Let’s face it: Unless you are fortunate to live along the California coast or somewhere south of, say, Las Vegas, February is cold.
And it’s not the exciting cold of a November or December day that invokes visions of sleigh rides and jingle bells. No, February cold is an angry cold. A depressing cold. It’s the kind of cold that makes you want to daydream of white sand beaches and coconut palm trees, but instead you think of Bill Murray’s line in Groundhog Day: “I’ll give you a winter prediction. It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”
The other day as I drove to work, a slick sheen of ice (“freezing drizzle” they called it) covered the roads while fog and low-hanging clouds darkened the sky. A thought crossed my mind as I white-knuckled the steering wheel:
“I wish I was back in the comfort of my home.”
It’s a common thought, similar to the feeling when you open your eyes and think, If only I could just stay in bed. You’re warm, cozy, and comfortable there. The last thing you want to do is get up. Indeed, the thought of climbing out of the covers into the chilly air of the room and traipsing across the icy wood floor and onto freezing bathroom tiles is daunting at best.
That’s why I’m often nostalgic for my childhood weekends, when getting out of bed early was optional (most days, at least). I remember how I would wake up and—remembering it was Saturday—pull the covers up to my chin, roll over, smile, and promptly fall back asleep. These days, the responsibilities of adulthood make for an effective early-morning alarm clock. Now, a Saturday or Sunday morning often means getting up before the sun is even up. There seems to be little time anymore to indulge in a warm, cozy, comfortable morning in bed. In fact, an adult life filled with the demands of work, the responsibilities and stress of paying bills and parenting, and trying to find a little bit of “me” time, seems to feel more like the bitter cold of a February morning rather than the easy warmth of a July afternoon.
This week as I bundled up against the winter weather, I decided to think more about what I could do to create more warmth in my life, both literally and figuratively. And that again made me think back to my childhood and how my life felt then. It was warm…cozy… comfortable. And much of that had to do with how all my senses engaged with the place I spent the majority of my time: my home.
So that prompted this week’s Everyday Nostalgia post. We can easily engage all our senses and utilize our nostalgia for childhood comforts to surround ourselves with happiness, simplicity, and of course, warmth.
Here are 7 simple nostalgic ways to create a heart-warming home:
1) Create comfortable, warm spaces.
Remember those warm, comforting places in your house that you loved as a child? That comfy chair in the corner you’d sit in, that spot on the couch that you’d broken in and claimed as your own, your bed that you didn’t want to get out of in the mornings? Try to make your space now mimic those spaces of your past. Go crazy with pillows or blankets or anything else (pets perhaps?) that might warm those spaces (and you). I suggest lots of blankets, because I think there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about curling up inside a big, soft one.
2) Fill those spaces with things that give you comfort.
What warms your soul? Music? Play some. Books? Put them on shelves. Pictures? Hang them up or set them out so you can look at them and smile and remember those happy times. Color? Decorate with warm, vibrant hues that evoke the feeling of sunshine. Let your favorite “things” engage your senses. As you can see from the photo above, my space is filled with all of these wonderful, simple, happy things.
3) Light a candle.
Studies have shown that nostalgia is one of the most powerful feelings that scents can evoke, so to conjure up some, consider lighting a candle. I have one that has delicate undertones of sea moss and sand, and the moment that wick sizzles to life, I’m filled with memories of yesteryear: dancing in the waves, building sand castles, and doing cartwheels on the beach in South Carolina. Those were are some of my happiest days as a child, and remembering those times fills me with warmth (and those sun-drenched thoughts are a perfect respite for cold, angry winter days). People have been catching on to the power of scent-evoked nostalgia, too: Homesick Candles were created by a group of folks who relocated from states they still feel close to. They’ve worked hard to perfect the “scent” of each state in the form of candles that create the feeling of home, wherever you may be.
4) Build a fire.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace (be it wood or gas), a cold, winter day or night is the perfect time to put it to good use. Nothing compares to the strident pops, crackle, and heat created from a real fire. I grew up with wood-burning fireplaces, and I have fond memories of saving old newspapers to start one going, tossing on a color-changing pine cone, and sitting nearby (and often falling asleep next to) those glorious, warm flames. Gas fireplaces can induce the same kind of nostalgia, and even if you don’t have one, you could pull up this virtual fireplace on YouTube. I found it this past Christmas and streamed it on my TV—not quite the same, but hey, it was better than nothing, and just watching it took me back to those simpler days.
5) Cook up some comfort food.
Just like scents, the taste of frequently eaten childhood foods often bring back powerful, comforting memories. I remember coming home from school, walking into my house, and having delicious smells from the kitchen greet me. The food I grew up with was pure Midwestern comfort food: meat and potato dishes, rich casseroles, and decadent, baked treats. To this day, one forkful of my mom’s Chicken Casserole is a perfect, little bite-sized piece of my childhood. So cook up some comfort food to fill your home with the delicious, warm smells of days past (and your belly with really tasty food).
6) Stock up on coffee, tea, and/or cocoa.
While I don’t drink coffee anymore, the smell of it transports me to my childhood, where every morning I would wake up to the sound of a pot of coffee brewing, its quiet percolating creating a little lullaby. So for a little more scent-evoked nostalgia, when I’m home during these cold months, you will find me with a hot cup of cinnamon tea in my hands. There’s something so satisfying and comforting about warm drinks. Bonus points for sharing a cup—and some good conversation— with someone you love. My daughter Zoey and I regularly have hot chocolate while we talk and build a puzzle together. Those moments together are some of my favorites, because those are the ones where warmth truly abounds.
7) Share warmth with the people you share your space with.
As I mentioned above, the people in our lives help make our houses feel more like home, so it’s vital to remember to share warmth with them. Talk, laugh, love, share the cup of your favorite beverage, sit around the dinner table and eat dinner together. Pick a random weekend where you cozy-up inside one day and create warm, lasting memories together.
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The best part about this list is that if you’re strategic, you might be able to incorporate them all into one amazing, nostalgia-filled, heart-warming cold afternoon or evening: Make some coffee / tea/ cocoa and a comforting snack (I highly recommend these brownies), get that real (or digital) fire going, light a candle, and then curl up in a blanket in your super cozy space you’ve created that holds some of the things you love. Finally, invite a loved one (or a pet, or perhaps hop on Facetime or a call with someone you love) so they can join you in sharing your happy, warm space and moments. I did this earlier this week, and I have to say, it was downright heavenly.
So tell us: How do you surround yourself with warmth in your home? We’d love to know!
Week 5 Suggested Reading
Does your home sometimes feel like just a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes on the way to the next activity? Do you long for “home” to mean more than a place where you stash your stuff? Wouldn’t you love it to become a haven of warmth, rest, and joy . . . the one place where you and your family can’t wait to be? The answers to these questions can be found within the pages of this little gem of a book.
* This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you purchase a product after clicking an affiliate link (and it doesn’t even need to be the product I’ve linked to), I receive a small percentage of the sale for referring you, at no extra cost to you.*
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.