Christmas of Hope 2020: Advent 3 Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete….. great Latin word. It simply means Rejoice, and is the name given to this Sunday because it is the first word of the entrance Antiphon ( an interesting word, which literally means an opposite voice) a bible verse recited in Catholic churches at the start of mass, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!”

Rejoice means to be glad, to find joy in. Pink is the colour of joy, so the candle on the advent wreath in many churches this Sunday will be pink. It’s halfway through Advent, a time for a break from a season which, in the Middle Ages at least, was actually a season of preparation and waiting before the feasting and rejoicing of Christmas. The modern world has changed Advent now into a run up to Christmas, a time for shopping and eating and Christmassing to the extent that some shops and houses actually have Christmas cleared and away by the time the year changes. I think there’s a halfway house between these views, which would be better. Christmas, as a mid winter festival, is worth celebrating well and spreading those celebrations out between 1st December and 6th January means it’s possible to do a lot without having to fit everything in to a small week of joy.

But I’m rambling… back to the Joy. Joy is the emotion we feel through well-being, success or good fortune; a state of happiness or felicity or an emotion similar to happiness but deeper and less reliant on external influences. It’s having a bit of a moment still, thanks to Marie Kondo and her excellent book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you’ve read this book or, better still, followed it you will know that Marie Kondo’s advice is to keep nothing in your life that does not spark joy. It can feel weird picking up every sock and pair of knickers and wondering ‘Do these spark joy?’ but the idea actually works. If everything you own makes you feel joy, content, happy… it does make your life more likely to be happy and if you are joyful, that joy is contagious. You’re building a better world on the back of your red lacey knickers.

I know I took the opportunity earlier this year in Lockdown to have a clear out of some items that had become tainted, that had bad emotions or feelings attached to them. I passed them on, or binned them, and said goodbye to the emotions as well. I need a proper clear and clean out of the house again next year. There are several craft collections that I can pare down, or pass on and clothes that no longer spark joy in me.

And my Christmas celebrations have been organised and planned very carefully to spark joy: either for me, or for my family. We discussed what was possible, what we would be missing and how we could balance the need to be safe and secure this year with the wish to be happy and joyful. I think we’ve managed it, just about. Yesterday’s playing at Christmas Markets, for example, made me joyful in remembering and joyful, too, in anticipating next year. We’re due to have a games tournament as a family later this week, and again that will make my son joyful, especially as he’s free to choose the games and will, undoubtedly, choose the ones he is good at.

Joyful living, joyful life is not, however, about getting rid of all pain or sorrow: it’s about learning to live with that pain better. It’s about changing what can be changed and accepting what can’t…. and also about knowing the difference. It’s about taking the small details and keeping them important without losing the big picture. If the cup you drink from makes you happy, then enjoy the cup… but release it cheerfully and with anticipation of the next great cup when the time comes to say goodbye. Or fix it with gold and learn the lessons of kintsugi. I think living with joy, being joyful, is very much connected to gratitude and gracefully accepting life. It is about engaging heart, soul and mind in seeking and recognising what make me happy, what sparks my inner self into life and about honouring that spark as well as honouring and living with the joys of other people’s life.

Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice. Light your pink candle today, breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for your joyful moments and rejoice. Life is good.

Daily Read: I’m being kind to you today: Not actually a read, so much as something to listen to and enjoy. I love this version of Gaudete by Steeleye Span. There’s a power in unaccompanied voices that I enjoy, especially when you get four or five people all singing different notes but they still blend so well together that it makes your heart leap. And I like this version because it’s live, not perfected in a studio. You get one take at life, make it a good one.

Daily Book: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. Find your life purpose, and live life the best you can. I loved the advice in this book, especially the idea that if you are a Lawyer because that’s where your passion lies, be the best lawyer you can be and if you are a street cleaner, because that’s where your job is, be the best street cleaner you can be. Ikigai has been called the Japanese Hygge, and with cause. It’s a book about identifying your passion, and living it. My passion, of course, is hygge and writing. Living the dream, folks, living the dream.

Self Care Act for the Day: Start thinking about what sparks joy in you. Start with your sock drawer, or your knicker pile, and throw out those items which no longer do make you smile or your heart leap. You may want to start a list of what you need instead (decent knickers from Marks and Spencer, perhaps) and keep looking at your life with the eyes of your heart throughout the rest of the year.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.

Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.

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