As we think back on 2020, we wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for each of our members and friends of the Society. None of us could have imagined what 2020 had in store for us all. While many of our projects had to be put on hold, we remained true to our mission of Scots helping Scots and used the extraordinary circumstances we were presented with as an opportunity to reset our compass. By refocusing our organizational goals, we were able to accomplish quite a bit, despite the many challenges we all faced. Looking back, we have much to be proud of.
Highlights of our year include:
- We made a sizable donation made to Masks for Scotland, assisting their efforts to provide PPE to front-line health care workers.
- We contributed to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s appeal for donations for PPE for the Commonwealth’s front-line workers.
- Our annual scholarship program went entirely virtual and provided $77,000 to 39 college students of Scottish descent who reside in the New England area.
- We assisted in the Save Our Scotland appeal by the National Trust of Scotland and, in the process, arranged an affinity program with the National Trust to offer 15% discounts to National Trust membership for members of the Scots’ Charitable Society.
All of these contributions were in addition to our regular relief activity for Scots in the area in need.
In addition, we moved all of our meetings to virtual platforms, unveiled a new logo, and even managed to celebrate St. Andrew via an interview with a well-known Scottish storyteller, David Campbell, which was then shared with our members.
Reflecting on the year also lends itself to reflecting on traditions and some ways in which we can adapt them for our current situation. Hogmanay, the Scots word for the last day of the year, is typically a time to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality into your home. While social distancing prevents us from celebrating in typical fashion this year, many are still gathering virtually.
Since ancient times, households across Scotland have welcomed strangers through their doors with the aim of bringing good fortune for the year ahead. This tradition, called “first footing,” stems from the Gaelic practice of “qualtagh.” Traditionally, the first footer should be someone who was not already in the house when midnight struck – hence a Scottish party tradition of having one guest leave just before the bells so they can knock on the door as the new year begins. They usually come bearing gifts; per tradition, they would arrive loaded with a coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal, and whisky – gifts representing all the things the new year would hopefully bring, such as prosperity, food, warmth and good cheer.
Carrying out this tradition while still being socially distant is possible! Perhaps have a surprise guest drop in on your virtual gathering at midnight. Your virtual first footer could even take advantage of liquor delivery services and have a wee dram delivered to the organizers.
Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our efforts as Scots helping Scots and send our best wishes to you and your families. Happy Hogmanay!