Embracing the Harsh Midwest Winter with Hygge

I had a dream of moving to Tennessee. Mind you, I've never actually been there, but the mild winters, rolling tree-lined mountains, country music, and Southern drawl were incredibly enticing. I sleeplessly searched Zillow for homes in our budget and was saucer-eyed at how much square footage and land we could afford. So what if the school systems were less than ideal compared to the award-winning district we currently lived in? - maybe I could try homeschooling our little ones! So what if we didn't have jobs lined up? - I'm sure the decades of experience in our fields could land us careers in no time! I tugged at my husband and pointed at the pictures like a kid with a Christmas Toy Catalog. I want, I want, I want! Aren't you sick of shoveling? Do you really want to keep scraping ice off the windshield all Winter? Think of what we would save on the heating bill!
My oh-so-practical husband blew my dreamy clouds away to reveal the glaring truth - we are in Minnesota to stay. We have family here, our jobs are here and secure, the school systems are coveted, and I wasn't taking into account that a lower cost of living also came with lower wages. Le sigh. We agreed to stay in the tundra, the state voted to the top of the Worst Winters list. Not only that, but we actually moved further north! We doubled our square footage and tripled our yard to sacrifice proximity to the metropolis. Surrounded by towering pines and nary a neighbor in sight, we manifested a new dream. A Northwoods lifestyle. We wear plaid now!
Embracing my Plaid State of Mind. Hat from Nine Sparrows Boutique
Embracing my Plaid State of Mind. Hat from Nine Sparrows Boutique
Much to my chagrin, our new home came with a lower number on the thermostat. "I refuse to heat a house that is twice the size to the same seventy-two we kept the old house," my husband declared. Okey-dokey, I'll toughen up. I'll WILL my capillaries closer to the surface. I will bask in the warmth of my family's love and the sunny faces of my children! My people come from sturdy German stock, I don't need a stinkin' sweater! I lasted a day...if even. And then it hit me - Hygge. I remember seeing this word on the cover of a book with a subtitle mentioning coziness and embracing Scandinavia. Or something to that affect.
Warm up by the fire it, be it real or fake! Photo by Thomas Vitali
Warm up by the fire it, be it real or fake! Photo by Thomas Vitali
Hygge (pronounced "hooga") summarizes a feeling of comfort and wellness. Think: cozy socks, fireside cocoa, ski sweaters, and fur blankets. The word embodies candlelight, warm wood tones, small gatherings filled with laughter and friendly embraces. Have you heard the saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing"? As I sat at my laptop, arms riddled with goosebumps and lamenting my rapidly cooling tea, these words resonated through my chilly core. I will become one with Hygga.
Here's how you can join the Hygge journey:
1. Invest in buttery-soft sweaters and flannel-lined pants. Bonus points for patterns you love - my current fave is Buffalo Plaid. Block patterns and florals are also on trend if that's your jam. If you're going to be engulfed in layers upon layers of fabric, make sure you're comfortable and feeling loved by your attire.
Scandinavian mug, tea, hygge
Outer and Inner heat from sweaters and a hot drink. Photo by Dominika Roseclay
2. Drink more tea. You have taken care of becoming externally roasty-toasty, now you need to fuel you're inner furnace (while hydrating!) Don't wrinkle your nose at me, there exists a plethora of flavors and types to choose from and I promise you'll find one (or many) to enjoy. Also, sipping tea brings me to an attitude of feeling like I've "got it together" and I can conquer my calendar.
3. Reconcile with your domicile. Do your surroundings evoke Hygge? If not, make some small changes by adding in a smattering of throw pillows, a plush rug, and a fuzzy blanket. Light some candles, paint the walls a warmer tone, find decor steals that make you smile. Not surprisingly, IKEA is a great source for affordable Scandinavian style. Maybe start with a new favorite mug for your hot cuppa tea.
Cozy, plush, hygge
Make your surroundings your favorite place to be. Photo by Daria Shevtsova
4. Flip the script on your inner voice. If you see a foot of snow in the forecast, rather than groan and ask yourself why you live in this Godforsaken state, count God's blessings in your winter wonderland. Go snowshoeing with a key for animal tracks. Take up amateur photography and capture the beauty of glistening icicles cascading across the tree limbs. Find a quaint coffee shop to meet up with an old friend for reminiscing about crazy times. EMBRACE IT.
5. Practice self-love. If you really want the warm-fuzzies, give them to yourself. Put all the above into practice EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Wear the snugly clothes, wrap your hands around a hot mug with an empowering quote on it, create a spot in your home that is solely YOURS for moments of bliss, and while you're there, meditate on all your blessings and the miraculous world around you.
christmas mug, winter wonderland, hygge
Find a favorite mug and take a walk in a Wintery wonderland. Photo by Jill Wellington