Sunday, January 19, 2020


I enter the Salem narthex on a Sunday morning and I smell the coffee being brewed in  the large kitchen and hear the clanking of trays put out for goodies to accompany the coffee.  I smile and enter the sanctuary knowing that after the worship service I can join others in a time of socializing as we hold our warm cups and sweet treats.  Across the narthex is the fellowship hall where adults are seated with their warm drinks listening to the current Sunday School leader sharing information on a topic of interest to all of us.  I see smiles on faces and I hear  calm voices and sometimes giggles.
On week days employees come to work with thermo cups in hand full of coffee or tea.  A pot of coffee is brewing in the small kitchen for refills.  The cups follow us to our desks and our meetings.  Often, sweets are available near the Mr. Coffee in the kitchen.  Somehow listening happens more often and conversation is more civil and relaxed when these are offered.  
Friends and family call after work and want to reconnect and catch up with each other after a time apart.  Let’s go for coffee somewhere, someone suggests.  Morning, noon or night works for that favorite warm drink, whatever the season.  In winter, hot chocolate adds to the fun and the kids join in, appreciating the caring atmosphere of the moment.
What is it about coffee, tea and other warm drinks that seems to “settle us down”   and “open us up” to others?  Is it just a Scandinavian thing?  Or a Minnesota thing?  To help me understand, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a book for Christmas called, “The Little Book of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga), Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking.  Apparently hygge is a commonly mentioned thing among people younger than myself.  It’s about time I caught up with the times.  That being said, I found it to be a wonderful little book in which Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, in Copenhagen, explains what makes societies and their individual members happy.  I was not surprised to find food and drink are right up there on the top of the list.  Goodies and warm drinks, often coffee or tea, bring people together for quiet conversation, making us feel connected.  When we are connected we feel safer and more confident in who we are.  Thus, we feel happier.  For some, a cup of joe (or perhaps another type of warm drink) and a few moments of alone time in a cozy corner with a book or a collection of old pictures that bring back sweet memories can bring happiness.  This is not just a Minnesota for Danish “thing.”  People of all nationalities find this helpful.  Of course there are other components to the feeling of hygge but comfort foods and drink are a great start, which explains our love of coffee and the treats that often go with it.  
Tomorrow I will take the path to the coffee pot in the small kitchen at work and pour a steaming cup, with two cream.  Someone may ask, “What are you doing?”  I will smile and reply, “Finding happiness.  Would you like to join me?”  We will find a place to sit and enjoy each other’s company.  We’ll start our day feeling more calm, connected and happy than we would have otherwise been.  Who would have thought coffee  could create so much hygge! 

Happy Hygge Day! 

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