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 Sense: Touch and Other Senses.
Christmas is such a sensual feast, with the lights, the music, the scent of cinnamon and orange in the kitchen and the fantastic food, the tastes of Christmas.
Some how, though, it can be easy to overlook touch amongst the other senses. Which is a shame, because there are so many textures of Christmas to pull me in.
The throws of winter, fur or fleece, wool or brushed cotton. The shiny smoothness of tinsel, the gritty sharpness of glitter, the rough texture of gingerbread, sticky smoothness (don’t touch it!) of icing just applied, the prickle of a real Christmas tree, the softness of gloves, the hard, sharp, shining ice in my gin and tonic. Hot and cold, it should be remembered, are felt by touch.
Buried in the middle of so much other sights and sounds and smells, the banality of what something feels like can pass us by. We are at risk of sensory overload: of having eyes bigger than our stomach, heads spinning in the sounds, and always, always, too much to take in.
We can’t concentrate on every little stimulus that passes our way. We’d go mad. It would be like Professor X in the X Men movies, when he puts his helmet on and enters Cerebro, from where he can see and hear every mutant across the globe. Instead, like him, we need to pull our interest back and focus either on limited stimuli or for a limited space of time. I know several friends who have done a Photo an Hour for a day challenge, which was really interesting, because it gives you just a snapshot of the day, a small window into someone else’s life. I wonder what the textural equivalent would be? Stop once an hour and look at what we’re holding, stroking, feeling? It’s something I might bear in mind for next year, if I’ve chosen my word of the year by then.
Or perhaps we need to balance our sensory stimuli better ourselves. Wander around the home, look at what we have that would give us pleasure through sight, scent, hearing, taste and touch. We could, and probably should, pay attention to the undervalued senses as we design hygge nook areas, kitchens, and especially bathrooms. Which areas of your house do you think could do with more texture? And how would you add that in?
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 JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash. I chose it because with its combination of colours, items and scents, it pretty much covers the senses at Christmas: the lights, leaf texture, orange or mint scent and taste, and the sound of crunchy candy canes or new-fallen snow. Christmas in miniature.
Today’s Film: The Polar Express. I love this film because it is so sensory: the taste and smell of hot chocolate, the touch of the dressing gown, the sight of the Northern Lights and, of course, the sound of the bell, which rings for all who truly believe.
Today’s Mindful Action: Smell, touch, taste everything. Spend a day giving yourself a sensory Christmas overload. Smell the pine tree, touch the frost, taste the cinnamon in your cappucino. See how many times your senses are engaged in enjoying Christmas. And finish off with Turkish Delight hot chocolate by adding a tablespoon of rose syrup to your favourite hot chocolate mix.
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.