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Where she comes from

A few years ago, when I was still working outside our home, I attended an intense training on racism. It was very challenging to say the least, but I was open to what was being taught and I feel I became a better and more informed person because of it. However, there was one part of the training that angered me and still gets me fired up to this day...

At one point I was told that white people don't know their heritage. Hmmm... aside from that being an overgeneralized statement/mindset that I thought we were trying to avoid in the first place, I truly believe that for me, that simply is not true. No, we don't speak Swedish, French or German in our home. No, we don't eat schnitzel and spatzle or lutfisk every night for dinner (yummm... spatzle). But we do make an active attempt to incorporate aspects of the culture of our heritage into our lives as much as we can.

We tell stories about my Great-Grandpa Simon over and over again, and how he immigrated from Sweden to build a life here, literally from nothing. My grandma's German cooking was passed down to her from her mother and so on... One recipe in particular is a staple for us and has become a favorite of roommates, husbands and friends who have tried it. Even though my dad's side of the family is French, my mom and I have taken some classes and un petit peu of the language pops up here and there.

We have heirlooms that were brought over from the old country and are still held very precious and dear to all of us. While we definitely don't live the lives of our ancestors day to day (without a second kitchen, surstromming is simply not an option for me--pickled herring is about as close as I can get) and we are certainly products of American culture, I think it's safe to say we know where we came from and we love where we came from.

With all of that said, it is extremely important to me that Addie understand who came before her, what their lives were like and ways that we can include aspects of that life in ours. I mean, what two-year-old says, "Skoal!" when toasting milk at the dinner table? That's right--mine.

So now I'm sure you can understand the incredible amount of joy that it brings me to see that this book has become one of my daughter's absolute favorites.

On the surface, it might look like your average Winnie-the-Pooh book. And it is... but if you look a bit closer, you'll see that it is written in Swedish. The copyright is from 1981 and my guess is that it was bought for me in Sweden when my parents took me there about 28 years ago.

I also need to ask my mom who did the translation inside. Hand written in pencil above the original text is the word-for-word English. It is so fun to read because the translation isn't exactly conversational, but that's what makes it great. At first I was hesitant to let Addie handle it on her own because I didn't want the book to be damaged in any way. But after a few times of looking at it, she proved that she can treat it like the big girl she is, with care and tenderness. 

Even though her attachment to what she lovingly calls, "The Tigger Book" might seem a little silly to be excited over, to me it represents the beginning of her heritage education. And that is awesome. Never fear, my little Svenska babe! You will know where you came from and I promise, you'll love it. 

4 comments:

kelster said...

I love this Sara!

Dennis said...

Break out the Kallas cavier! Sacre Merde'!

Whirliegig said...

Such a wonderful post about your heritage and how you share it with your sweetie! I love that your mom wrote the translation - that's how I learned to read music (not that I have time to play any more!).

sara said...

Many, many thanks! I've been wanting to write something about this for a while now and then Addie found the book, so the topic just found its way into our lives. I love how that happens!