My mantra for this last holiday season was hygge. I recently learned about this Danish concept of comfort and coziness, and it was exactly what I needed. I aimed for cozy comfort at every opportunity, starting with taking some time off when I really needed it.

I booked a staycation at a lovely hotel in the city before the frenzy of the season and indulged my inner child at a Christmas music and light show.


I focused on simple pleasures like a cup of tea with biscuits and a cup of cocoa, read Christmas books, and watched my comfort movies.


I jazzed up canned cranberry sauce with some apples and spices, and my sister cooked Filipino shortbread called polvoron.


I carved out some quiet time in my favorite coffee shop, and enjoyed the holiday decorations in the malls.


I spent a lot of time working on my Christmas junk journal.


And of course we ate great food! My brother made his special paella, my sister made our favorite classic potato salad, and my other sister made chicken pie. For some, the smells of Christmas are  gingerbread and spices, but for me, the smell of Christmas is chicken pie. It was always our Christmas Eve dinner when I was growing up, though in recent years we’ve experimented with different dishes. We’ve gone back to classic dishes now, and when I smell the crust baking, the cream of mushroom soup, and sausages, I know that it’s officially Christmas. Yum.