The Christmas of 2020 was different. In our family, one of the favorite Christmas traditions revolves around stockings. Each year, we choose names for the stockings. Each person has one family member’s stocking to fill. We spend a good deal of time thinking about and shopping for our person’s stocking gifts. Then, on Christmas morning, we gather by the fire with a cup of coffee or tea and open our stockings one by one, each person trying to guess who filled his/her stocking! Someone always adds something silly or something to throw off the guessing. The morning is filled with fun and laughter and some of the most personal and thoughtful gifts imaginable.
This year we could not gather inside, so the stocking tradition was seriously threatened. But then we started thinking…….How CAN we make this happen? My sister and her husband live in South Carolina, and they were not going to travel. My stepsisters and families live about an hour away. We started brainstorming. We discussed changing the tradition so that people would just exchange stockings with their immediate family members. We talked about Zoom. We talked about lots of ideas, until we landed on this one: Let’s gather around the fire pit outside (My sister would have to join on FaceTime from South Carolina.)! So it will be cold. We can dress up with warm clothes, hats, boots, and scarves. And we did. I set up coffee and my mom’s traditional Swedish coffee cake. We bought a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree and decorated it with lights, and we nailed hooks to a tree near the fire pit and hung our stockings there. We gathered, we opened, we guessed, and we laughed. The outdoor stocking celebration might have been one of the most wonderful Christmas experiences of all times. We might even do it next year and every year after that!
The Norwegians have a word for this concept of embracing outdoor living (even when the weather is cold and unfriendly). The word is Friluftstliv. According to one Norwegian, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
So Happy Frilufstliv to all!