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 Celebration and Tradition.
What do you do to celebrate Christmas that is a tradition you picked up off your parents?
So many of the things we do in celebration are things that we do because it’s traditional to us (traditional to our culture, as well, possibly: but I think the modern family in the UK is less tied to Old Tradition than ever now: we’re as influenced by film or television as by the tales we heard in our childhood of Christmases past.) Some are family traditions, passed on by our parents and adopted as ‘just what we do’. Some we adopt after consideration because they suit our personal situation, or they speak to us in some way.
Other people fight as hard as possible to keep away from tradition: they need new, stimulating, they feel trapped by family expectations or they are trying to escape their past.
I am assuming by the fact you’re reading this post, twelfth in a series, that you do celebrate Christmas, and in a way that suits you. I also assume that you’re seeking a mindful Christmas, and that you want to celebrate in ways that are meaningful, significant, personal. You are seeking, in other words, to find traditions that suit you.
‘Traditional’ can be a synonym for old fashioned, conventional, customary, prescriptive. That’s a shame, because what traditional can also be is something that grounds you: that gives you an ancestry that informs and improves your celebrations by providing meaning and links to past generations. The echoes of lives past give our modern world a faint hint of longevity. In a fast-paced, forever-changing world, celebrating using a recipe passed down by a grandparent, decorating using the bottle brush tree your Mother in Law bought for her first Christmas as a married woman or even just singing the tunes you remember listening to on the K Tel Pop up Christmas Favourites record of your childhood gives you a lineage that is worth being proud of.
And if you have nothing traditional passed down, or you find the traditions of the past totally incompatible with your life now? Traditions are there to be set. You may not wish to link with the past, so why not link with the future? Choose your own cookie recipes and write them down in a notebook to pass on. Make a tapestry stocking or an embroidered wreath to store and save. Start a family tradition of meeting up on New Years Day, leaving Christmas free for intimate family dinner. Celebrations need fixed points, the traditions that we remember and honour, but we must never be so fixated on them that we forget traditions all start somewhere. And we should be able to say why we celebrate as we do. Traditions stripped of meaning become useless.
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 Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash. I chose it because the Advent houses strike me as a prime example of a tradition that a family would have, much as I have advent traditions. I loved the colours, obviously.
Today’s Film: The Man Who Invented Christmas. A beautiful film about Dickens while he was waiting for inspiration to write his next big novel. I love how the characters come in and crowd around him.
Today’s Mindful Action: Find your favourite old Christmas photos and enjoy looking through them. Choose some to put on display, or have a go at scrapbooking. Enjoy the nostalgia, and bathe in the happy feels. Don’t have any photos or happy Christmas memories? Take a tip from Frank Cross in Scrooged and live through TV or film memories. Create your own nostalgia.
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.