. It helps refresh the soul when the going is getting tough.

  6. Sue says:

    For every person with ‘an open friendly nature’ there is another who is private, self-sufficient and happy with his or her own company. These are the people I generally gravitate towards myself. Having just returned from an overseas trip involving a group I found the Christmas crowd of 220 people a complete turn off. My idea of a great evening is 3 or 4 people with stunning conversation and much of interest to say. The rest can bugger off!!


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