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 Gratitude.
Today’s quote is an overtly Christian one… giving thanks to God for the great gift of life and this world that He has given us… but I think a feeling of gratitude for being alive is a very human one, and transcends religion. Whatever faith, or none, gratitude and awe at the wonder of this world, space and the Universe is something we’re all capable of at numinous moments.
And gratitude, feeling blessed by what we have, is a great feeling. It’s been hailed as life-changing by many, as life-improving by Oprah Winfrey and as a real health improver by those who practise being grateful.
Gratitude isn’t just for the big moments, though. It’s not just for the moment we stand on the mountain top.. it’s for every step of the way. Gratitude, appreciation of what we have now is what matters. Indeed, the deep benefits of gratitude happen most when we slow down and see how much we already have: the home, belongings, food, companionships, the weather on Monday, the shoes that are waterproof, the fresh water we drink, the air we breathe, the life we have.
Gratitude is an important component of living a hygge life. If we settle down with a mug of cocoa and find ourselves wishing we had mulled wine, or that we had a better cushion, a fluffier throw, that we were alone/had our family there, that we, in short, express discontentment with life just as it is…. well, an unhappy person will be unhappy anywhere. It’s easy at Christmas to forget to be grateful, especially in a modern Christmas where so often the level of consumption we indulge in is seen as a marker for how good Christmas is. It’s that aiming for perfection that magazines and adverts teach us… have we really celebrated well if we’re not dressed to the nines, with an ice cold gin and tonic in hand and surrounded by smiling and inimitably cool people?
The answer, of course, is that we have celebrated well whatever our situation and whoever we celebrated with as long as we have acknowledged the gifts we’ve been given. Look for the small things: that’s where our gratitude starts, and where living a grace-filled life continues.
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 Ander Burdain on Unsplash. I loved the idea of light as a symbol of our many gifts, and the holding of them in our hands as we feel gratitude for a life well-lived.
Today’s Film: It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a wonderful life-affirming film, and worth watching whenever you need a lift. When James Stewart needs his life affirming, after realising that he is loved and needed and makes such a big difference to the world around him through the smallest of actions, it’s ZuZu’s petals that he sees, and is grateful for. Those small, red (I assume, the film is a black and white classic) petals are a real catalyst for him to live wholeheartedly with gratitude for what he has.
Today’s Mindful Action: Do you keep a Gratitude list or a Gratitude jar? Go, and read over all the small gifts life has given you. Never had one? Tonight is a good time to begin. Grab a notebook or a new Word document and start (in the words of Bing Crosby) Counting Your Blessings. Need inspiration? Take a walk under the stars and begin from there.
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.