Norway

Norway is totally a place I would live, but have never visited.

My great-great-grandfather immigrated to the USA from Kasfjord, Norway after being converted to Mormonism. I wish I could write the Norwegian government and apologize for his ill-haste, and request that they would reconsider the unkind decision he made so long ago on behalf of his descendants.

Wouldn’t that be nice, if we could apply for citizenship based on ancestry?

My dad served a mission in Norway. Mom served one in Germany. A few years later, after completing their missions, they met and married. A few years after that, they ended up posted to Germany through dad’s job, which is where I was born. I’ve never been to Norway, though, not even as a baby.

They moved back to the USA when I was less than a year old, and raised me on stories of Norway and Germany. They use to sit the whole family down for slideshows, and show us the parks and mountains and fjords.

At Christmas, dad would put Norwegian flags on the tree, and mom would tuck little German dolls amongst the branches. Even though we were mormon, we would still celebrate Advent, and one of us girls would dress up in a white nightgown with a wreath on our head to bring in the rice pudding with a hidden almond.

We had a collection of dirndls in varying sizes and one bunad, and I would wear one or the other regularly to church family history activities. I liked the bunad best, because it was a rich forest green with gold lacework embroidery, and the apron was made of finer material. The dirndl that fit me was a blue cotton with a red apron.

We had a trunkful of Norwegian sweaters made of itchy cream wool with red and green and black patterns on them. On nearly every surface in the house, my dad would place Henning trolls, and he’d move them every few weeks and tell us the trolls were traveling. My dad used to make us Norwegian waffles in his heart-shaped pan–which I later learned are also called Swedish or Danish waffles, and which I can only get at Ikea these days–and threaten to feed us lutefisk if we talked back.

I ached, in my heart. From the time I was a small child, I wanted to go there.

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As an adult, I have learned that my home is very like Norway. We have fjords, although we call them “sounds” and “inlets”. We have tall mountains, snow, and green meadows. The Native Americans of this region even have a way of preserving fish that is very like lutefisk.

It makes me feel a little better about never having been to Norway. As though, somehow, through the generations and miles, I managed to find a horizon that looks very like the one my ancestors would have one looked over.

All the same, I very much want to return to Norway. Uff da! Return! I’ve never been. I should like to go to Norway (this entire entry applies to Germany, as well–right down to the existence of similar topographical features between my ancestral home and my current home).

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