Recently I’ve become aware of the word “gezelligheid.” Here’s what Wikipedia says about this fascinating, meaningful word:
Gezelligheid (Dutch pronunciation: [ɣəˈzɛləɣɦɛit]) is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling.
The only common trait to all descriptions of gezelligheid is a rather general and abstract sensation of individual well-being that one typically shares with others. All descriptions involve a positive atmosphere, flow or vibe that colors the individual personal experience in a favorable way and in one way or another corresponds to social contexts.
As this is a very vague and abstract notion, the word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.
Well, that’s some potent word, huh? Its interesting to me that the concept is so difficult to translate into English. For a foreign word, it’s certainly not a foreign feeling to me. I couldn’t love this word more. It feels like the concept already lives in me, though I’ve never tried to put it into a single word. I’ll probably never be able to pronounce it correctly but its meaning speaks volumes to me. I want gezelligheid in my life. I want to create a sense of gezelligheid for my loved ones. I want my home to ooze gezelligheid. I want to make people feel gezelligheid just by being around me. Lofty goals, but from the moment I learned of the word, I got it. It’s the word that expresses something that I literally yearn to have/be/create.
Comfort, a sense of belonging, pleasantness, warmth…such beautiful and peaceful states of being! I like to think I’m somewhat on the road toward gezelligheid in my attitude toward our home. It’s a place that nourishes, heals, provides a safe haven for the spirit and is filled with things that bring us joy and comfort. That our home reflects our personality and priorities is paramount. That we’re always comfortable living and using our home – rather than it looking perfectly staged like a showroom is what makes it feel real. That it lives with us rather than simply exists for others to admire is what makes it our sanctuary – a place to escape to, not from.
In a personal sense, I feel gezelligheid with Scott – completely free to be myself. No pretense, no self-consciousness. I think I give that to him, too – a loving, welcoming companion to share and listen, whether he’s feeling silly, sad, tender, angry or whatever.
I hope the Dutch won’t mind if I borrow their beautiful word to describe my heartfelt goal. I hope my life continues to offer my opportunities to gain and give gezelligheid. And I hope my actions can do this powerful word justice.
I guess Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young knew when they wrote this…