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 Guidance.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an angel or two.
When I was seven, and desperate to be a boy, I remember sitting in class and being the only person who volunteered to play Joseph in the Nativity play. Naturally, I didn’t get the part, even though I knew all the words, knew the story back to front and, moreover, would have made a better fist of getting the wife safely looked after than the Joseph we had.
Instead, despite me having short, curly brown hair, I got to be the Chief Angel in the play. Gabriel. Good lines, commanding presence, and a great line in telling people what to do. “You will have a baby… you will go to Bethlehem… You will give me those Smarties…”
Okay, so the last one was probably actually not true, but I do remember leading the Heavenly Host onto stage, having some cool lines to say and actually being on stage for a good chunk of the time. We were doing okay until Joseph unscrewed the baby’s head and held it up in triumph. I would still have made a better Joseph.
According to one teacher talking to a local radio station, “the anonymous teacher revealed that “sweet but dull” kids often get to play Gabriel”. I can only assume that my class teacher that year went against type. I was neither sweet nor dull at school, although I was annoying. I was bossy, single minded and likely to know what I wanted and how I intended to get it. I wish I’d had an angel to sit next to me and guide me, especially to remind me that sometimes a bull-headed attitude to getting what you want isn’t necessary because what you want, or what you need, will come to you naturally without pissing off either your classmates, your family or the head of house in whose hands your future promotion lies.
I really should listen to my guardian angel.
The role of the angels in the Christmas story is very much to provide guidance… either directly “You will go to Bethlehem” or indirectly, as in dreams telling Joseph not to go home but flee to Egypt. It’s God’s advice, perhaps, but he uses his Earthly messengers to pass it on. And may still be using them. There are a lot of people who believe in actual angels guarding and guiding us. I’m not sure: I like the idea that we all have a spark of the Divine within us, so we are all capable of being guarded and guardian, guided and guide at the same time.
At Christmas and throughout the year we need guidance… to choose wisely, to say the right words to a friend in need, to use the resources we are given in a way that honours them and keeps the planet safely. Finding a good source of that guidance takes time, and effort. Sometimes our guidance will be external, froma wise friend or colleague. Sometimes the only guide we need is our own still, small, voice, and what we really need most is time to hear it. Creating the time to sit and listen is not just a Good Thing to do, it’s an absolute necessity.
And having said that…. enjoy this version of O Little Town of Bethlehem. It mentions angels, and I couldn’t resist a darn good singalong version. There is, whatever faith you are, something powerful about a lot of people singing in faith together. I think, although most of my worship now is personal and private, we miss out when we don’t occasionally find ourselves in a congregation or gathering, whether that’s religious, as in church or temple, or secular like in a concert or performance. Turn the volume up, sing as loud as you dare. It’s good for you.
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 Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash. I chose it because the cute angel made me think of the (many) nativity plays I have had the pleasure to be involved with, as helper, teacher or parent. There are few pleasures to compare to the thrill of wondering what disaster awaits as a teacher places her reputation and hope in the hands of a class of infants…. who am I kidding? We watch them for the catastrophes.
Today’s Film: The Bishop’s Wife (1947) or The Preacher’s Wife (1996). One is a remake of the other. I prefer the black and white classic, simply because Cary Grant as an angel is so irresistible.
Today’s Mindful Action: The Bishop’s Wife meets an angel who acts as a guide for her and her husband. We may not actually have a physical guide so clearly tell us what we should do, but we can talk to our inner selves or conscience and listen as if it were a guide. Take a few moments now to reflect on any tricky issues in your life. What does your guide tell you is your next course of action? If you have any sort of faith, of course you can pray (and probably do) instead of talking to your inner self.
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.