The cold settles in Oslo

I wake up with a dry throat and a deep voice. The sensation reminds me of those mornings after a long party. Except now I wake up next to someone I know. Partying is not the cause though, it’s getting colder, that’s what it is.

I sit on the tram this particular morning and I see an orange scarf enlaced to a post. Nothing unusual, Norwegians hang items lost on the street on a visible spot so that the owner can find it again. I get off at my regular stop, shoulders up to my ears, my hands take turns to hold my coffee thermos trying to hide in my pockets. My walk is quick but not enough to warm me up. I’m grateful my building is not far.
And then I see it again, just as I reach the entrance door: an orange scarf attached to a post. I know it’s autumn but this vivid dutch shade of orange was not on the catwalk last time I checked.

I look closer to the tag hanging from one the scarf’s arms and I read this message:

an orange scarf attached to a pole with its tag

Cheer up someone
who dreads Christmas
We wish to spread light and warmth in the city
during a period that is extra difficult for many.
If you need a scarf, this one is yours

I hold the tag for a while, re-reading the message, feeling the cold, and gradually becoming aware of my heavy coat; my feet are dry and warm and I know that soon I will be inside. I smile thinking how lucky I am. I smile at this brilliant idea. And I feel humbled by the strength of the values conveyed in a few woven threads:

Solidarity: Norwegian friend circles can be hard to permeate and there is no doubt independence and respect of individuality is important. This might be true, but this scarf reminds me that Norwegians can also be very solidary.

Trust: whether it is used or new, when you see an item hanging on a side of the path, you go by the local “lost-and-found” code. The item is there for its owner to find it again, and it stays until it’s either found or picked-up by the city cleaners. No-one would dare steal it. Don’t you dare find and keep! I grab and end of the scarf. It smells and feels new. I don’t know how long it will be here, but I know that it will meet the person it is destined to, one with a naked neck and an empty closet.

Generosity: There are so many charity organizations that help through big and small donations; non-governmental initiatives in developing countries; mobilized help in case of emergencies…. As my mom would say “Charity begins at home” and that’s why I love this campaign, because although Norway is rich, reality within its borders includes people who have so little that they will have to grab a scarf from the street.

Christmas kick-starts winter: ginger cookies are stacked on supermarket shelves and decorations are already for sale. This is only the beginning. Let’s remember to be solidary when we put our summer and autumn clothes away, let’s leave some generosity left for when the snow comes in January and February. Give a little this winter to someone you don’t know. Trust me, it will come back to you.

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