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Family togetherness is "hygge"

Marlene Kern Fischer

My family knows that I have recently become a little obsessed with hygge (pronounced HOO-gah). In case you haven’t heard, loosely translated hygge is the Danish concept of finding well-being and satisfaction through coziness and simple things. A more complete definition: “a holistic approach to deliberately creating intimacy, connection and warmth with ourselves and those around us” (“The Cozy Life” by Pia Edberg). Although hygge seems like a brand new answer to the modern world’s stresses and the winter blues, in actuality it’s been around for centuries.

The other day I started thinking about things that are hygge, such as candles, a roaring fire, wool socks, a mug of tea, etc. While creating this mental image of snugness and serenity, I realized that one of the most hygge things is having all your children home, under one roof. Although most colleges are not on break for another month, and my older sons are not home right now, there a few things I would like to say to them in time for Valentine’s Day which I think other parents will understand.

Dear Boys,

When the three of you were young, I took having you all home, safely tucked into your beds every night, for granted. I can recall being so tired at the end of each day that by the time you were bathed and asleep and I had tidied up, I was just so grateful for some peace and quiet and a few minutes to myself that I didn’t think too much about the fact that I knew where you all were. I remember feeling contented when I crawled into bed with you to read you a story or some poetry, but those moments were fleeting.

I can’t beat myself up nor counsel other parents to savor those moments because it’s easy to gloss over the difficulties of having young children after the fact. In truth you guys were a handful and I was often just in survival mode. When you have kids of your own you will know what I mean.

While snowstorms, soft blankets and hot cocoa may be highly rated on the list of things that are hygge, for me having you all home is the hygge jackpot.

As you got older and went off to college (and now for my oldest, the working world), it became more and more difficult to coordinate having everyone home at the same time. Your school vacations and time off from work vary. Even when you technically are home, you often dash in and out of the house between the gym and your assorted plans and activities. When you are around, I sometimes ask if you might be staying in for the evening. You may suspect me of purposefully trying to ruin your fun, but that’s really not my intent. The truth is, I crave the peace of mind that comes with knowing we are all together, if only for a short time. Once in a while, the stars align. On those occasional nights when we all watch a movie together or play a board game (I admit I generally just watch because I don’t understand or enjoy the games you play), I cherish being physically close to you. And even though these days I am more likely to go to sleep before you do, when the evening is over I love going into your rooms to kiss you goodnight, like I did when you were small. It’s a little slice of heaven.

I am truly grateful that you are thriving doing all the things you are supposed to do out in the world but on those rare nights when I know you are near me, I drift off with a sense of calm and tend to sleep better than I usually do. So, while snowstorms, soft blankets and hot cocoa may be highly rated on the list of things that are hygge, for me having you all home is the hygge jackpot. I hope you will remember that the next time we are all together.

See you soon and Happy Valentine’s Day!
I love you, Mom


Read more of Marlene's wonderful stories on her CollegiateParent author page, and visit her blog, "Thoughts from Aisle Four."


Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire, blogger and essay editor. She attended Brandeis University, from which she graduated cum laude with a degree in English Literature. A founding contributor and advisor at CollegiateParent, her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Grown and Flown, Parent and Co., Kveller, Her View From Home, the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, MockMom, Better After 50, Beyond Your Blog and The SITS Girls. You can read more of Marlene's work on her site, "Thoughts From Aisle Four."
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