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 Thoughtfulness and Generosity.
I wonder what the world would be like if we were all thoughtful and generous to those in need? Imagine, say, if the richest man in the world saw all his wealth as something to use for others, to prevent world hunger, to make peace more likely, to get eveybody’s standard of living up to a level where they’re not scrabbling around daily for the next meal or wondering whether to choose heating or eating today?
I know we should not be living in a world where any child goes hungry, and especially in western countries there should be no need for food banks and charities because society should be capable of taking care of all its members… and yet, in the real world, we do have issues with people needing support at vulnerable times, or people who slipped deep into debt when credit was easy to obtain. We have people who can’t live with their families, women who had to escape abusive relationships and pensioners who find the little they scraped together from working is slipping like sand through their fingers.
Yes, the Government has a big role to play in prevention and support… but we risk outsourcing our thoughtfulness and generosity if we rely solely on the Government to provide for those in need. Plus, also… anything that relies on a bureaucracy to get organised is inevitably slow and cumbersome and likely to provide only after a period of increasing debt or loneliness or isolation. A fast-acting local charity can fill that gap.
That’s why we have charities, or are called on in most religions to practise charity. The idea that what we have, we have to share and that sharing it makes us happier people as well as improving things for those in need… that’s pretty deeply baked into Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism. We are supposed to act in addition to pushing Government to act. We are supposed to support those we know around us in need. We are supposed to love others in deed as well as word.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published on 19th December 1843. Its story of a miser who hoarded his money and viewed wealth creation as more important than his fellow men, who learns the error of his ways and repents to become a generous and thoughtful employer and a great benevolent charitable man is just as relevant today as it was then. The poor, it seems, are really always with us. It’s been retold and updated so many times, and usually the emphasis is that this is a man who does not like Christmas. It’s actually a man who does not like humanity, who has no generosity, who cannot act thoughtfully towards others because he has chosen to isolate himself from the pain of human love. The redemption of Scrooge could have happened at any time of year, we could have had A Midsummer Ringdance, for example, except that Christmas, with its bad weather, its abundance and celebration, highlights the differences between those who have plenty and those who have little in a way that no other festival does.
And once a year it is a time when we really are called upon to remember the rest of humanity. Set differences aside, and act for the greater good. As Frank Cross in Scrooged puts it “For a couple of hours out of the year, we are the people we always hoped we would be”.
The first mindful action of this month was to set up a reverse Advent calendar. Today might be a good day to deliver the tins you’ve collected to your local food bank or collection point. Or take some old household linen to a local homeless charity, clear out some clothes to your local hospice shop and put an extra few pounds aside to give to the next charity tin you come across. Start right now, at Christmas, and then keep that Christmas spirit all year round. We’ve already looked at minimalism, simplicity, consumption and indulgence. If we live with those qualities informing our decisions, we will be content with what we have and have plenty to share. Now, how do we get everybody else to sign up to the Christmas Spirit?
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 Eleonora Albasi on Unsplash. I chose it because the heart is often seen as the symbol of thoughtfulness and generosity. I liked the fact the heart was made from pages of a book, and the Christmas lights behind made me smile.
Today’s Film: Scrooged. It has to be. One of the best updatings of A Christmas Carol, ever. Perfect actor plus perfect storyline plus perfect social conditions (‘greed is good’ 1980s culture, anyone?) to get the point across that charity is still/always a necessary part of the human condition.
Today’s Mindful Action: Apart from smiling at everyone you meet today, why not set up a charity box either real or virtual: a jar by your bed to collect small change in, and then donate to a local charity every month or an online charity jar or monthly donation to your favourite charity. No money? Do the same but with excess stuff in the house. Local playgroups are always happy to have donations of craft stuff, clothes are a boon for refuges or refugee charities and foodbanks always need extra.
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.