Christmas Hygge

In my part of the world, way down at the foot of Africa, it has been unbearably hot. The afternoon thunderstorms that bring relief from the shimmering heat have been delayed. Since Christmas is a time of excess and little self control, it has been uncomfortable to gorge on deliciously rich food and do anything more taxing than melt into a chair and sip iced water.

The Christmas tree went up in the early hours of the morning and for a plastic tree it looked thirsty. The branches drooped under the weight of shiny baubles and the tinsel was disconsolate and sulky.

Five strands of Christmas lights required more adhesive materials than the hardware store stocked. The sticker pads melted every day and the lights ended up on the ground, dusty and twinkling feebly against the wattage of the sun.

A massive cooking effort, labouring over a hot stove and oven resulted in pools of sweat and no appetite for anything. The freezer worked overtime to keep up with ice cube demand and the swimming pool turned into a bath. But still we persevered with the Christmas spirit.

We have perspired our way through December, hopefully scanning the achingly blue sky for any sign of a cloud. Our hopes were burnt. Daily, Santa was asked for rain. Cooling, blessed, life giving rain.

There is nothing hygge about being so hot that your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and your eyes burn. No amount of water can quench your thirst or cool you down. No relief came when dusk fell, the humidity rose and our heads throbbed. We were living in a pressure cooker, tempers were flaring like the fires in Alexandra and there was no end in sight.

We ran the gauntlet to the shops for last minute presents, food, decorations and other non essential items. We moaned and complained and fanned ourselves. And we spent money. We threw it at the shops, restaurants, bars and play centres. We couldn’t burn through it fast enough. We needed a distraction from the heat and a hot and bothered toddler.

Fever pitch.

When it felt as though our blood was boiling in our veins, we took a step back, wiped the sweat from our eyes and looked around at the monumental effort that goes into making Christmas bigger and better than the year before. We tuned out the adverts, the shows, the news and the billboards. We looked at each other and although we were hot and sticky we hugged each other hard and we held each other close. In my little family of three, we broke the fever and remembered what the holidays are really about. Family, friends, love and care. Respect, kindness, fun and delight in each new day. Time spent with the people we love is worth more than a million presents under the tree. Memories made and captured last longer than any toy. This will be the hottest Christmas we’ve had so far but it is also the summer my son learned to swim fearlessly.

The heat broke two days after Christmas. The clouds grew and swelled and the air changed. The winds threw up dust and cooled the earth and our skin. We lifted our heads, closed our eyes and breathed the thundering atmosphere deep into our lungs.

And then the rains came.

I miss the rains down in Africa – Toto




Happiness Curtailed

The other day I read that parents are less happy than the childless. After my automatic snort of derision, I was forced to agree.

Before having a child my husband and I used to go out for dinner to gorgeous restaurants at least once a week, we binge watched shows, played music loudly and stayed up late. We had conversations that didn’t revolve around the intake and output of our offspring, hangovers were a minor inconvenience and our clothes were clean. We spent our nights in the same bed and woke up together when we decided to. We went on holiday on a whim and worked late and went out for drinks with nary a second thought.

We did what we wanted, when we wanted.

We are living under a dictatorship ruled by a nonsensical tyrant who has just turned two. Our freedom has been curtailed by a human being we really, really wanted in our lives. A human being that we fought for.

I am not unhappy being a mother but it is a lie to say that I don’t resent the chains that have been placed around me. The small person taking over our lives brings immeasurable amounts of joy every day but there is a constant soundtrack of nursery rhymes, food smeared on every surface and my car looks like crack addled teenagers have been living in it. I don’t know what the inside of a restaurant looks like but I can accurately remember every item on our doctor’s desk. I am bitten, scratched and kicked daily and the last time my husband and I went anywhere together was when we organised a day off and the child was at school. Sometimes I arrange a babysitter and work late just to have some time off. I would give my kidney to sleep late and have a lazy weekend with my man. Sometimes I feel like there is a noose around my neck and my child is playing with the trapdoor.

History has buried freedom fighters in the hundreds, people who died for causes that I have never had to experience. It is ironic to know that I would readily die for the creature who has taken my freedom away.

For the next decade or so I am responsible for my child’s happiness and I worry that his happiness is at the cost of my own. What does that leave me with when he spreads his little wings to wreak happy havoc on the world?

ForĀ their tomorrow, we gave our today – John Maxwell Edmonds

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Hygge + Hair

I never have my hair done. It’s an indulgence that makes me uncomfortable and I also avoid staring at myself in a mirror for an extended period of time. As my journey of hygge and happiness has evolved, I have realised that it is important to look after oneself.

But it doesn’t come naturally.

My hair is a sore spot for me. It is suffering from an identity crisis. I have noticed that the condition of my hair is the most obvious sign of how I am feeling about myself at a given point in time. Right now it is stressed, unloved and falling out.

Add to the fact that I am intimidated by traditional salons with their harsh lighting, loud noises and impersonal service I avoid having my hair done professionally as much as I can.

And then, my brothers came to the rescue and are helping me help my hair.

Forbici Salon [owned by said brother and brother from another mother] is designed to make people feel good. The lighting is easy on the eye, the decor is welcoming and chic without being pretentious and most of all everyone who comes through the door is happy to be there in that hygge space. You can’t force that feeling, that is real. Living plants and artwork pop up in unlikely places, feathers lift in the breeze and faux animal heads watch over you. My cappuccino came in a burgundy and gold cup and saucer. Massive couches and modern chairs, faux fur blankets and sliding doors to the garden lift my spirits and I am content. I am cosy. I am safe.

My heart is full.

Forbici is a thirty minute drive from my house but I will return because my two brothers are helping me heal my hair and in turn, myself.

It is not indulgent to make yourself feel good, it is traitorous to put yourself on the back burner. When you are on the back burner you simmer, then you boil over and then the flame goes out.

All the stars are closer – Kendrick Lamar