All my life…I have been infatuated with all things Celtic…music, knots, crosses, accents, stories, movies, names… I love Ireland and Scotland. I would be open to living in either country. I search for clues to my Scottish ancestry…even though it’s such a small percentage of who I am…and hold out hope for that illusive Irish forefather who may or may not be mine.
And all my life…I have been half Swedish. I have a grandfather, on my father’s side, who is Swedish…descended from Johansons who came a couple of generations ago to find a new life and a new name in this land across the sea.
I have a grandmother, on my mother’s side, who was born in Sweden, and left her family there when she decided to come to the US in the 40’s. She still has a delightful Swedish accent, even after all these years.
I think I have taken this Swedish heritage for granted. Perhaps because it’s been around me all my life. The dala horses on the shelf. The hand knitted sweaters that Mormor made for us kids…skills she was taught in school in Sweden when she was in the third grade. The rag rugs from her loom. Seems like we’ve always known that “Jag älskar dig” means “I love you”.
Lately though…spending more time with Mormor (mother’s mother) and reading my own mother’s genealogy research has opened my eyes and heart to all things Swedish. I’m not taking it for granted anymore. I am learning to appreciate…no, more than appreciate…I am learning to love this heritage of mine in all it’s Scandinavian glory. I want to grasp it. Learn it. Memorize it so that I can pass it along to the next generation…so that they can learn it, love it and pass it along.
Today was a beautiful day. Mormor and I had coffee with two other Swedish ladies this afternoon. The moment we stepped into M~’s door, it felt as if we were back in “the old country”. So many of her things were imported from Sweden when she moved here years ago. She has a loom, like my grandmother’s, and there are hand woven rugs and wall hangings that she has made all over her home. The beautiful tablecloth on the table was woven by this lovely Swedish woman.
There was a simplicity and a reality in her decor that I found refreshing and welcoming.
M~ is a master gardener, and everywhere I looked there was greenery, bringing the outdoors inside…breathing life into the room.
She knits beautifully, as seen by the gorgeous throw on the couch. There were candle holders and Christmas decorations scattered about…but placed so neatly and artistically. So soothingly.
The table was set, simply and perfectly. The coffee was wonderfully delicious, with a bit of cream. There were four different kinds of cookies and breads that M~ had made herself…saffron bread molded into spiral ‘s’ shapes, a kind of bread full of hazelnuts and raisins, marzipan cookies and another hazelnut cookie. All of it incredibly delectable.
They speak Swedish to each other, these three Swedes, but to be polite when I am there they speak English…and then some Swedish..and then some English again. I wish they would speak more Swedish. I love to hear them. I love to sit there and just be with these women ~ these three brave women who left their homeland for different reasons and found each other here in the hills of Arkansas. These women who get together to speak their native language so that they won’t forget it because of disuse. Who bake traditional goodies for each other so that they can sit and enjoy and remember who they are and where they were from.
I love to hear them compare stories of their growing up years and share news from home. They love the US. They are grateful to be here and would not go back to live…but they love Sweden…and blue and yellow…and a language and heritage that I am learning more and more to love.
I feel so privileged to sit with these women. Perhaps I don’t technically belong…I was born here. I don’t speak their language. I am several decades younger than they are. But these three women make me feel that I am one of them. They show me much. They let me laugh with them. They tell me their stories. They teach me where I come from, and more of who I am. I love these times with these Swedish women. I love them.
NOTE: All of the pictures I used are by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson…another thing I love about Sweden! I’m including a slideshow of just a few of his works.