When I was a kid it wasn’t unusual to hear a knock on the door from an unexpected neighbour or friend of my parents. They were just ‘dropping in‘ because they just happened to be ‘driving by.’ In fact it was pretty common to never phone ahead to see if anyone was home, they just took that chance. Mom and Dad would invite them in and they’d all sit around the aurborite and metal kitchen table to catch up with what’s new! Mom would maintain calm as she put on the water for coffee, made some kind of canned meat sandwich she served before one of her amazing deserts that were always in the house. After an hour or more of social time, the guests would leave full of treats and good friendly conversation.
I grew up in a big booming town of about 5000 people. A place where everybody knew your name and knew where you lived. Tim grew up in a small farming community and the tradition of ‘dropping in‘ to his parents’ farm was just as popular. About 20 years after we met, Tim and I moved onto our 160 acre getaway in the woods. We custom built the house about 300 yards away from the main gravel county road. It’s a wonderful sanctuary deep into the trees where the only noise we hear is nature and the distant sounds of someone driving by. The tradition of ‘dropping in‘ was long gone by this time, so you can imaging how surprised we were if anyone we weren’t expecting ever drove down the long drive way. It didn’t happen often but when it did, it was rarely anyone who wasn’t trying to sell us something.
Some family or cultural traditions are still part of so many people’s lives and some have long past away to our distant memory and are parts of shared stories of days gone by. Like myself, Tim has been very in touch with our heritage. I eat Ukrainian food with breathless abandon and Tim cooks Swedish sweet treats that are out of this world delicious. Tim learned how to speak Swedish and I can ask for money in Ukrainian. As we prepared for a trip back to Tim’s family homeland, we discovered a Swedish tradition still practised each and every day. Fika is a long the lines of the old tradition of dropping in to a neighbours house. In Sweden around mid afternoon, friends and family gather around a cup of very strong and dark coffee and while enjoying the most delicious and rich sweets, catch up on the day and what’s happening.
Each day as we drove around Sweden, whether in a rural town or bustling urban centre we found the most unique coffee houses. Every one was serving homemade deserts and a cup of super strong java. It was such a nice way to talk about the places we had seen and experienced and to plan the rest of the day’s drive. We found some of those most incredible spaces and we ate some of the most delicious deserts.
We enjoyed every one of those days and in fact when we got back to Canada carried on with the tradition of sitting down to Fika mid afternoon a whole lot of times each week. (check out the video in ‘the Wisdom of 59’ below.)
In so many ways Social Media has taken over the tradition of ‘dropping in‘ to visit with family or friends. Right or wrong, it’s pretty easy to pick up your smart phone and check out the latest updates or photos of what everyone is doing. In so many ways I think its a perfect way to catch up with those you care about and an interesting and enlightening place to vent every now and then. So I don’t really have a problem with Twitter, Instagram…or however you socialize.
Although I will say, the biggest missed opportunity that was a result of ‘dropping in‘ is you miss the one on one conversation. Its a personal time when you can smile, laugh and gossip and even hug the people you are with. Coffee houses have changed that over the years and the young have replaced the in-house visits with a public place. If I had a regret in my life, it’s that I didn’t spend enough time, in-person with the ones I love. I am changing that since my retirement and each and every day try to make time to enjoy Fika. It’s incredible to spend time with the people who matter in my life….cuz retirement is good and a good desert with a latte is also very good!
…the Wisdom of 59!
I don’t really remember taking a ‘coffee break’ during my days at work. I do remember a whole lot of days forgetting to eat until the Keisha girls offered to pick up lunch. So the idea of taking a coffee break didn’t even cross my mind. I have since discovered that a coffee break, whether you are working or not is a whole lot of fun. Its relaxing and informative! Its rejuvenating and delicious! If I’ve learnt one thing with the Wisdom of 59, it’s to take time to relax, and Fika is the perfect way to start to do that. Don’t wait until you get to 59 to make it an important and planned part of your day. Check out my video below with some photos of our favourite Fika moments and a bit more on what Fika means.