It was Saturday night, the night of my latest noise complaint, that I was piecing together a puzzle while I listened to a CD and texting my sister about tea that I first learned the word hygge.

The noise complaint was probably the result of my CD player being turned up loud so I could hear it, with my ears being full from this sinus infection that won’t go away and yes, it was 1:30 in the morning because now that I don’t work at a coffee shop, I stay up late again and lose track of the hours.

Anyway, tea is one of my great comforts now instead of vodka–I’ve even left some at my boyfriend’s place–and Amber told me she just recently started liking tea herself, she no longer associates it with being sick but now finds it very hygge.

So I asked her what that meant, not wanting to take time away from my puzzle to google it (you see, I get pretty into them), and she replied:

It’s a feeling of coziness and contentment.

It’s a Danish word.

Hygee can mean different things to different people but in general the Danish are very happy people despite their long winters. It’s because they have a feeling of togetherness, and hygge can be seen in food (hearty or rustic meals, tea), decor (soft lighting, twinkle lights, chunky blankets, textured pillows, reading nooks), and can be as simple as lighting a favorite candle or reading a book by a warm fire.

In the spring it could mean having a picnic, smelling fresh flowers, walking after a rainfall, you know, just enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Although I have considered my father and I the writers of our family, my sister really poured some beauty into her description. And maybe the word is beauty itself. When I looked it up later, the New Yorker article said:

It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.” Associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude, hygge has long been considered a part of the Danish national character.

This past week has been full of despair for me over me as I know it has been for many people. But in the moments I find myself able to pause losing my shit over everything I can’t control, I will boil a kettle, pour puzzle pieces onto my table or crack open one of these many books I keep meaning to read. I will sit here at my desk where I make my art and maybe I will make something. I will get better at Nintendo Switch games so I can beat Brandon. Maybe I’ll even teach him how to beat me in checkers. There is a pandemic, yes, but also, there will be hygge.

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