There's nothing I love more than when friends visit or come over and make themselves right at home. I love when friends put their feet on the furniture, curl up in one of my couch blankets, or cuddle with Mort. Those are the same things that I do when home on my own.
A friend entered our apartment and one of the first things he said was that the next time he comes to Chicago, he's definitely staying with us. Another friend was visiting and I had to work a lot that weekend. However, she made herself right at home, finding her way around the kitchen, making tea and doing dishes. A guest could totally leave all of their dirty dishes and I wouldn't care, but when a guest goes the extra mile and takes on their own daily chores without even asking, it feels like we're roommates instead of entertaining, and I'm so glad that my friends are that relaxed. It makes me so happy when friends and family feel at home in my home.
I don't mean to boast. One thing that I strive for is hyggelig, and when friends are comfortable enough to make themselves at home, I feel like I've achieved it. A friend from the Netherlands visited us in Orlando and was telling us about hyggelig and how it doesn't translate. This website has a great definition of hyggelig, but our friend described it as a cozy and intimate atmosphere, with friends or family, around a fireplace or with some lit candles, a warm blanket, maybe some good food and drinks, relaxed conversation, and just a good time. All those things can be found going out, or at home, with friends, or family.
This year, because of the cost of moving, two visits that I've already taken back to Florida for weddings, and the uncertainty of time off with my new job, we will be spending Christmas in Chicago. We've been lucky that we've been able to drive home for holidays these past few years, because flying during peak holiday season is expensive. The last few years I've spent Thanksgiving with my dad, and Christmas with my mom. My dad's family makes Thanksgiving a whole-day affair with all of our family's Italian recipes like sausage bread, stuffed artichokes, spooned cornbread, and lots and lots and lots of red wine. I always make a big batch of biscotti for dessert. After a big meal, a slice of pie is too much for me. Instead, I go for a hot coffee plus my crunchy biscotti for dipping. Being born in NYC, watching the Macy's Day Parade always brings me home. For Christmas, my mom always makes challah bread French toast for breakfast, with mimosas now that we're adults! (Who said that Christmas isn't fun when you grow up?) My mom always has her favorite Christmas movie playing during the day, A Christmas Story. And for dinner, there's always our favorite indulgent recipes like baked mac and cheese (we add mustard powder and it takes it to another level of bliss), spinach torte, and if we're lucky, my mom will make her flan for dessert.
This whole time with the move, I knew there would be days and nights that I would really miss my family and our traditions. Things have been very much busy here with getting to know my new job, getting to know our city, exploring with friends, meeting new people, work and social gatherings are endless! I've hardly had time to miss family and friends. But now, with holidays on the horizons, it's not the holidays that I miss; it's the people that make the holidays. I miss those people, and their traditions like red wine or flan and filling the day with the Macy's Day Parade and A Christmas Story. It's not the routine that makes a tradition, it's the people that follow them.