My “Hygge” Moment!

Last night, I sat around the table with my two adult sons and husband after a dinner of chili and cornbread. Warmed by a crackling fire and the soft glow of candlelight, I watched as the rain cascaded down our windows. It felt cozy, nostalgic really. I’ve always savored these quiet moments as a family, fully aware of how fleeting they become as our children grow into adulthood. And so, I did what we have often done through the years when nestled around a table, sated and content, I pulled out a game.

We have always been a board game family—Life and Monopoly are family favorites. That night, however, I pulled out a new game called The Hygge Game.  It’s a box of 300 thought-provoking questions designed to spark meaningful conversations. As a storyteller, I love every opportunity I get to delve deep past surface-level conversations and world events—which often leave me unsatisfied.

The box states that The Hygge Game brings people together by encouraging friends and family to share stories and discuss significant and small things in life. While there are various descriptions for the word hygge, it essentially means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. It refers to all things that evoke a feeling of contentment and well-being—like cozying up with loved ones or lighting candles; doing things that feel good. So, The Hygge Game is definitely up my alley. I thrive on spending quality time with the people I love and learning more about them in an atmosphere of coziness.

Much to my surprise, it didn’t take long for this game to live up to its name as I soon drew a card that made me immediately want to share a heartfelt “feeling” I have for two influential women who came into my life nearly two decades ago.  This specific card had three questions, and the third was, “Who was your most memorable neighbor?” Most of the time, I’m one to sit with my thoughts for a bit before I dive into a response but, in this instance, my answer was immediate… though plural: Ruth and Madaline.

At nearly twenty and fifty years my senior, these women represented a sisterhood I desperately needed when they entered my life. We called ourselves Wacky Wonderful Women. At the time, I was in my late thirties, Ruth was in her sixties, and Madaline was in her eighties. I will never be able to find words to describe how they guided me during that time, but I can say that they refused to let me be anything less than myself and loved me unconditionally as a mother and grandmother would. 

They were both wonder women, with talents that far exceeded anything I knew. Ruth made the most unforgettable coffee infused with cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. And, she talked to us about which new coding class she was taking, patiently showing us how to use the technology on our cell phones and computers. Madaline found shelter in her garden and baked the most incredible cheesecakes and heath bar crunch cakes. When we sat at lunch, they would share pearls of wisdom about navigating challenges, making sound decisions, and embracing the passage of time with grace.

Each imparted a wealth of knowledge through their experiences, offering lessons in resilience, patience, and the nuances of life. They infused vitality and shared contemporary insights, resulting in a symbiotic relationship that transcended generational boundaries. I feel fortunate to have had their stories and advice; each story served as a compass, guiding me at a time when I needed influential women in my life. Our bond contributed to a more harmonious life during a time when I struggled with family drama.

For me, Ruth and Madaline were able to weave a fabric of how interconnected our lives were, creating a connection of care and compassion within our small community. Our relationship offered me a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.

While I had elders in my life before moving to California from Michigan, I felt a void in my new home State and longed for the communal connections I had back home. The gift of girlfriends has always been priceless for me and I was missing that. Each of these women emphasized the importance of values, integrity, and the significance of relationships. They fostered a sense of continuity that gave me comfort and confidence in my abilities and illustrated just how important it is for women to empower other women, at any age. The wisdom of others teaches us the timeless lessons that can shape character and provide a compass for navigating life’s journey… if we take the time to listen and learn. 

I recently read a study on the importance of intergenerational friendships and how they can bridge age gaps, fostering mutual understanding and enriching lives. My friendship with Ruth and Madaline is a testament to this. Generations before us have much to offer. It’s so important that we give them the space to share.

I do know I often think of Madaline, as she passed at the young age of ninety-three. I know she was wearing her Rich and Rose Estee Lauder lipstick as well as her favorite sapphire blue cashmere sweater. I smile and suddenly realize the need to call Ruth, as she lives in Connecticut close to her family. The last time we spoke, she had been on a ski trip with her adult granddaughter Amy, who calls her “Gadget Gramma.” Still an early adopter of technology, she was putting the finishing touches on the house she built, fully equipped with a smart home system she designed to connect and automate all her “gadgets.”

I love it when life gives us a little nudge to reflect, to remember, and to be grateful. I’ll always look back fondly on all that Ruth and Madaline provided during that time in my life those many years ago.

Looking forward to future questions maybe later this evening from the Hygge cards.

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