I learned a new word today. I didn’t pick it up from an article or a post; I heard it from the lips of a real human being. And while I am probably catastrophically mangling the pronunciation of it myself (I think it’s kooshli), it seems perfectly right that the lady in the tea shop shared it with me.
I love words and I love languages. I have always been fascinated by words that have no English equivalent; that embody something we can’t define. Koselig is a Norwegian word most nearly translated as “cozy”, but it’s much more than that. As the tea-shop lady explained to me, it’s more like the feeling of being cozy: that sense of contentment, and the things that make us feel that way.
A mug of soup. A cup of tea. Someone making toast for you and slathering it with butter. The play of light through the flowers on the table, or the sound of friends chatting. The creased pages of a treasured book, the crackling logs in a fireplace. The things that make you feel at home.
This lady believed in it so much that she opened a pop-up tea shop through the winter to bring our community just that feeling of koselig. And when you step from the wintry street into her little shop, you know she has achieved it. A half-finished puzzle lies scattered on the table, and baked goods fill the mismatched glass domes on the counter. She can brew a perfect pot of tea and keep the record spinning at the same time. Children play on the rug and friendly conversation is always welcome. The dishes are all vintage Seventies and the soup warms your soul. It could be anybody’s grandmother’s house. That’s koselig.
And I wondered, as I shared a pot of dandelion root tea with my family: what exactly makes us feel this way? What makes us long to share time and space with the people we love, and to make it precious with the simplest of pleasures? How does koselig happen in our homes and in our lives, and what can we do to make it a priority?
I think I already know the answer – it’s just that I’ve only now found that word to describe it. All those meals we cook, beds we make, stories we read; every time we wrap a towel around our little ones, sing them that one more song before bed… we’re making a home for our children, welcoming them into the awareness that they deserve to be loved. And that feeling of being loved and having value defines how each of them will recognize what is good in their lives, what fills them with contentment. Home becomes the standard for that feeling of cozy connection.
So never think that you are wasting time by baking bread or brewing tea. Read them one more story, and drink in the smell of their hair. The best of humanity is shared through our homes and families. You are changing the world.