Hygge is not the onomatopoeic word for the action of coughing up a hairball. It is (as I’m sure you’ve discovered) the Danish one-word embodiment of the concept that best translates as ‘cosiness’. I love it – because it lends a fashionable kudos to my previously slightly uncool tendency to be a homebody. It neatly sums up what Christmas is all about for us – cosiness, contentment, family, food, and relaxation, and we’ve been unwittingly been practising it since long before it became the latest ‘Homes and Gardens’ must-have trend.
We had the most lovely, cosy, happy time. And before anyone says ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’, because you can guarantee someone will, let me tell you: happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance.
My parents had far more fun sharing Christmas dinner with us than eating it in their own quiet, immaculate house off the Royal Doulton dinner service, because it meant they spent the day with their grandchildren – the mismatched plates did not matter, nor the Christmas Eve balloon incident that left me with only two wine glasses (the balloon was not entirely to blame – Freddie was on the other end of it).
They like us, also found it especially good to have big brother Harry back home for a while, to have him sitting with us in the living room of an evening chatting, and enjoying a drink. I had imagined that having him living away from home would get easier as tie went by, but it doesn’t; it gets harder. It’s slowly sinking in that his childhood really is over, no going back; like we’re losing him little by little, and it breaks my heart a bit more every time we have to say goodbye. It’s come too soon.
Even Daddy, who has the kind of highly tuned senses that mean he tends to find the noise and smells of other people somewhat … intrusive, not only survived being cooped up for ten days with a gleefully shouting, singing, farting eight-year-old (and a lavishly farting nearly-twenty-year-old with a taste for toenail ale), but even professed himself reluctant to go back to the relative peace and quiet of work. We left the children and old folks in the living room and went off into the kitchen and cooked Christmas dinner together. Santa helped us out by bringing Freddie quiet toys like playmobile and lego, and the surprise hit – a set of old-fashioned wooden nine-pins. something we all joined in with, using our narrow hallway as a bowling alley ( i quickly learned to line the skirting boards woth cushions. I also taught Freddie a simple card game, Go Boom (we haven’t quite worked our way up to Poker yet, but we’re working on it – never say I don’t go out of my way to teach him valuable life skills!) I wasn’t sure how much he got out of it at first, but on the last day before he went back to school he asked me for a ‘game’. when I asked which game he wanted he said ‘cards’. So I parked my chores for a while and we played a couple of hands, just me and him, in the quiet house.
So, the long-awaited Christmas break has come and gone in the blink of an eye. One of the last things we did before everyone went back to work and school was to book several sort breaks in the UK, at budget ‘hotels’ (chains like Travelodge and Premier Inn), scattered throughout the months from February to August. The samey-ness of these places is helpful to Freddie, as, after the first couple of times he’ll know what to expect
. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can go abroad if we want to, but this year is going tobe about building little pockets of fun and relaxation into our lives wherever we can, instead of one big blow-out which, like Christmas, is anticipated for ages, but over in the blink of an eye.