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 words are Minimalism and Simplicity.
Mindfulness is nothing fancy, nothing complicated. It rests on appreciation of the small and ordinary moments of a good life. To be in the moment often involves a small, daily activity: brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, doing the washing up. Even in the most awefilled moments of life, it may be the small detail that strikes you most: the colours in a thunderclap sky, the power of rain, the wrinkles on a baby’s feet. Man aims for the moon, but appreciates the earth much more in appreciating and living alongside the ant.
And then every year we create this period of one or two months when we go mad. When everything is Bigger and Better, much Bigger and Better than last year. When prices aren’t lowered but slashed, when tables groan under the weight of the food we feel obliged to buy and we rush from place to place shopping madly, buying to excess, racing to get the must-have toy or accessory or whatever we have let ourselves be persuaded we need.
What if, this year or next, we refused to play the Bigger Better More game?
What if we actually turned our back on the hype and the hope that this year we’ll get the perfect Christmas right, and settled for less?
Less stress, more time
Less shopping, more making memories
Less fuss, more freedom
Less perfection, more realism
Less expectations, more acceptance
Step away from what is expected of you, or what you expect of yourself, and cut Christmas down to size. Don’t put all the lights out this year, use decorations that you already have or make new, find and forage decorations rather than buy, leave surfaces empty in the main room, clear your calendar and do only what sparks joy, or what you know will spark joy in others. Step back from the constant adverts on TV or in magazines. Focus on the personal, not mass produced. Enjoy mugs of tea with friends rather than massive parties, put your emphasis on presence with family, with friends, with any divinity you believe in, with yourself.
I love Christmas, and I am perfectly capable of going overboard with decorations, parties, dresses and all things festive…. but I choose not to. My house isn’t a minimalist palace (if you look in the background of any photo I take there, you’ll know that) but it is a place of love and I like putting time into it. I read, about 15 years ago, a great book called Unplug the Christmas Machine which is sadly out of print now. Its focus was on discovering the minimalism atthe heart of Christmas: finding its central message for you and focussing on that. I can’t remember where my copy of that is, now. I think I lent it out. But a modern day version is Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year by Beth Kempton. You may be late to put her advice into full operation this year, but read her book anyway and next year… next year, enjoy the benefit.
Find the simple message at the heart of your Christmas and concentrate on that.
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 Annie Spratt on Unsplash. I chose it because I liked the simplicity of the picture. I like using pinecones and acorns to decorate, the contrast between the white bag and the blue wall appealed to me, and I liked the framing of the picture in all its simplicity.
Today’s Film: Arthur Christmas
Today’s Mindful Action: Play a board game with your family or friends. There is a Christmas Monopoly available, which I got given as a gift, but any family game will do as long as you are all present in the moment and enjoying the sweet simplicity of play. Are you alone? Then enjoy the simple pleasures of a bowl of soup and time to read a book or watch your favourite show.
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.