Recently I have been looking to put words to this phase of life that I find myself in. I wanted it to sound positive, even though stretched is really how I feel, and one day while roaming the libraries ‘new’ shelf I saw this title and it jumped out at me. I really want to be welcoming to my family and friends in a way that is exactly what was written on the cover of the book, “Learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease.” Yes! This is what I want, I thought. So I cracked that book open, and haven’t looked back. I have Kon Maried, and now I will Wabi-Sabi! If you need a beautiful visual vacation, check it out!
“The idea developed when two separate words, wabi and sabi were joined to convey a certain look, feeling, and world perspective. Wabi means something like simplicity, humility, and living in tune with nature; it describes someone who is content with little and makes the most of whatever he or she has, always moving toward having less. Sabi on the other hand refers to what happens with the passage of time: it’s about transience and the beauty and authenticity of age. Practicing sabi is learning to accept the natural cycle of growth and death, as well as embracing the imperfections that come with this progression. Together wabi and sabi form a feeling that finds harmony and serenity in what is uncomplicated, unassuming, mysterious, and fleeting. ”
One of the things I sometimes struggle with (holla if ya hear me) is Michigan weather and entertaining other than during the summer poses a space issue. I haven’t quite worked out a way to host in a way that doesn’t feel extremely claustrophobic. And then the kids are destroying the already destroyed underbelly of our house (the basement) which serves as a family closet. And I don’t want to be that mom who doesn’t let the kids play in the basement or bedrooms or whatever place that is very wreckable, and so I let it go in the name of hospitality, but what I’m really doing while trying to enjoy my guests is not obsess over the messy results of having friends over. Sigh. So if you have figured out how to make that work, please do tell- I’m very curious.
As a young person I was constantly having people over, lots and lots of parties, I never even thought about the appearance of my apartment- I was just so happy to be spending time with people! I was all hygge and everything! I know you’ve heard of that whole hygge movement, right? Wikipedia says: “In both Danish and Norwegian, hygge refers to “a form of everyday togetherness”, “a pleasant and highly valued everyday experience of safety, equality, personal wholeness and a spontaneous social flow”. The noun hygge includes something nice, cozy, safe and known, referring to a psychological state. Collins English Dictionary defines the word as “a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cozy and convivial atmospheres that promote well-being”.
Now, life in a big family doesn’t often lend itself to spontaneity, but what if we just stopped caring about the perfection that will never be there? What if we just joined forces with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and made it socially acceptable to have socks and back packs and candy wrappers on the ground while having friends over? Because sitting here in my living room that is essentially “clean,” there is debris on the floor. It’s not disgusting or anything, it’s just farrrr from perfect. That’s how my life is: not perfect. Pretty darn awesome, but just never flawless. Like I cook a nice dinner- all the kids aren’t home, I feel like a failure because I love having everyone all together….. Well, life is busy and it’s not perfect. So- I’m challenging myself to think in these moments: thank you Lord for this moment (even though I am struggling with it not being ALL perfect) that I get to be with these special people you have given me! Help me to love them with your love. Give me wisdom to be here now and know your will in all things. It’s just way more about accepting what it is than making it how I think it should be! I think hygge for me is letting go of my unrealistic expectations.
The thing is about being invited over is when I am the company I always feel like I’m putting the other person out, and I am so grateful and blessed by the sacrifices that I know went into that interaction, specifically cleaning up and preparing food- I end up feeling like I am imposing, and so overwhelmed by generosity I could just weep! This happened last summer- friends I’ve known since Highschool, Eric and Bea (and their six lovely kids) had us over to their house- and I was so happy to reconnect with them, and see how they ‘live in a shoe’ as their house is even smaller than mine! Eric had constructed an awesome umbrellaed area outside to grill and deep fry food- keeping heat out of the kitchen and allowing socializing while cooking- ingenious! And Bea was chill just talking with us on the front porch while all our kids were running around the yard. She and Eric are an example of Wabi Sabi hospitality- they weren’t stressed out about our nine extra people coming over- they were just ready to spend time with us. Now— Eric must have put in some extra time with those wings- because they were insanely delicious- but we had so much fun. And I was inspired, not only to host again but to enjoy the whole process as these folks do.
There are still a few months of cold to look forward to, don’t you worry! So I plan on trying out some of the techniques in this book, creating spaces in my home that are easy to sit in and relax- not too much clutter, just cozy and simple furnishings that cause you to chill. And also very easy food- this book is full of super delicious food that really isn’t difficult. Here are some examples of the many recipes found inside: Baked Apples, Fancy Toast, Wholesome Bowl, and Pumpkin Pizza! YUMMMMMM! There are several recipes that are characteristic of each place the author visits as she takes us through Japan, Denmark, California, France, and Italy. I really like this aspect of the book because I WILL ONE DAY TRAVEL! It’s interesting to hear about the little tidbits from each place, like this from Denmark:
“Commit to Coffee Breaks- Drinking coffee with friends is nearly sacred in Denmark-it might even be considered the equivalent of the tea ceremony in Japan. Both rituals celebrate being present in the moment and stepping away from anything else for that period of time. Scandinavians in general regularly take time for warm drinks and treats, usually favoring something much slower and more social than caffeine to go. While the Danish don’t assign a proper name to it (in Sweden it’s referred to as fika), breaking from work or Saturday chores to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend is seen as a priority rather than a luxury.” p.78
A really really beautiful book that is well worth the indulgence.
Annnnnnnnd, speaking of food- beginning next week my family and I are starting a weekly video of our cooking celebrations, just in time for LENT! It’s called Friday Foodies, I hope you pop in and see what we’ll be cooking on those infamous meatless Fridays! yipee!