The Norwegians have a word to discuss the comfort one seeks in the cold, dark winter months, koselig. It roughly translates to coziness, the kind one seeks out in the Christmas season without all the stress. Achieving this sense of coziness can be as simple as enjoying the company of friends and family, sharing a warm beverage by a roaring fire, reading a good book under a soft fuzzy blanket by the fireside. Candlelight is a wonderful way to convey this sense of koselig.
Getting outside, enjoying the fresh, crisp air and the sun, when it’s there is a mood booster, so get outside, no matter what the weather brings and you’ll feel better. I’ve been told that there is a saying in Norway, ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothes’. I am a firm believer of this. If you are wearing outer clothing that suits the weather of the day, then you will be more comfortable. This could result in more than one article of outer clothing being needed for a single season. But during a season that can vary in temperature from -20 C to 5 C, snow, sleet, sunshine, wind, calm and blizzards, all of them require different types of gear. If a person is prepared for these types of weather, they should be comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature throws at them.
If you under dress for the weather, misery will be your companion.
Norwegians live in a land where the sun doesn’t really come up much higher than the horizon, so they live with soft, indirect light and sunset and sunrise last for ever. During the nights there are the Northern lights, which are breath-taking. All of these things make for a beautiful atmosphere, but if a person looks for the beauty in their day-to-day lives, marvel in a falling snowflake or a tree covered in ice or a cedar covered in a dusting of snow, the beauty will fill one with a sense of wonder and of course happiness.
The winter months are long and hard, it’s easy to survive through them, but to have a good life, surviving isn’t enough. You need to find the way to enjoy your days and nights, to enjoy winter. In Norway the restaurants and houses have fireplaces and candles lit to promote that cheerful, comfortable feeling of warmth and coziness, and here in the Great White North we all tend to bond by commiserating over the misery of the winter. We long to ‘get away’ to warmer climates, even if for a short period of time. We long for sun and warmth and the end of the snow. This mindset leads us into a negative spiral, they say how miserable they are and you respond that you are just as miserable, if not more. You dwell upon the negative instead of enjoying the blue skies when they peek out from the grey clouds. Enjoy the post card scenes of a winter wonderland.
If we reboot our brains to stop thinking of suffering through the winter but instead glory in the weather, our minds will climb out of that negativity trap and begin to be positive.
I am so guilty of this negative way of thinking about winter, and I hated it. I never dressed for the weather but dressed for fashion. Hats would mess up my hair, gloves were chosen for their beauty instead of their functionality. Lined boots were worn only if I couldn’t wear my fashionable non-lined boots.
I walked around frozen and engulfed in a bubble of misery. Whose fault was it? Mine.
I hated the snow, it was a nuisance that was only good for shoveling and stealing time from my day and causing discomfort when I had to clear it. Icy roads and sidewalks were just things that made me fall.
I spent all my time during the winter longing for a plane to take me to some tropical destination where I could sit on a sandy beach, sipping fruity drinks and basking in the warm sun.
Then a few years ago I sat down and had a severe talk with myself. I’m not going to be able to run away from winter. It comes to Canada in October or November and it lasts until March or April. If you’ve got the cash to afford a week in a tropical paradise that gives you a week away from the cold and snow, but otherwise Winter was here to stay, so better to learn to love it than to waste the time and energy wishing for something that would never come, a winter-less winter.
That winter was one of the coldest that we experienced in decades, and I dressed for the weather. Warm, water-repellent jackets, hats, mitts, scarves and lined boots were what I bought for the winter months. Sure I looked for cute ones, I’m trying to be sensible, not hideous.
That winter I stopped being miserable. Others ran around, crying about the weather and i just shrugged and tried to always find a positive point about the day. I enjoyed myself more. Now, I no longer dread the coming winter so much.
Now, last year I was sitting back at this time of year, waiting out the first coming of winter. I was not waiting with glee, but with calm indifferent acceptance.
The same can not be said about this year. I’m looking forward to playing in the snow with my dogs, snowball fights with my husband and adult children, skating on a cold winter evening that ends with a full mug of hot chocolate, marshmallows and whip cream.
I haven’t awaited a winter with this much enthusiasm since I was a child, and my heart is full of warmth and interestingly enough, excitement for spending these upcoming day of snow and cold with friends and family.