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 Realism and Perfection.
Does the perfect Christmas actually exist? Or are we doomed to aim for perfection and fail every year?
I found out Christmas never goes to plan early in my career as a mother when, having planned the season to within an inch of my life, and booked tickets to see Santa at the East Lancashire Railway as the Christmas Highlight for my small family (at that time our 3 year old, our 4 month old baby and Daddy and Mummy) the baby threw up all over me that morning, and cried his way through the cute Christmas Toy service we were at.
We went home, and decided that Daddy and David deserved some quality time together, while James and I would chill at home. I missed seeing David on a train, always a lovely sight because he always got so excited, I missed meeting Santa, eating mince pies, drinking Harvey’s Bristol Cream and more besides. My afternoon was spent soothing a fractious baby or panicking if he slept too long. By the evening, I was shattered and ready to drop.
The subsequent bug worked its way through the whole family over the course of a week, only finally leaving us on Christmas Eve just in time to set out the presents (thank goodness I always have bought and wrapped early) and usher in a light Christmas dinner eaten late the next day as we sat, ashen and wan, wondering how early was too early to go to bed on Christmas Day. It was a long way from the be-tinselled and Bing Crosby-soundtracked Christmases of the adverts. It was a real Christmas, in other words.
I have always mistrusted magazines and books that claim to have the secrets to a perfect Christmas, or that this year can be the Best Christmas Ever. To me, that seems like a case of diminishing returns. It’s a zero sum game, really, because the Best Christmas this year needs to be followed by The Even Better Christmas next year and Best/Better/Betterest seems to require increasing amounts of either time, money or effort.
For my own peace of mind, I find it much better not to aim for perfection, not to plan Christmas to the last second, or to have any expectations at all that this will be an absolute joy. Accept what you can control and what you can’t… and realise that any event that relies on other people relating well together, or the weather or mindreading what other people want is bound to disappoint to some degree. Release the need to control the situation, enjoy what happens, see mistakes or failures as memories to look back on, and appreciate the small things in Christmas: the card sent by an old friend, the perfect Mince pie eaten as dusk falls on Christmas Eve, the moment of silence as fractious children finally fall asleep on Christmas Day.
Embrace the reality of your life, and be content. Your Christmas is Perfect….. 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 Gabriel Tovar on Unsplash. I chose this because the making of a snow angel is one of those things that usually a kid gets taught by their parent. The parent has to be there, to be present, to teach the skill to their child. Also, the parent needs to release the idea of a perfect house to let it happen: I have always been surprised by how much of a mess inside a snow day makes. It’s worth it, but it’s such hard work playing, cleaning and enjoying the snow!
Today’s Film: Christmas With The Coopers
Today’s Mindful Action: Let go the image of a perfect Christmas. Get down on the floor with any children you have, or call a family evening with any housemates and just hang out together. Just chill and enjoy the bants, as my daughter would say.
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.