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A Travel Tree, Grandma’s Recipe and a Neighbourhood Knees-up: Our people on their end-of-year traditions

December 23, 2020

Photo: Belinda Fewings

In these challenging times, out of step with ordinary life, many of us will take solace in the chance to reflect and celebrate with loved ones. But in the absence of the usual hallmarks - tales from holidays abroad, hugging older relatives, or a party with the neighbors – how do we mark the end of the year? We asked some of our staff for their 2020 take on tradition.

A travel tree

At home, we have two Christmas trees. Whenever I go to a new city or country I buy an ornament for one – It’s our 'travels tree'. The baubles depicting something about these places aren't always my favorite so instead, my tree includes things like keyrings of Venetian masks, a coaster from the Grand Ol Opry, and a fridge magnet from New York. Sadly, I didn’t add to it this year but we will.

 - Nicola Gormley, Scotland



My 200-year-old tradition lives on, over FaceTime

My great grandparents on both sides of my family immigrated to the United States (Minnesota and Illinois) in the late 1800s, and their Norwegian holiday traditions have carried on.

On Christmas Eve my Grandma Dahle would make lefse, lutefisk, mashed potatoes, and pitchers of melted butter to drizzle over everything. She would usually make krumkake and sometimes she’d make romegrat to eat on Christmas morning. That’s our main meal but lutefisk is not my favorite (It’s like eating fish-flavored rubber covered in petroleum jelly), so there are always more items to choose from that are more American like turkey or ham.

Grandma Dahle used to make lefse for our family and sell it in her small town of Hayfield, Minnesota. About 10 years ago, she lost her vision and most of her memories. Before she moved to a nursing home, she gave me her lefse-making apron, rolling pin, griddle, and recipe so I could carry on the tradition (but I don't sell it).

My two cousins, my mother, and I are going to make it together this year, and we’ve asked the nursing home if we can FaceTime with Grandma so she can at least hear her grandchildren carrying on her family’s tradition.

- Shannon Johnson, USA


A knees-up, two meters apart

In my neighborhood in London, there is a fantastic pub where the locals congregate on Christmas Eve. It is heart-warming to see friends and families reunite as the kids return from University or wherever they have been. Young and old regulars hug and greet each other warmly and cards and presents are swapped. Beer and mulled wine are consumed, and a bit later, shots for the brave. The landlord hands out presents for the dogs; steam cheers and carols rise up into the frosty air from the crowded beer garden. This year will not be the same, but the warmth and love will still be felt from our socially distanced seats. Waves and smiles from behind a mask will do. The small gestures matter more this year.

- Tamasine Pritchard, England 


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