I have always loved Christmas. My family sits firmly in the “we don’t take any religions seriously,” but with both Jewish and Christian heritage, I grew up loosely celebrating both sets of holidays at this time of year. Yes, we would happily light up the Menorah with a Christmas tree decorated in the background.
Over the years my holiday spirit has waxed and waned, depending on how hectic things were in my life. There were years when I lived with roommates who couldn’t care less about decorating, and I had no extra cash to invest in festive decorations. There were years when the anxiety of getting through the season overwhelmed any desire to celebrate. But with kids in the picture, I’ve definitely felt more pressure to make it magical for them. This year, however, I’m not just doing it for them; I’m doing it for me.
Is anyone else tired of 2017? Perhaps “tired of” isn’t quite the right phrase – tired from 2017.
Genocide. Sexual predators. The threat of nuclear war. White supremacists proudly coming forward. A rogue president for our neighbours to the south. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
So many scandals, so many horrible events. So much fear, so much sadness. The 24-hour news cycle, which had previously been used only to drag stories out to interminable lengths in order to get more viewers, has now truly become a 24-hour news cycle. We have whiplash from all the events happening back-to-back. It’s exhausting, triggering, and depressing.
That’s why December is going to be the most magical month ever, for my family. Magical for my kids, but also magical for me, too. I am going to bake with my kids, do Christmas crafts, light that Menorah all eight nights, and deck the goddamn halls. We need sparkle and music and sweet treats and happiness, and throughout it all, we will be giving to those in need, to remind us that our own happiness is not where this season should end.
There’s a Danish term, hygge which is part of this goal. Pronounced “hyoo-guh,” this is one of those words that doesn’t translate exactly into English. It can be loosely defined as a kind of feeling of coziness, or creating a warm atmosphere. You can experience it and you can create it for others. My house is going to be all about the hygge. For me, that means hot chocolate for the kids, snuggling up to watch Christmas movies together, making (and drinking) mulled wine, lighting candles more often, and stringing lights and decorations anywhere I can reach.
I’m sure there will be meltdowns, because sugar. I’m sure I will threaten to call Santa multiple times to tell him the kids are being naughty. I will likely want to drink more than I should, and there will probably be at least a few nights when we end up ordering take out.
The point is that I’m going to try. Every single day, I’m going to try to make our lives that little bit sweeter during a time that can seem so dark, the moment you hear the news. And it won’t just be for the kids this year, because as a mom, it’s easy to put myself last and spend so much time sacrificing my own self-care that by Christmas Day, I’m a wreck. I want to pull up to the finish line healthy and happy.
So consider bringing some festive wonder, some hygge or whatever floats your boat, into not just your kids’ lives over the next month, but yours as well. You may enjoy the holidays as much as your kids do.