Monday, December 10, 2012

Happier At Home, for the Holidays

Just finished Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. I can't seem to get enough of her. While I understand her tone is not everyone's favorite, I promise if you give her ideas a chance, her very approachable suggestions will inspire you to do some little things to make yourself happier. The bibliography at the back of her book is also a real treasure trove of wisdom and emotional intelligence - I literally photocopied the pages of it from my library copy, and plan to read many of the books she references.

One of Rubin's suggestions I have actually practiced is to mini-decorate my home for the holidays. Honestly, this one was a stretch for me. Rubin's a fan of doing a little holiday breakfast for the family on various holiday mornings - simply putting up something festive as a centerpiece on the breakfast table and then sitting down together as a family before everyone leaves for work and school on the holiday morning. Yeah, no.

Since I don't cook, and mornings are a bit too harried around here already, I decided to amend her suggestion and decorate the mantle for the holidays. So far we've done Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas - all using items we already have. Each time, the kids have jumped in and taken over decorating. So yeah, decorating the mantle has turned into some unexpected family holiday fun for all of us - DH and I like not having to be the one to do it alone, and the kids love calling the shots. Who knew? Gretchen Rubin's right again.

Have I mentioned I'm not a super happy-go-lucky holiday person?

Nevertheless, having two preschoolers has definitely changed my outlook on the December holiday season. They get so excited about decorating, about reading anything Santa-related, about pointing out the "beautiful" lights on people's homes (but lights on the exterior of our house? over my cold dead body.) I never could have predicted the sweetness of the holiday magic these two little kids have brought into my life. Now I get it.

One of our holiday traditions is watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation each year. How did I never before notice the hotness that is Beverly D'Angelo? Also, many of the late 80s fashions depicted in the movie are back again - crazy! Is little cousin Ruby Sue wearing a wig? The kids love the Julia Louis-Dreyfus character, Margot the mean neighbor. All day yesterday DS asked DD to ask him: "Why is the floor wet?" so he can respond "I don't KNOW, MARGOT!" Ds also pointed out a house that resembled The Griswold home a little too closely. Cracks me up.

What's happening in your home for the holidays?


Cloud said...

I, too, have been a bit amazed at how having kids has rehabilitated holidays. Particularly Halloween, but also Christmas. We DO have lights up on our house (my husband loves them- they don't do that so much in NZ). And I even bought a cheesy snowman holding a welcome sign for our front yard (I made the mistake of letting the kids pick some decorations to buy).

I didn't realize Gretchen Rubin was super rich, although I guess that does explain how she was able to finance her original happiness project. I find that her books stick with me, and little ideas for how to be happier come out from my memory from time to time. I'll have to check in on her bibliography now that you mention its awesomeness...

hush said...

If I lived somewhere warm, I'd be much more amenable to the exterior holiday lighting idea. At our ice-slicked house, I'm afraid anyone attempting a Griswold would hurt themselves. My son is able to call out the tacky lighting displays and praise the clever or attractive looking ones - he already has better taste than I do. ;)

oilandgarlic said...

I used to read Gretchen Rubin's blog but I think she stopped doing that. I liked that her ideas for happiness were often so simple and slightly unexpected. Can't pinpoint anything right now though! I am not a big holiday person but I do little holiday touches and have some holiday 'rituals' which I think I'll enjoy more now with kids.

Zen moo said...

We've just been outside to view our neighbours lights. They are awesome and our daughter loves them. We just put up snowflake shaped lights from ikea in our front window that glow through the blinds. Very low key in comparison to our neighbours disco ball - but a bit more relaxing and enjoyable from inside the house too.

I might have to read some of this Gretchen Rubin.

hush said...

@oilandgarlic - G. Rubin's ideas are simple and slightly unexpected, almost to the point I wonder why I didn't think of it myself since clearly this one little change makes me so much happier! Her idea that pleasing and novel scents make us happy is a great example; she suggests burning a candle or buying these little scents in a container. This is part of why I enjoy wine tasting - I love picking out the scents on the nose. She also encouraged me to bring out and actually use the bottle of beautifully-scented shower gel my mom got me for my birthday.

@Zenmoo - Some indoor snowflake lights you can see from the outside would work well for us. Yes, you should check out Rubin's site: