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?