The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Dear Mary-Sue: Holiday travel plans & profound epiphanies

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at

Dear Mary-Sue,

Would love some great travel tips for this holiday season. 

Anon, Vermont.

Dear Anon,

I love this time of year. Admittedly for a traveler it can be a very expensive and chaotic time so I try and strike a balance between travel and being at home. The Wallace household, like many families across the fine, fertile land, has its own holiday traditions that we like to observe at this time. For me, it’s about spending some time with little John, the intelligent one of my two grandkids, he comes over to stay  the weekend before Christmas. We make sure to make chex mix and drink hot mulled cider. We head on over to St Michael’s where we go to the annual Handel’s Messiah sing-in. My soprano leaves a little to be desired, but it’s always great fun nonetheless. John will then help me decorate the Christmas tree and then we’ll go and see all the wonderful lights that my neighbors who haven’t foreclosed have covered their houses in.

On Christmas Eve it’s time for John to go back to his parents, that’s when me and hubby Jake things up and it becomes all about just the two of us. We pack all of our warmest, snuggliest clothing and get on a plane to Reykjavik. Once there we also stay at  our favorite hotel near the Hallgrimskirkja. Once we’ve slept off our jet lag and had a lovely cup of hot chocolate, we then give it large until New Year’s Eve. There’s one club, in particular, we hang out in called the Birch Tree. Now hubby Jake likes his trance to be fairly chilled, but I’m more about old skool Acid trance. When Gunnar is DJing at the Birch Tree he always manages to give a set that balances hubby Jake’s tastes with mine. We then might hit the sauna and do some shots of Brennivin with this South African couple we always meet up with at Christmas, because that’s what the season is about for ol’ Mary-Sue – celebrating your own traditions.



Dear Mary-Sue,

Earlier this month, as I was trekking through the Kilimanjaro National Park, which is in Tanzania, with these local guys who I knew, I was struck by — and the readership of my blog The Wistful Traveler all agreed — a beautifully profound thought.  It was about how fortunate I was to be there at that moment, to be alive in the now. I blogged about it, you should check it out on my blog. There’s some pretty amazing pictures there too. Now my question to you Mary-Sue is this, do you have any profound thoughts like I do?

The Wistful Traveler, Everywhere and nowhere.

Only when drinking Brennivin.


Dear Mary-Sue,

Thank you so much for responding to my question in last month’s “Ask Mary-Sue.” I was so pleased to be featured that I’m sending an early Christmas present of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for you. Anyhoo, I was wondering if you might want to reconsider your response that you can’t meet up for coffee. I’ve tried calling your office, but they keep saying that you’re out. Such a shame as I really would love to pick your brains over coffee – not literally, ha, ha, ha. That would just be disturbing. You’re my inspiration.

Susie-May, Arizona

Dear Susie May,

Thanks for the present. My unpaid intern tells me that they were delicious. Unfortunately, my calendar is really full at the moment.


p.s. You really should stop calling my office.


Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to share your fave meatloaf recipe with me (yum! yum!). As they say in Italy, “ciao!”

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. She has taken a credited course in therapy from Tulsa Community College and is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Wednesday’s post — another Random Nomad in our global philanthropy series.

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