Holidays with Talent: Andrew Mercer

Vernon-based but Newfoundland-born Cod Gone Wild frontman Andrew Mercer shares his holiday stories

What was your favourite Christmas memory growing up?

There are many great memories that come to mind when I think about Christmas growing up in Newfoundland. One that particularly stands out is the year that my dad thought it would be a good idea to give my grandmother a budgie bird for Christmas. We surprised her with the bird on Christmas Eve. She was indeed surprised, shocked really, that we would gift her a bird for Christmas. As it turned out, dad was right. It was a great gift for her, something to keep her company in a big lonely house. She named it Nikki and eventually taught the bird how to talk.

What kind of traditions do you and your family celebrate at Christmas?

As with most families Christmas often revolved around two things. Eating and visiting. Each seemingly to be an equally steadfast tradition in Newfoundland. Same meal, same day, same people — every year. That’s just the way it was. On Dec. 23 we would always take in my friends “Tibb’s Eve” or “Tipsy Eve” party which is a tradition in Newfoundland the night before Christmas Eve when you go out and party/drink with your friends before you have to spend the rest of the holidays with you family. There was always music and multiple musicians belting out their favourite tunes until the wee hours of the morning. That day my mother would cook ham and scalloped potato, my favourite. Christmas Eve was a time for family. We would always eat steak and veggies on Christmas Eve, a tradition that started with my mother’s family when she was growing up. After dinner we would head to my Aunt Verna and Uncle Dave’s, where we would basically repeat what happened on Tibb’s Eve, just at a different house and crew. Christmas morning we would wake to the smell of turkey in the oven, we sat around the tree opening presents and dad made his homemade eggnog, which coincidentally became much tastier when I turned nineteen. The entire time thinking about the turkey and the traditional Newfoundland jigg’s dinner that was to come. As we’d say in Newfoundland, some sockin’ good!

What does Christmas mean to you?

For me, Christmas is always a time for family and friends, but also a time for reflection. Reflection on the past year, the good the bad, the things that could be better. For me it’s also a time to reconnect with people that you may have lost touch with over the year or years. Not because you wanted to, but because people head down different paths with their own lives and things often get busy. It happens. So, it is always a nice time and a good reminder to reach out to people just to let them know you are thinking about them.

What makes a great Christmas tree?

As a kid we would always cut our own tree from the forest. We had a room with a 12’ ceiling and therefore always had a 12’ tree. Later, my parents replaced the real tree with an artificial one… I always hated it. Now that I am out on my own, it is a real tree all the time. What makes it though is the lights. Last year we had 3000 lights on our tree.

What is the most unique gift you have given or received?

Not that it was at all that unique, but the best gift I ever received was a guitar when I was 12. I was so excited that I didn’t sleep at all that Christmas Eve. I really didn’t think I was going to get it, but there it was Christmas morning. I never really lost that excitement for guitars or music, it was a gift that inspired me to play and practice and become the musician that I am today.


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