Garden gatherings

Norwegians have a word, “koselig”, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. Norwegians embrace long dark winters as something to celebrate. They see it as a season not just to endure but a season to enjoy.


As Europe faces a second wave many of us face a long, dark, winter ahead, full of uncertainty and many changes. The New York Times recently published an article “What Scandinavians Can Teach Us About Embracing Winter. Having read this and having a boss from Norway I decided that this, of all years, was the year to take some tips from his culture.

For us, this long, dark winter came sooner than expected. Last week Track and Trace got in touch, I’d been close to a friend that had tested positive. I was at high risk of having the virus and spreading it, so we were asked to isolate immediately. We’ve been home now for 9 days, there have been many lows as we’ve struggled without routine or friends around us. But in the midst of this time, we’ve been so grateful to the love poured out to us. On Sunday afternoon Katherine came round with flowers, chocolates and an important message. She wanted us to know this… “The Dawson’s are not an island, you never were and never will be. You belong to us and we belong to you, we’re a community”.

“You are not an island you never were and never will be. You belong to us and belong to you, we’re a community”.


In self isolation, we’ve realised afresh, that we need people. We’ve realised that we’re part of something much bigger than ourselves. We’re part of a community, of friendships built on love, serving others and generosity. And yet due to all the restrictions friendships and socialising is just so complicated. Despite the effort of friendship in these times of restriction, despite the ever changing rules. We want to pursue friendships and meeting people this winter.


We want to see this as a season not just to endure but a season to enjoy. So we as a family have created a series of recipe cards called “Garden gatherings”. These recipes have been trialled, tested and devoured by my lovely family. Each night in lockdown we’ve had a fire pit accompanied by Enid Blyton’s The Sea of Adventure. Reading stories of quarantined children and their travels to mysterious Isles has brought both a sense of perspective and hope. It’s been a tonic to our souls. We’ve loved eating, laughing by candle light and listening to stories. But we’re excited that soon… hopefully… once we’re out of lockdown, that we’ll be able to invite others to join us too.


We’re hoping that these will inspire you to do the same. To open your garden or meet in a park and gather together this winter. These could be great for half term, meeting up with friends or gathering a community group. So join us this winter, you’re not an island. Get on your woolly coats and hats, live like a Norwegian and pursue friendship, even in the cold!

More Garden gathering recipe cards, find more here on Nay’s Instagram account or read this Why the rule of six could help your friendships.


Published by Nay Dawson

Nay works with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. She works on the European Regional leadership team for the charity. She was the Revive Extra Plenary Director for one of largest Student Conferences in Europe. Nay is the founder of Passion for Evangelism. PfE is a network of creative, public female speakers. Helping hundereds of women grow in confidence in public communication. Nay set up an initiative called Community in a crisis. CIAC has been helping churches and charities across Europe get online during the pandemic.

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