Cozy. The word is evocative of warm blankets and maybe a fireplace with a mug of something warm and sweet. Gathered with your people or a book or show and possibly some bed pie, something to make you feel warm all over down to your bones. Safe.
My kids have known the word cozy for about as long as when they started speaking. To them it means, safe. Secure. Warm. Loved.
"These pants are so cozy."
"Ooooh, cozy jammies."
"Your big lap is cozy."
"Our beds are so cozy. Aren't we lucky to have such cozy beds?"
Yes. Yes you are my children, and I don't ever want you to forget how lucky you are. You are loved. You are safe. You are privileged. So many don't have what we have so we need to do what we can to share it.
Cozy is a privilege.
I wait all year for snow days. I live in Chicago for many reasons, but one of my favorites is the winter weather. Snow, glorious snow and cold. I am that person standing out on the train platform when everyone else is inside the station in the warmth. A snow day is a great luxury to me. But it's a privilege to stand out in the cold because I choose to. Because I know that I can always go back inside when I need to. It wasn't always the case for me, so I never take it for granted. So many cannot go inside when they need to. They can't get cozy.
Last weekend we got a big snow and the kids had a blast in their warm gear playing outside. But then when they came back in my boy said, "I am thankful for coming inside. Isn't it cool we built our own hill? And we got to eat snow? But I'm glad we get to come inside our warm favorite house and get cozy."
Cozy is a privilege.
We just had a fire drill at the Sears Tower where I work in downtown Chicago. I forget sometimes that I work in this particularly high profile building because it's just where I get to go to work three days a week. When we got to the floor we needed to get to, the security guard went through all the rules and details of what we need to know just in case. Just in case there is an active shooter in the building. Just in case there is a chemical release. Just in case.
I can never catch my breath after hearing those words. My stomach is still in knots. The what ifs. My mind goes to September 11th and to Sandy Hook and to all the countless atrocities going on in the world right now as we take the elevator back up to our office to get cozy again. My heart is with Aleppo. I'm trying to support the helpers - which you can do here. There will always be this terror in the world, on a scale we may never comprehend, if we remain so lucky. Because it's hard to watch doesn't mean we ignore it.
Cozy is a privilege.
As we made gingerbread cookies last weekend, the spills and the messes and the little frustrations we face each day melted away when that night I heard, "thanks for making cookies with us mama. Maybe we can do it again after these are gone".
Yes. Yes we can do it forever whenever you want to.
When I wash their clothes and they help me pull them from the dryer to the basket, they lovingly look at their favorite items and say, "thank you for washing this mama. Thank you for making it cozy again" about so many items that they snuggle up with each day.
I have little control over anything, really. Laundry and cookies and love given freely I can control. There are things I can control and things I can't. I need to look for the wisdom to know the difference and not let myself drown in the things I cannot. This holiday season (and always) I'm basking in these little ones. Their goodness and light is the best reassurance that hope is alive and the future looks bright.
There's a group in Chicago about 15 minutes away from our home - started in the diverse North Park neighborhood - it's called Hate Has No Home Here. I ordered a few signs and I picked them up last Saturday from one of the homes designated in this group. It's really a grass roots operation and it's so hopeful.
My kids in the backseat, I ran to the door and signed the form to indicate I picked up my signs. I had tears in my eyes as I got back in the car and the kids asked why I was sad. I said, "We are going to put these signs out in front of our home so people know we love them no matter what they look like or what language they speak or what color their skin is and that our home is a safe place". Sure, a little above their pay grade as they love everybody right now anyway, but it's important to talk about this stuff out loud to them, and early on.
The fact that I'm a little nervous having these signs in front of our home is an indication that many have lost their way. That saying all people are loved and hate has no home here could be construed as a negative thing or a somewhat radical idea is entirely backwards. But here we are. And I'm saying it out loud and putting it on our front lawn.
Hate has no home here. Cozy is a privilege.
So we try to do good deeds. More so than any other time of year. My mom told me something years and years ago that has stuck with me. She said, "Everyone deserves a hot cup of tea or coffee." I saw her donating boxes of tea and coffee to the food pantries and it has stuck with me all this time.
When I needed kindness, people have shown me kindness in ways I'll never be able to repay. But I can do small things to try to pay it forward.
So, on a basic fundamental level, that's what I do. If I can provide a literal hot cup of coffee or tea, I do that. If I can be a shoulder or a kind ear while having that hot cup, I do that. If I can give a couple bucks for somebody to grab a cup themselves, I do that. No questions or stipulations, just freely given. No judgments. I don't have a ton of money, but I have a little and I have time and a good ear combined with empathy and compassion.
Cozy is a privilege. It shouldn't be, but it is. I try to use that privilege responsibly and wisely. As it was once extended to me, I extend it now to others who need it. We may not always deserve it, but it can be freely given and received and you just never know what sparks hope. A cup of something hot and a literal and metaphorical safe space is a good place to start.
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