“A year from now, what will I wish I had done today?” – unknown
This week of my family coming down with a cold has made me think of attitudes about getting sick. Rina, my best friend in college, was the first person I learned from that being sick could be fun. From her stories, I gathered that her mother made the days she had to be home sick to be like spa days with lots of good food, sympathy and glossy magazines. Rina is Finnish and I’ve wondered if this particular way to embrace sick time is cultural.
By contrast in my family when you were sick, you stayed in bed, had no special privileges and if you were sick in the morning, you had to be sick all day so you couldn’t go play with your friends in the afternoon, even if you felt better. It was an experience designed to make sure there was no psychological advantage to being sick. In our house of Protestant productivity, being sick and the resulting impact on our usefulness was to be avoided at all costs.
So I find myself torn when my kids have to stay home from school because they are sick. On one hand I want to enjoy the break from routine and sympathetically help them feel better. On the other hand, it usually represents a stress to my work productivity that I have a hard time setting aside. But more than that, it goes against the grain of the self-worth as measured by productivity that was ingrained in me from the early days.
When I heard of the word hygge (pronounced hooga) it made me think of Rina and her mom. Hygge is a Danish word without any direct translation to English but according to this article on Quartz, has a meaning that encompasses both coziness and togetherness. It makes me think of that warmth that comes from deep companionship through better and worse.
The warmth of that word and idea, combined with my sense that being together should be celebrated in a family plus the lack of compassion I have for myself when I’m sick has spurred me to try to forge a new path for my little family when we are sick. I’ll probably never be able to reform so much that I drop everything, buy glossy magazines and bath bombs but I think a little fun and great food to help make it through when we feel crummy is worth aiming for. May it bring a sense of hygge to us, especially when we aren’t feeling well.
(featured photo from Pexels)