Resilience in YOUR Family: The Family Ties That Bind Us

I am Norwegian. Technically I am 1/4 Norwegian but that is close enough, in Grandpa’s book at least, to consider myself Norwegian. He even felt so strongly about our Norwegianness that he made sure his four grandchildren made it to Norway to meet the family still there, visit the ancestral farm, and connect to our heritage.

An article in the New York Times was brought to my attention a few years ago. It instantly resonated with my entire childhood. I quickly emailed it to my grandfather with a little note thanking him for teaching me about my family. He was very sick at the time, but my aunt let me know she printed the article out and read it to him. He passed away maybe a year after that and even though I believe families are eternal and death is just a passage to another life, my heart was broken.

But I am Norwegian, and being such I can bear hard burdens and move on. We are pretty tough people. We have to be.

(Have you clicked on the link above and read the article yet? Go back and read it! You will not regret it.)

My children, likewise, know that they are also Norwegian. Technically they are only 1/8 Norwegian, but in my book that is enough. So naturally we celebrate Norway when we can and make our heritage part of our family traditions. One tradition we have is eating a Norwegian dinner on Christmas Eve. We have cauliflower soup, rodkal, and fish (as a child my little family did the exact same thing!) And on May 17th we celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day with krumkake and strawberry ice cream.

My great-grandmother’s krumkake iron hard at work. I didn’t even set off the smoke alarm this time!DSC03861DSC03864DSC03867

Enjoying the fruits of my laborDSC03895

What we are really celebrating – besides Norway’s fine constitution, of course!Berwicks_Norwegians-5Berwicks_Norwegians-2

This is our family farmhouse and barn – Ansok, located just across the fjord from Stranda.Ansok Norway 2002

And this one is the cute hamlet/mini-farmhouse a hike up the mountain from the main house – Hammaren. I took these photos in 1999Hammaren Norway 2002

This is my grandpa and part of our family narrative: The Little Boat That Sailed Through Time (That little boat, as of 2002 – oh my goodness that was 14 years ago! – was still there. I went to make sure.) Thankfully I have stories and stories from my grandfather, and audio CDs of my great grandmother who grew up on Ansok telling even more stories. I am so fortunate to have such priceless treasures. Treasures, of course, meant to be shared with my children.

In all the teaching and learning that goes on in your family, some things are more important than others. And few things are most important of all. A family narrative (or genealogy, family history, whatever you want to call it) is one of those few, very most important things we can teach our children. (Did you read the NYT article yet? Here is another link.) Please do not forget it.

And Bonus Points are awarded to those who can slip in some cookies and ice cream!