I wasn't really looking forward to Christmas this year... but I did my best on the run up to the big day to prepare for the rest of the family so that we could all hopefully have a nice relaxing and somewhat "fun" time together...However, It's been difficult to get into the jolly mindset when most of the time all I feel is a sense of grief.
I haven't felt much like writing over this period either....mostly I've just wanted to hide away, be quiet and contemplate... but I did try to spend time with my lovely family ...
We watched films....ate food.... (and no I'm not drowning my sorrows away in the pic below... its ginger beer!)
.... we sweated out all the Christmas treats by sitting in The Sauna together (in our new sauna hats that my son and daughter in law gave as gifts... (we can now officially be called the Gnome family!)
We visited the lights at Kew gardens
(A Gift of light and love and togetherness from Heni to the family....she would have loved it...)
...and we have been on some lovely scenic walks.
We played games by the fire indoors....
...roasted marshmallows over the fire pit outside...
...and spent some time catching up with a few friends. Surprisingly, I also did have that opportunity to hide away and spend some "chill out and contemplate" time enjoying reading a few books.... something I haven't had a chance to do very much of lately.
One of the books I read was a gift I received for Christmas....it's called the Little book of Hygge (sounds like Hooga but I like to call it Hoogy!) by Meik Wiking.
I had never heard the term before but as I look around now, it seems to be talked about everywhere. The Danes are experts at it.... and at this time of year (mid winter ..... although the "hoogy" factor can be felt year round) it is particularly good time to practice it.... if that's what you do!? The main idea is one of creating cosyness, comfort and intimacy and enjoying the little pleasures in life... such as the simple experience of drinking cocoa by the fire and being in the presence of people we love .... it is having a sense of atmosphere and the feeling of "home".
I guess without realizing it... our family, fire and candlelit time this year all created a very Hygge Christmas... the only major Hygge element still missing was Heni (see her story here here and here )... and she was noticeably absent.
It was a different Christmas..... I enjoyed the "highs" of all the other "hoogy" moments.... but I was also very conscious of her lack of presence this year... the lack of her rolling in the wrapping paper, her noises and giggles as she would play with her toys while we all opened gifts.... her smiles and hugs and her traditional nap time....sleeping peacefully on the mattress under the lights of the Christmas tree....she taught me a lot about slowing down and being here and now.
I learned a few more things about slowing down from the other book I managed to read (one my son was in the middle of reading).... In Praise of SLOW by Carl Honore.
paradoxically, in my race against the clock and hurry to read the book I would try to cram in a few chapters here and there whenever he left it lying around (before he took it back home again!)
We live in a society where everything is speeding up faster and faster .......Carl points out that we are all becoming overextended in all areas of life as the increasing pace of life is becoming the norm and illness and burnout are on the rise.... as we fill ourselves with the busyness of life there is no space left to take time to look at the deeper questions of life or to check in with how we are feeling.... physically or emotionally.
We skim over or hide the irritations, frustrations, stress and signs of disharmony and disorder that go hidden... bubbling under the surface...
With the emergence of today's lifestyles of speed walking, speed dialing, speed dating, speed reading and all other forms of speed.....the reader is reminded for the need and blessings that come with slowing down.
Reading this book brought a timely intimation to me that you can't rush grief either...you can't just skim over the emotions that loss and death bring and try not to feel them. Hiding them or boxing them away will only mean they will rear their ugly head again further down the line in the future. Likewise, everyone's pace is different... and there is nothing wrong with that. It's important to "find your own pace" in grief and move forwards only as and when you are ready.
So the "Hoogy" and the "Slow" this Christmas was just what I needed to emphasize to me the importance of not feeling guilty, for still "feeling" Heni's loss so acutely. It was a lesson to trust the process, and that just because others may be further ahead than me, it is still very early days... and it's all ok.
Now, when others ask me how I'm adjusting, I can tell them that I'm going with the flow and taking the TIME that I need right now to move through the various stages of grief... that it's a journey to be experienced and not skipped over and fast tracked... that there is something for everyone to learn in the process and passage through it... and that by going too fast you can miss the lessons.
I'm also trying to take the time to look for the many "hoogy" factors and to enjoy the moments of comfort, cosyness and love and togetherness with family and friends... and appreciate and savour the simple pleasures of life that are still all around me.
Its been a very sad time these past few months for the Trisomy groups... there have been a lot of our children called home (and others who have lost loved ones in the wider community). Amid all the loss however, I hope that you all had a relaxing and hygge Christmas and enjoyed your precious families ...and... I pray that as you move forwards into this new year ahead you can feel confident to live life at your own beat and not feel pressured to move at someone else's pace...
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, "hoogy" and "slow" new year.
Until next time