My parents were very proud of their Norwegian background. They both spoke fluent Norwegian, especially when they didn't want us kids to know what they were saying. Although I picked up many words and phrases, in retrospect I wish I had learned more of the language when I was younger.
I had the opportunity to visit Norway once and loved the country. I met many of the relatives who still live there. My mother's side of the family lives in the general area of Oslo, which is also the capital of Norway. My dad's side came from an area further north near Trondheim.
My grandfather grew up in a small town called Sumstad. I was able to visit the old farm that has been in my family for many years. When my grandfather came to America, he took the name of his town as his last name. I heard that this was quite common. He came through Ellis Island and settled in Brooklyn, New York where he met my grandmother. She had also come to the US and settled in Brooklyn. They met in a Norwegian church.
Growing up, we often ate many of the traditional Norwegian foods. I still enjoy making Norwegian waffles which are very sweet and not the typical American waffles. Yulekake is a Christmas cake and of course, we loved Norwegian meatballs, which are different from Swedish. Whenever I visit my aunt in California, she makes many of my favorite Norwegian foods that I enjoyed while growing up.
My husband is often fascinated by my Viking past, especially since he's a mix of Italian, Greek, Russian and a few others. But he's grown to enjoy many of the foods and customs.
I guess I've thought about my Norwegian heritage recently because I met a "new friend" on Twitter who lives in Tromso, Norway. That is very far north. She has a blog called My Little Norway and writes about her life and family. She has taken some beautiful photographs that are displayed on her blog. I hope you'll take some time to visit her site.
While I'm so grateful to live in the United States, I also choose to honor where I came from. I am thankful that my parents and grandparents shared the stories and many of the customs with me and my siblings. Takk tusen (Thanks so much) Mom and Dad!