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 Love.
Love should be an easy thing to write about: we’ve all felt it, we all have something or someone we love in our lives, we all have times when we have loved, or not loved, and felt the pain. Whether it was a human or a pet, a friend or a lover, we all know how important Love is. And I could use this post and write about self-love, and giving yourself permission to be the fantastic you you are inside, or I could use it to write about love in a broader, Christian or spiritual way as in love your fellow men and be charitable to them… but I’m not going to do that.
I’m going to give you permission to do the opposite of love. I’m giving you permission here to absolutely HATE Christmas and all that it stands for in the modern world.
HATE that it involves racking up debts that won’t be paid off until April next year at the earliest.
HATE that it forces you into contact with people that you, frankly, don’t want to spend time with at any other season.
HATE that the music is on a loop and the lights are always on and the noise and the people and the smells and the feels and the whole thing is so damnably sensory it overwhelms you.
HATE that you’re responsible for delivering a fantastic family pantomime without help or support.
HATE how much stuff Christmas involves, how much rubbish gets added to landfill and how much damage we do to the planet in search of a Perfect Christmas.
HATE that you feel obliged to laugh and smile when really you feel more like crying.
We call Christmas a season of Love, but in the modern world we create a season where love isn’t free to grow. To be able to truly, really feel love, we need to live in a state that is secure (no financial worries, for a start), in a way that doesn’t overburden our emotions or our senses. We need, in short, to cut back on the excesses of life and appreciate the little things in our life. Go on… what do you hate about Christmas? Write it down, shout it out, go online and have a Twitter Tantrum at all the things that make you angry. Let it out.
Good. Now, start living a Christmas that you do love. Don’t spend for spending’s sake, consider your purchases. Don’t go just because the event is on, go because you know you want to, or because there’s someone there you want to see, or because you just feel like a damn good dance, thank you very much.
Have you decorated the house? Is it too much? Do a Coco Chanel, and start taking one thing away in every room. Not decorated yet? See how little you can get away with. Ban anything that plugs in, for a start, or anything plastic. Or anything that didn’t come from your garden. Do it differently.
Are you in charge of a massive Christmas Day dinner? Overwhelmed? Cancel it: let everyone else fend for themselves. Or tell everyone to bring a dish, provide a course or that they can feed themselves at home and come round for the evening. You are not contractually obliged to do this year what you did last year, or for years before that.
And you are not responsible for being anyone else’s cheerleader. It is perfectly possible to love another human being without taking on the responsibility for their own emotions. Take a step back, let them experience their own emotions, be there once they have worked through them. You have your own emotional equilibrium to consider.
And once you have stripped Christmas of the excess, at the very kernel of the season you shoud find love. Love for yourself, for your family or friends and for a world which so often dresses up the simplest message of Christmas… Hope… in the most garish way. Go love a simple Christmas. Go love the world.
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 Max Letek on Unsplash. I chose it becasue of the simplicity of the image. A plain heart, a plain background, no bells or whistles. Sometimes we all need to be a bit more Grinch and realise that Love isn’t any more complicated than we make it.
Today’s Film: Last Christmas. I watched this for the first time last year, and it was such a weepie. Have you seen it? I won’t spoil the gotcha if you haven’t. Just bring a box of tissues.
Today’s Mindful Action: Sometimes peace today is easier to achieve if we have planned for tomorrow. As the ancient Stoics would teach us, we will all die one day, we might as well be ready for it. Do a little tidying up ready in case. Start thinking if there are particular songs, hymns or music you would want played at your funeral… indeed, do you want a funeral at all? Do you have a will? Is it up to date? And are you an organ donor or not? If you have strong feelings one way or the other, put them down where people can find them. And… find a way to ask those closest to you what they would like as well. My Mother wants to be cremated, my Father wants a proper burial. When the time eventually comes, that’s one decision I won’t need to make.
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.