So Friday arrived, and it was time for my family’s Hygge Day experiment. (See Looplilly’s earlier post for more about the concept of hygge.) We’d been planning to try hygge for the first time (in a formal sense, at least) for a week or so, and my five-year-old had been surprisingly excited about it since I’d first mentioned it. I think it was the bacon and cake that sold him, but playing games by candlelight sounded pretty cool to him, too. We’d decided that Friday would be the day because both of my kids were out of school for the presidential inaugruation, and my husband was off work, too.
The night before, my 5YO remembered it was about to be Hygge Day while brushing his teeth at bedtime. He jumped up and down and called, “Yay! Tomorrow is hygge! Tomorrow is hygge! I love hygge! I can’t wait!” The most notable thing here is that he says hygge (pronounced hue-gah) perfectly every time, while I still have to stop and think about it. Having never seen it spelled before, he has no reason to stumble over the pronunciation. He seemed more excited than he had on Christmas Eve. I hated to see his hopes dashed the next day, as I worried that hygge wouldn’t be all it’s made out to be, but I wasn’t about to squelch his high spirits.
The next day, Friday, after breakfast, I immediately started making brownies so that we’d have a treat ready when we decided to start hygge. By the time the brownies were in the oven, beginning their hour of cooking, my 5YO was insisting that it was time to get started. I told him to wait a bit — that while the brownies were cooking, I’d snuggle with him on the couch and we’d read from his chapter book. He agreed, and while we did this, my 3YO built with blocks on the floor by us. The book was entertaining, and somewhere along the way, I realized that, quite possibly, we were already practicing hygge.
When the brownies came out of the oven, we set them out to cool. The boys started a puzzle while I started the bacon. (I wish I had discovered how to cook bacon in the oven earlier in life because it’s super easy, both to cook and to clean up, if you line your pan with foil.) While the bacon cooked, we found a good YouTube video of a roaring fire and got it started. I worried a video of a fire would be lame, but it worked well for several reasons. One, the boys thought it was awesome. Two, the sound from it was soothing, and even though we didn’t get any real warmth from it, the outside temperature was in the 40s, so we weren’t too cold anyway. Three, it kept the TV in use, so no one felt like they could ask for a show.
While the bacon finished cooking, we put on warm socks and set up a cozy area with pillows and blankets for game time. We’d also planned to use this area for a picnic snack, but I decided the potential for breaks, spills, crumbs, burns, and fire was unacceptably high. After all, we wanted to use “real” dishes, drink hot tea, and eat by candlelight. Thankfully, everyone agreed that the kids’ table would work just fine for our snack. (By this point my 3YO would have agreed to anything to get his brownie.)
The Snack (with Meaningful Discussion)
Our snack discussion centered on fire. We even licked our fingers and then touched the candle flame. (My 3YO declined. And, yes, touching fire may have been unwise, but it certainly was special. Or at least memorable.) My 5YO decided it would be a bad idea to lean over the candle and sniff the flame. My 3YO remembered “stop, drop, and roll” from his fireman shows. They learned a new word — arson. A great time was had by all, and everyone proclaimed great love for hygge.
For game time we played Uno (the retro version, of course). My 5YO legitimately won both hands. If he had lost, hygge might have gone south quickly, but we avoided that potential disaster. My 3YO was more interested in making matches with the cards in his own hand and didn’t care that he had to keep drawing cards. After Uno, we played our own version of a Cities of the World memory game (more about matching, less about memory). The kids shared their matched sets and were surprisingly pleasant and cooperative. By the time we got to Hoot Owl Hoot!, usually a favorite, everyone was getting a bit cranky and hungry for real food. We managed to finish the game, though, with only minor disagreements and whining, and ended on a happy note.
Not Over Yet
I thought hygge time was over, but the boys weren’t ready to call it quits yet. They made their own art projects while my husband and I made lunch. We all sat together while we ate and talked about the transmission of germs and how taxes work. We started a new book over dessert.
In a practical way, hygge wasn’t all that different from many of our weekend days, but in spirit, I think it was. I was more present than usual because I went into the morning with only hygge on the agenda and wanting to avoid distractions. (No phone calls. No texts. I only used my phone to snap a few photos.) The boys both knew the plan for the day and were committed (as much as a 5YO and 3YO can be) to getting along and to making the day special.
Overall, we hygge-ed for around four hours. It was a good day, even as the world is in the midst of change.