Saturday, August 12, 2017

Getting Back to My Roots

Old Swedish Table Prayer

To this day, I still don't have the complete picture of my Mom's side of the family. Each family member that I have (rarely) encountered, always told me something a little different. For years I was convinced that my maternal DNA was compiled from a mish-mash of fifteen different nationalities! My maternal grandfather died before I was born, but his last name is Harris. While no one has ever told me much about him -- as it's only my maternal grandmother's side we talk about -- his last name was Harris, which is English, so I assume him to be English. My Great Aunt Norma (my maternal grandmother's sister) has carefully traced our Native American heritage so I know I am a percentage, I'm just not sure how much. I've figured out over the years that we are descended from the Scotch-Irish that settled in Appalachia and worked it's way down to southern Missouri. 

This unsurety in heritage does not extend to my Dad's side of the family. We are without a doubt, 100% Swedish. My paternal grandfather joined the U.S. Army after serving in the Swedish Army in order to become a U.S. Citizen, and half my paternal grandmother's siblings were born in Sweden with the other half being born here after emigrating. I grew up with my Dad and my paternal grandparents and we knew our heritage. I listened in fascination as my older relatives talked in Swedish; I pored over the letters that would come from cousins still living in the Old Country; we'd decorate the house in pure Swedish tradition for Christmas; I'd read the Old Swedish Prayer hangings that adorned the walls of my Grandparent's home; I'd help & sample all the delicious traditional foods my Grandma would make (hello Swedish pancakes, pepparkakor, and meatballs!); and under the American flag that flew proudly on the flagpole, the Swedish flag flew proudly underneath.


Swedish Dala horses.
My grandparents have long passed, but when I look around me now, I can see the remnants of those bygone days: the Swedish map tapestry that hangs on my wall; the Mors Dag plate I bought my Grandma as a gift one Mother's Day; the tiny Swedish dictionary that's at least 60 years old; just to name a few. I think about the summers we spent at my Grandma's oldest brother's home in Northern Minnesota (he was the patriarch of the family) on the lake, and how much fun it was to play old Swedish games and watch old home movies. I miss my grandparents and their Swedish traditions. 



Yule Tomte

The only tradition I have really done over the years is to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, but I should be doing more. I'm half Swede and I'm the last generation in my Americanized family to know the old stories and the old traditions. I'm going to start teaching my kids about their dominant heritage, show them the old home movies of my Grandma, and I'm going to start making traditional Swedish food. I love to cook. Ever since I took the plunge, a few years back, to become a vegan, I've learned how to cook all over again. I sometimes veganize my favorite Midwestern comfort food, but I've never tackled the traditional Swedish food I grew up with. I'm going to start veganizing my favorite Swedish fare, and I'll be sharing them all with you, of course. 


Yes, this is one of those things I was talking about yesterday, although there was one thing I wanted to do last night that I didn't. It's something that Nature Girl would enjoy, and since she's at my parent's house, she would have missed it. I'll wait until the next one, then take NG along. Ha! We'll see how it goes. I hope you have a great weekend.

Vi ses snart!

H.A.

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