December’s posts this year all share the theme of Mindful Christmas. There’ll be short posts each day encouraging us to pause and look at our celebrations in a more measured, mindful way. Every day has a concept heavily tied in to Christmas, and the plan is to look at them individually, examine what role they play in our own Christmas and, if we decide we don’t have enough of the secret ingredient, what we can do to have more of them. You’ll see what I mean as the month goes on.
Today’s Words are Conflict, Anger and Strength.
I think because Christmas is so tied up with memories, tradition, stress, preparation, business and a thousand and one other moments that can lead to over-tired and emotional human beings of any age, Christmas naturally carries with it a risk of conflict. All conflict carries a risk of anger, because any disagreement can, of necessity, result in someone feeling angry. Avoiding it, finding a peaceful solution, takes great strength of mind, character and even physical strength if physical conflict is one of your ‘tribe’s ways of dealing with issues. By tribe here I mean any group of people you share space and life with: family, friends or colleagues. Up to 44% of people reported that they had rowed with a family member over Christmas, while divorce lawyers are always busiest just after the sprouts have cooled.
What to do, then, to avoid or mitigate conflict? I’m not an expert, beyond over 50 years experience as daughter, sister, wife and mother but here are the techniques I most often found on other, more expert, websites and which I have, on occasions, used.
- Change the pattern: If you know you always argue with a particular person, don’t invite them. Or tell a close friend or colleague to keep them away from you. If you know you have a particular stress time (midday on Christmas Eve is mine, when there’s so much to do and so little time to do it) then try and have another person run interference on any/all distractions. Send children to tidy their rooms, have an appropriate adult take them for a walk, or use the electronic babysitter for a family movie while you peel sprouts, wrap pigs in blankets or ice the cake you forgot to do last night.
- You can only control yourself: Don’t seek for perfection in everyone. It is not going to happen. And other people will throw tantrums, be obnoxious or argumentative (especially if that’s their nature) so be prepared. The only person you have control over is yourself, so if you can’t afford a conflict, then deal with yourself alone. Go apart, take a break, find a room to nap in or a garden to prune. Whatever you need to release tension and avoid the storm.
- Establish boundaries and rules: This is good with adults or children. If you know you have two opposing political views arriving, set out that no political talk is allowed over the TV, the dinner table or in the hallway. Set up a Political Bad Words jar for charity and any time someone mentions a banned word, charge them 50p. Yes, there’s a political discussion to be had in the wider world, but this may not be the time or the place to hold it. With children, set out the manners you expect (within reason) and set up a reward system to make keeping the rules easier.
- Share and manage expectations: Do you expect the other adults in the house to help? Tell them so. People aren’t mindreaders, so write out lists and get them to choose which tasks they’ll do. Need the children to help as well? Write lists or draw pictures. The youngest child can tidy their room, or polish the living room with a microfibre cloth. Expect some free time provided by a partner? Tell them. And don’t build up expectations of a perfect Christmas. Good enough is all you ever need to achieve.
- Seek out the positive, and encourage others to as well. Get the children to Reverse Dob on each other, and reward both the active do-gooder and the informant. Spotting your brother changing the loo roll without being told, telling about an uncle who put his shoes together in the porch instead of in the centre of the living room, squealing about someone carrying the food through unasked. As a teacher, one of my favourite classroom management techniques was Catch Them Being Good…. it put the emphasis and the notice on good behaviour, not bad. And for someone whose bad behaviour was an attention seeking technique, it could work wonders. Again, be realistic.
- If all else fails….Move away. If conflict looks certain, and you can’t/don’t want to take part, them move away. Go into a different room, find a reason to leave, get your coat on and go into the outdoors. Even just 10 minutes in the garden can be a cooling off period. I find a walk in the woods (very Thoreau, I know) calms me and grounds me ready for the next Big Adventure.
Being mentally prepared for any possible issues of conflict can be handy: don’t let it dominate your mind, though. In the end, the only person you have control over is you, and the hopes of a perfect Christmas are not all met in you this month or any other. Make sensible preparations, and let everything else slide.
Today’s Film: Die Hard. The King of Christmas Conflict. Who doesn’t enjoy Bruce Willis in his vest standing up for a peaceful Christmas in the only way he knows how…
Today’s Mindful Action: Are you arguing with anyone unnecessarily? Would you like to resolve the issue? Get in touch with them. Send them a card, or drop them a message. If you have a conflict that is unsolveable or a toxic realtionship that would be bad for your own mental or physical wellbeing if you opened it up, then give yourself permission to release any guilt over it, let it go and move on.
All the quotes this month share the same background, even if the headers are all different. Thanks go to Caley Dimmock on Unsplash for a very seasonal background, ideal for all quotes, large and small. And today’s header is a photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash. I chose it because the red berries of winter time have always lifted my heart… and whenever I feel anger or wish to break away from conflict, a walk in nature has been my preferred route.
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 to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
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. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. 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:
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. It’s filled with advice on a daily, weekly and annual basis to help you set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things 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.
Of course Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is an essential read at this time of year. Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my personal look at Dicken’s Immortal Classic through the eyes of a Christmas obsessive and hygge lover. It includes the full text of the book, as well as my short essays on why A Christmas Carol is a book full of hygge. I have no idea why, but Kindle version and paperback are on different pages.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well, and links to all the articles camn be found on this blogpost: Mindful Christmas 2021