This is a hard admission for me – I didn’t quite get Christmas right this year.
The cottage was decorated with huge paper snowflakes, evergreen branches and red wooden hearts and of course there were candles lit everywhere. There were moments of hygge; wrapping gifts, drinking Schnapps and laughing hopelessly with my eldest daughter and her silly, loving man, the glow of the fire, waiting for the whole almond in the risalamande on Christmas Eve, standing in front of the tree bright with candles, looking down the length of two tables pushed together at our family and friends gathered to celebrate, sitting alone at the bottom of the stairs to keep the tree company for a little longer before bed. I held on to those moments but my underlying feeling was of the silence and real stillness that was escaping me, possibly us all.
How many of us really found the peace we look for at the close of the year, the space for just a bit of contemplation and time to feel restored? If we’re honest, could we admit to feeling compelled to uphold all those lovely winter traditions for each other but silently bear the mounting cost? I don’t just mean the escalating price of the gifts we choose to give or the pace of the festivities, I mean the fatigue of pretence. Honesty and real hygge are interlaced.
Hygge isn’t the ‘complete absence of anything overwhelming’ that it’s often declared to be. It’s a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life, a way of illuminating the dark and inviting the warmth, simplicity and connection that contrast chaos and smooth anxiety.
Hygge can’t really happen if we are hiding from reality, from admitting to the strain of expense and expectation. Few of us can comfortably sustain the pretence that Christmas and New Year don’t bring enormous strain for thousands of people but with honesty and a good dose of love we can make it easier.
Lighting a candle doesn’t pay the bills, empty the septic tank or excuse spending wildly in the post Christmas sales but it can help us keep perspective and remember to celebrate the light in each other through the year to come.
Posted by Louisa Thomsen Brits on 2 January 2013