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.
Each day also includes a suggested film for the day and a mindful action, something small, fast and designed to give you the opportunity to pause and enjoy the season in its mad run down to The Day Itself. These are the films and ideas written in my advent calendar box, so I’ll be watching and acting alongside.
Today’s word is Joy.
Joy has made a bit of a comeback in the last few years, thanks mainly to Marie Kondo and her tidying system that requires us to feel the objects we have let into our life and know whether they ‘spark joy’ before keeping them or releasing them out into the world. People are used to that idea now, and it is a useful one to apply when editing or eliinating excess of any kind. I know I eat less sweets than before, simply because if the sweet doesn’t fill me with joy when I eat it, then why bother?
Perhaps we should apply the same criteria to the activities and events we fill our Christmas season with.
Christmas Joy has such a heavily Christian meaning.. the joy a Christian feels at celebrating the birth of Jesus, whom they see as their salvation, and worship as part of their God… that I think people of other faiths and none forget that joy is an intensely human emotion and not completely able to be claimed by Christianity or any other faith. Joy, a deep feeling inside that transcends physical state of being or external conditions, is something we all feel, it is “an enduring, deep delight in what holds the most significance.” as Dr Pamela King describes it. It’s the feeling we all feel when a new baby is born, when we fall in love and realise this is for keeps, when we realise that we are capable of great happiness, great joy despite our personal conditions not because of.
Joy is a choice we make. Joy is seeking for the good, the positive, the light in all situations and, even in the darkest hour, seeing a chink of hope and a way that our humanity can just be. Joy blooms through connection, it relies on links with people, not things, it just is independent of bank balance or ownership or state of the house. It’s pure, unadulterated, unalloyed emotion that we often turn away from in a cynical and bitter world. But joy is our way to enlightenment. In many spiritual, religious or personal practices, cultivating joy is important. Being content, seeing the good in any situation, loving our life just as it is… what could be more joyful?
At Christmas, joy is the feeling children have when there is snow on the ground and fun to be had. It’s the deep happiness that is blind to the richness of the food or the luxuriance of the surroundings and finds joy and connection with the next child at a party. It’s the open hearts that children have that lead to open hands and an open life that lets in the magic. So often we lose our joy in Christmas because of the work, the tasks we give ourselves, the lists we write and the labour we see as necessary to ‘make a perfect Christmas’. We are foolish: Christmas is Christmas without the turkey, the ham, the tree, the presents or cards or anyone of the thousand gift wrappings we pile on it. This year, open your heart and choose joy. Look at the month with the eyes of a child. Be touched by the simplest of things: a heart decoration in a window, the sight of a child bouncing with glee at the animatronic polar bear that, seen with realistic eyes, has seen better days and is worn and, yes, a little grey… but to that child is magically alive and exciting and joyful.
Choose that joy for yourself. Step outside, and find the signs of nature around you: are the birds there? Can you watch a sunrise or sunset from start to finish? Is the park close enough to let you walk there often? In town, look up at the decorations, down at the street art and around at people who may need your smile to lift themselves out of the lows and into joy. Only Connect… smile freely, talk more and be joyful.
Be more Child. Your heart full of joy will thank you for it.
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 by Zara Walker on Unsplash. I chose it because the things that bring joy to children… and to wise adults… are often the simplest things. Who needs a whole town of Christmas lights, when one sparkler will do?
Today’s Film: Elf. I mean, really? On a day about the joy and childlike enthusiasm of Christmas, it couldn’t really be anything else, could it?
Today’s Mindful Action: Find something joyful to do. Be a child, find a toy to play with, run around the park playground, eat an ice cream. Do something that makes you giggle like a child. We all need to be a child sometimes, and what better time than at Christmas?
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 in this series are on the blogpost: Mindful Christmas 2021.