It’s the first of December as I write and, in the UK, we continue to live under COVID restrictions. England’s about to exit a second national lockdown, while here in Scotland, we’re living in a tiered system of limited travel and connection. A journal entry I wrote back in March shows my expectation that this would be done within a few weeks; not so much. And now we’re preparing for a Christmas season that doesn’t look like those we’ve had before.
I’ve written on this site before about my love of Christmas: the travel, the pace, snatching minutes with cherished friends, spending quiet moments by the fire with family. It’s all a bit different this year.
As the effects of the pandemic go, I’m not going to pretend I haven’t had it easy. But even the easiest circumstances in 2020 are hard in their own way, and I’ve spent the year adjusting my mindset to the new reality. That’s no different in December. And my disappointment at not being able to follow my usual traditions is giving way to appreciation of this new approach to things: the simplicity of a slow Christmas.
Here’s how I’m changing things up this year, to capture the magic of the season in a different way:
Leaning into a calm, quiet Advent
This time of year is usually hectic, with work commitments, social occasions and Christmas shopping. But the Advent season is traditionally one of quiet reflection, waiting for the dawn of Christmas Day. Aside from opening the little door on the Advent calendar, this has been lost for me for many years. But this year, I’m taking a moment each day to be calm, to light a candle and to reflect. My tools for this are Tsh Oxenreider’s beautiful new book Shadow and Light and some traditional carols. Even though there’s still plenty to do, this daily quiet practice is keeping me centered through this season.
Delighting the senses
Spending so much more time at home than usual, it’s more important this year that my space feels like the season. So the tree is already up and decorated with twinkly lights and my favourite silver, turquoise and pink decorations. For the first time in a new neighbourhood, we wrapped lights around the outside of our house and are taking walks when the sun goes down at 4pm to see the homes around us light up. I’ll fill my home with the smell of cinnamon and play my favourite Christmas songs. I’ll wrap up warm in fleecey blankets to drink hot tea and eat mince pies. I’ll mix old traditions with the new normal, and bring more of the season into my home.
Supporting small businesses
They say you can use your money as a vote for the kind of world you want. I love choosing gifts for the people I love. And Britain is filled with incredibly talented makers and creators producing everything from jewellery to clothing to homewares to gin. Choosing to buy from them feels like a small way to do my bit for my community as we look to the new year with hope for life beyond the pandemic. I’d share what I’m buying, but my mum reads what I write and I don’t want to spoil the surprise…
Christmas looks very different in 2020. I’ll miss the hustle and bustle, the rush of the season. But there’s joy in the quiet, too – and that’s what I’m seeking with intention this year. How about you?