February 22, 2023

Not sure what rock I’ve been under, but the hygge craze has been big for years, and I just heard about it. As the rest of you no doubt know, “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) means "cozy contentment," and the concept is super popular in Denmark, where the winters are extra long and freezing cold. One can experience hygge by lighting a fire and/or candles, preparing and enjoying a hot meal with friends, snuggling under blankets. 

But it goes beyond physically staying warm. With hygge comes a deep sense of happiness, of feeling cared for and safe. One can imagine the bitter Scandinavian climate might logically have caused “cozy” to become one of life’s most valued states of being. I mean, I guess you can be “cozy” at the Equator, but it’s much more likely that your deep sense of happiness involves A/C, ice cream, and no blankets whatsoever.   
As an adult, I honestly rarely feel cozy, even tucked under a comforter before a blazing hearth. I tend to hop up at the slightest provocation, because I forgot my book, or to finish the essay I’m writing on deadline, or there’s a weird noise to investigate, and by the time I return, the magic moment has passed. 
I think I'm better at making OTHER people feel cozy. There was nothing as lovely as giving my kids warm baths and fresh-from-the-dryer PJs. When they would cuddle with their stuffed animals in front of a Disney movie, or sit swinging their legs and sipping chicken noodle soup, my offspring were the very embodiment of hygge. One of the joys of grandparenthood is the chance to help "cozify" a new generation of little ones.   
To get in touch with my inner cozy, I’d have to go back to early childhood. The only times that come to mind, were bedtimes sleeping over at my Nana’s New York City apartment. The hiss of steam from the radiator, the clawfoot tub, our post-bath anointing with April Violets talcum powder and holy water from Lourdes (we were both scented and sanctified), listening to Nana play the piano as we burrowed under the covers. It was sublime, and I’ve never since come close to feeling that way. Over the years, I’ve related being “cozy” to being innocent and carefree. Let’s face it, the world is just NOT a cozy place, and once I realized that, there was no way to un-realize it.   
Besides, if I don’t stay hyper-vigilant and gloomy-doomy, I’m convinced terrible things will happen, and they’ll be all my fault.   
So you won’t see me romping merrily in the snow, bundled up in polar fleece and sporting big knitted mittens, or slurping a piping hot bowl of porridge. No blissful slumbers by the fireplace. I’ll be much too busy worrying to relax, much too distracted to channel Little Elise. And that’s OK. There’s only so much hygge to go around, right? If I give my allotted portion to the people I love, that’s more than good enough for me.

    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter