Column: Christmas every week

“Christmas is becoming one of the last islands of tranquility that Sundays used to be only a few decades ago,” writes Design Stories columnist Hanna-Katariina Mononen.

Ast stool by Vaarnii
Hanna-Katariina Mononen has learned to approach Christmas with tentative kindness. The Ast pine stool is by Vaarnii.

“EVERY YEAR, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier.” This is a popular mantra around this time of the year, and few of us have managed not come to this realization ourselves. It’s uttered in disdain between the shelves at the store when spotting the first confectionery boxes or advent calendars, or perhaps repeated in a witty Facebook post – at least back when Facebook was still being used – or parroted in a column.

My relationship with Christmas is by no means uncomplicated. Just as many others, I have also come to regard the festive season as a stressful period laden with high expectations, a time when no one, for some reason, acts as they normally do. These past few years, I’ve taught myself to approach the holiday season with tentative kindness instead of cynicism and found my own way of enjoying the end of the year. And even though I may have, along with the other cynics, been rolling my eyes at the Christmas that seems to come earlier and earlier every year, I’ve started to think that perhaps there could, in fact, be a bit of Christmas here and there and not just at the end of the year.

There’s no denying the conflict between what we hope Christmas to be like and how it’s presented to us from the outside. The commercial powers of the world only add to the seasonal stress that we could well do without, and that’s a fact that is not about to change any time soon. I’d still like to believe that nowadays, we are more and more capable of drawing a line between what we actually want and the external pressure and expectations. After all, we’ve all read sufficiently many insights on how Christmas is just as stressful as we make it out to be – banally simple, but so true.

“There’s no denying the conflict between what we hope Christmas to be like and how it’s presented to us from the outside.”

When I’m talking about Christmas here, I’m talking about the traditional holiday that has evolved into its current form over the centuries. Of course, everyone celebrates it (or doesn’t) according to their own values. My Christmas, however, is only about peace in its many forms. I like many things associated with Christmas. I have a habit of watching Home Alone every Christmas, and this year, I’m particularly excited about it, as now I know that Fuller, the Pepsi-swigging little kid, was played in the movie by no other than Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother Kieran Culkin, who also played the delightfully horrible Roman Roy in Succession. Instead of candlelight and bundt cake with dates, the best thing about Christmas is the magical atmosphere that makes those few days special. It’s perhaps best described as peace of mind given by the fact that no one’s expecting anything from you for a few days.

Christmas is becoming one of the last islands of tranquility that Sundays used to be only a few decades ago. I’m still a bit baffled by the fact that nowadays, stores may be open every day of the week and some even are 24/7. When I was growing up, public holidays and Sundays were days when it was not appropriate to disturb anyone by making a (landline) call, let alone by popping in for a visit. Weekends felt somehow truly calm. For some reason, Christmas has managed to remain a period of peace and quiet. It’s the only time of the year when you’re not expected to be available.

In other words, we live most of the year in the middle of hustle and bustle to get a brief respite at the end of it. So, instead of Christmas coming earlier and earlier every year – now, fellow cynics, pay attention – could every Sunday be like Christmas?

A holiday table setting
The festive season is a great time to try new recipes in the kitchen. Image: Suvi Kesäläinen.

My recommendation: New cooking skills

CHRISTMAS DINNER gives an excellent reason to learn a new skill. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart, but I like learning to make new things in the kitchen. For example, this year, I’d like to learn to make French madeleines or canelés, or perhaps both. This fall, I’ve also been practicing how to make different sandwiches, and so, to have the right cookware, I could ask Santa for a griddle pan.

All kitchenware > 

Hanna-Katariina Mononen

The author, Hanna-Katariina Mononen, reflects on the issues of a beautiful and sustainable life in her monthly column for Design Stories. She thinks that just like in life, in the home, the most beautiful parts are unplanned – and often relatively ordinary as well.

Text and image: Hanna-Katariina Mononen

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