I am writing in regards to the article in the Family Section of The Post-Journal on Jan. 12 entitled ''Tjugondedag Knut Day, A Swedish Tradition: What is It?'' I was pleased to see the article as Gerald Haglund was a good family friend, as I remember, growing up. Helen and Jennie Vimmerstedt were my great-great aunts and this holiday was celebrated every year in their home. Many Swedish people have no idea what it is, but I can assure you, in our family it is very real and still celebrated. The location has changed, which can not be disclosed, but we still gather on Jan. 13 every year, or very close to that day.
We have our own spin on things and I will share those with you. On this day, we get together with our family and have a dinner together. Following dinner the small children in the family decorate a small Christmas tree that is placed on the table. After the tree is decorated, there is dancing and singing with all the family, young and old. We have a wonderful time, many times ending up laughing so hard we cry. After the singing and dancing we generally gather together and instead of the candies and cookies as treats we do something a bit different. Each person gets a gift and the gift does not hold a nametag, but a poem about one of the family members. Each poem is written for each person in the family with little anecdotes about what that person does or likes, other family members guess who the poem is for and the gift goes to that person.
Basically this day is special because it brings us together as a family to celebrate. Helen and Jennie were remarkable people who believed in tradition and family values. We continue this family tradition in honor of the legacy they left and because we believe that it keeps us close and reminds us where we come from. We miss Helen and Jennie terribly even though it has been 20 years since their passing. Helen used to write the poems, and they were sometimes sarcastic, sometimes meaningful, but always filled with love, and her eyes would twinkle when she read them and she would stifle laughter while people tried to guess. Jennie would often shake her head and nudge Helen in dismay. I am sure that there are people in the community who remember these two sisters, as they touched a lot of lives. It is not too often that people stick to tradition and learn the true meaning of family anymore. I can tell you I am blessed to be in a family who believes in such traditions and is willing to carry on with them and pass them to the next generation. My daughter, nieces and nephew are lucky to be able to grow in a family that holds these things close to the heart. Thank you for article about this Swedish holiday. Helen and Jennie would be proud.
Bonnie C. Schnars is a resident of Jamestown.