Lucia Day: Of cats and saints

For the first time since this little blog began I skipped St. Lucia Day. No scent of citrus and saffron wafted from our oven throughout the house. No sweet buns shaped like S’s found their way to our breakfast table. Not a single home-made, IKEA-bagged, or bakery-baked Lussebulle or Lussekatt eaten on this most awesome of holidays. Continue Reading

Lefse day!

We began as a hodgepodge of lefse-loving Minnesotas with Lutheran-church-basement-ladies-envy who wanted to learn the art of potato flatbread. Through the years we’ve each developed an important role in the day, contributing our skills to the balling, rolling, lifting, and griddling. Those skills have progressed and we are now Masters. This is our 7th year together, and we are an awesome, dangerous, motley crew of self-taught lefse makers. Continue Reading

Would Jesus play the tuba?

If Jesus marched in the band, would he be cool with the tubas? Would he get so wild and excited the oompahs coming out of that deep brass section that he’d agree to direct an entire ensemble of tubas knocking out enormous noise and joyful Christmas music in a chapel? Why, yes. Yes, I believe Jesus would. Continue Reading

Cookies and herrings and eggs, oh my

Coming off a Thanksgiving-family-high has me thinking about the gifts we receive from relatives, especially heritage, traditions, and language. In my family, Grandpa Johnson taught us girls a secret language that he called, “Counting in Swedish” He’d hold up his index finger and say, “Timmyteetta,” hold up his middle finger, “Lyckasleet,” and so on. We sisters mimicked him and memorized the sacred family counting words. We recited them for each other, for friends, and best of all, for Grandpa Johnson. One of my nieces even stood on stage before thousands of onlookers and recited the ditty at a talent show when she was three-years-old. Continue Reading

Gratitude, Nordic style

Tuesday morning I attended the 30th Annual Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast. The event is sponsored by the Sons of Norway and is a charitable venture (donations were collected for Second Harvest Heartland and the Minnesota Military Family Foundation) loaded with local celebrities, politicians, and 963 guests. I sat at a table in the back dubbed The Johnson Table. Of ten at our table, seven of us were Johnsons. The event was, as 2014 Event Chair Bruce Karstadt observed, “Fika on steroids.” (Fika is a Swedish tradition meaning to take a break, most often with coffee, with colleagues, friends, or family. It is both a verb and a noun.) Continue Reading