“And mamma in her’ kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap…” – from “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore
This December will complete one of the weirdest, longest years with the polarizing election and pandemic.
A long winter’s nap sounds incredible, given the mental exhaustion of our country.
No doubt, the Yuletide season will be as muted as every other 2020 holiday: no parties, parades, pageants, chorales, and a slim Christmas for many.
To keep spirits up, we might turn to Northern Europeans who have long cultivated a lifestyle to get through long, dark periods without much light.
The Danes, measurably some of the most contented people, have developed the habit during the winter of hygge. It’s a bit difficult to translate, but it entails cultivating a sense of coziness, alone or with friends or family, while minimizing activity. It often involves snuggling under soft, warm blankets or quilts, sipping hot beverages, and enjoying snugness.
In our society, it is probably identified as “cocooning” which may sound dreadful after so much lockdown and the attendant cabin fever. But it doesn’t involve activity. It’s warm nesting. No pressures.
The Dutch, renowned for their industriousness and thrift, have found the same settling into contentedness with nikson. It roughly means what parents of teenagers dub laziness and wandering without direction, but maybe adolescents are on to something.
Also, a very happy people, the Dutch feel the need to cultivate the art of purposefully doing nothing: restorative idleness. Nikson has no purpose as many do with meditation or centering. It’s about daydreaming, relaxing with no agenda, no pressure, no goals, no activity. No need to attain enlightenment or anything but deep rest.
How different from our society needing to be entertained or to work, to produce, or to self-improve. It’s hard to be disappointed with no expectations. There is no “progress” in nikson.
Instead of presents, maybe a trip to a country cabin to stare at a fire is what Santa will bring.
Or in my case, I’ll be doing hygge by the hearth with my new puppy, Rascal. New life is also what Christmas is about.
May everyone have the spirit of peace at the end of 2020. Maybe thus refreshed, we can come together as a people.
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