Monday, January 05, 2015

The Winter of Hygge

Today I stumbled upon a term that was new to me, it is a Danish word for which there is no real English translation. The word is "hygge", which loosely translates to "coziness" or a connected sense of community which brings about that sense of warmth we often associate with quiet conversations around a warm fire.  I love this new word, and I quickly recognized it as what I am feeling as we enter 2015...hygge is where I am at this very moment.  Knowing we have a lot of stress ahead of us with work and medical issues, I am allowing myself to claim "hygge" for the moment, which may be all I am allowed but I will live in that coziness for as long as I can.

As we awaited the New Year, and as Dominick has begun working full time at the restaurant for the winter, the kids and I entertained ourselves by going on a short hike with friends to view something few get to see in "real life"...after church last weekend we saw some petroglyphs!  What started out as a gloomy, overcast day turned into a crisp, bright, sunny afternoon just for our hike!  The warmth of the sun radiating off the red rock cliffs helped keep us from freezing, and we had a wonderful time as our guide told us all about this protected area.  She grew up nearby, and had scrambled through this rocky area many a time as a child, and so had many personal stories to share about what we were seeing, which made the excursion even more interesting.

Matthew was unable to join us, as he was working with Dominick that day.  The kids have all given up some extra shifts so that Matthew can work while he can and earn money for the year before having his work season cut short by back surgery.  I love how thoughtful the kids were in coming up with this plan and offering it to Matt as their little gift to him.  He was quite grateful, and so until the first week of February he'll be working every weekend.

Here are some photos from our day:

Everyone enjoyed the guide's stories, and we all learned a lot!

Smiling Male and Female Duos

As you can see, these were really stunning.  I am so glad they are being protected and that you need permission and a guide to view them.

It was one of those days where one kid just seems to naturally be in Photogenic Mode.  My friend kept nudging me saying, "Look!  Take a picture!" as Josh just looked so masculine and much older looking these days.

Kenny asked a lot of questions and really pondered it all...

And there he is again...

Coming down the trail, it was warm for a bit, but soon temperatures dipped and jackets were firmly back on.

A few days later, we hosted a houseful of friends from church for a New Year's Eve party, during which we also celebrated Joshie's birthday, which falls the day after Christmas.  Hard to believe that this little guy:

Turned into the big strapping 12 year old we have today!

Do you ever look at photos of your children, current or older pictures, and just feel your heart burst with love for them?  Do you ever think what your life would have been like without them and quickly turn from that thought because the pain is too great to fathom?  Looking at old photos tonight, I was so struck by young pictures of each of the kids...some we are very fortunate to have of Angela, Olesya and Kenny of their earlier years in the orphanage.  We have 4 or 5 baby or toddler photos of Kenny, but sadly, we have none of the girls before about age 6 or 7.  I can not tell you how much I wish we had even one photo of our sweet daughters when they were babies.  It is a special kind of loss to not have a picture of them as young little ones, as we do of the all the boys.  Did they change much as they matured?  Did they look as much alike when they were very young?  Did they smile as broadly before life really hit them hard and they found themselves homeless and so ill?  Questions we will never have answers for, I am afraid.

Josh received a special gift this year, as we spent a lot more than we normally do on a birthday gift.  Because it is so close to Christmas, we often simply can not afford much, and it always feels as if Joshua's birthday is not celebrated with as much enthusiasm.  Because he is enjoying the Gun Club so much, we decided we wanted to get him his first real gun.  Dominick and I went shopping and found a beautiful little .22 rifle for him, something Josh never expected.  He was quite surprised!:

Ready to open up the gift!

But first...

He carefully read Mom's card.  It is interesting to me how just this year, all of the kids have commented on how the cards I write are as meaningful to them as any gift itself.  I find that so touching, and realized I need to spend more time writing notes to the kids.  It seems to be something very special to them.  Josh actually carefully read every single card he received from anyone, not allowing himself to be rushed by others.  It told me a lot about his heart to watch him do that.

Later, after everyone had left, Joshie told me, "Mom, thank you for trusting me so much.  I really like my new rifle and I promise you I will always be careful and will use what I am learning at Gun Club so I am safe.  I can't believe you and Dad gave this to me!  You are the best parents ever.  I know you had to give up something to afford this for me, thank you so much.  I am so lucky to have you and Dad."  And my heart melted a little.

12 years old, and still willing to snuggle with Mom.  I am whispering to him here and had no idea someone had grabbed the camera.  Seeing such tenderness from the outside and knowing how hard Josh and I worked to have this with each other, I feel so blessed that we are able to enjoy this sort of closeness with one another.  I will never forget how we almost didn't have this, how difficult it was for him to accept nurturing touch of any sort.  A lot of healing has taken place in this little guy, and I am so very proud of how far we have come. 

And yet, even now attachment struggles and insecurity I prepare to leave next Tuesday for a week, Joshie is already showing signs of an internal struggle with my absence, as it manifests itself in the usual way with him wandering around the house every 10 minutes looking for the dog to make sure Sunny is not lost, and needing his blankie again.  We keep working toward him feeling 100% secure, and we will get there, but such moments remind me we are still are not quite there yet and have ongoing work to do.

How I love him!!

A strong, capable, responsible young man before longer a boy, not really straddling childhood and adulthood as he leans far more toward one than the other these days.  Yet he has the tenderest heart and is so open and warm, sharing his emotions in cards and letters so beautifully.  We received the sweetest Christmas note from him, and I was blown away by the ways in which he expressed his love for Dominick and I so eagerly and easily.  I am the luckiest mom in the world to have children who each are so affectionate and kind with their parents, particularly at the ages our kids are.  

Despite the busyness of the holidays, now behind us, and ski season, still before us, we definitely are experiencing "hygge"...a special coziness that is wrapping around us all.  Spending time with friends, which has happened frequently the past month or so, and simply being together as a family brings the warmth of winter to us.  It might be 20 degrees outside, but inside our home we experience light and love the likes of which are not found often.  We'll be returning to school tomorrow, everyone eager to get back to a routine after 2 weeks of uninterrupted blissful unscheduled days.  We have lots of exciting learning ahead of us, and we can enter into the next semester renewed in many ways.

2015 may prove to be very difficult for us, but we will hopefully carry that feeling of "hygge" forward with us, allowing us to be very present and attentive to God's leading.  We pray that the year stretching out before us is gentle with us, and is filled with all the goodness and wealth of a sort that money can not buy...

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