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Sisters musings on all things Norwegian.

Sisters' Scandinavian Saga: A Quirky Reflection on Norwegian Heritage

I asked my sisters to reflect on our Norwegian heritage by answering three questions each, and I'll chime in with my responses too. True to form, we couldn't quite stick to the script, but hey, that's the joy of sibling banter.

First question: Other than the sentimental moments like visiting the family farm and bonding over shared memories, what's one standout experience you had in Norway?

Teresa: Flor & Fjaer stole my heart! The scenery was breathtaking, and the meal was divine! I found it hilarious how we seamlessly blended in as locals everywhere we went. And those cozy walks past adorable homes and charming shops? Pure bliss, especially when topped off with a dose of Godt Brød! (A wonderful chain serving coffee, pastries, sandwiches, etc.)

Pam: Flor & Fjær was indeed magical, but meeting Susan Fosse in Bergen was an unexpected delight. Strolling through Stavanger and snapping shots of those quaint white cottages? Picture-perfect memories right there. Pun intended.

Brenda: Exploring the historic districts of Stavanger and Bergen was a treat—the vibrant culture preserved in those ancient buildings was awe-inspiring. And let's not forget the Norwegian knitwear—I'm a sucker for a good knitting project!

Lavonne: While my sisters covered the highlights perfectly, I'll give a shoutout to the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. The open-air exhibits and that stunning stave church were simply enchanting. Every stroll through Norway, regardless of the city, offered a special glimpse into Norwegian life.

Second question: Growing up, how aware were you of Norwegian influences in our lives, and what's one standout memory?

Teresa: Our Norwegian pride was on full display from a young age and community spirit was strong in our hometown of Radcliffe, Iowa. I vividly recall proudly declaring my heritage to anyone who'd listen, much to the bewilderment of my classmates. "I'm Norwegian!" I'd proclaim with gusto to those classmates who didn’t understand when I asked what nationality they were.

Pam: It's like Radcliffe was a little slice of Norway itself! The tight-knit community we grew up in instilled a strong sense of kinship in all of us. And those epic family gatherings were pure magic.

Brenda: Norwegian traditions infused every aspect of our lives, especially during holidays. From the thirteen kumla Christmas to Grandpa Bjelland's grocery store visits with Knut, our heritage was woven into the fabric of our existence.  Norwegian language, foods and gifts were always present.

Lavonne: Christmas was a symphony of Norwegian customs—Grandpa's readings in Norwegian, the tantalizing aromas of traditional dishes, and the palpable sense of familial pride. And, as my sisters have said, our hometown where Norwegian roots ran deep in every corner.

Third question: What's one cherished memento from Norway, whether from childhood or received recently?

Teresa: Mom's display cabinet had many treasures including a precious pewter Viking ship and her jewelry box held dainty Norwegian necklaces we were allowed to wear for special holidays.  I still have my necklace and treasure it to this day.

Pam: Those little traditional dolls and miniature chairs were childhood treasures, along with the rosemaled items from Grandma Lillian. And the solje—I appreciate having it even though it is seldom worn.  It’s a nod to our heritage nonetheless!

Brenda: From childhood sweaters to handmade gems and a traditional doll to jewelry, each piece holds a bit of Norway close to my heart.  My more recent purchase of hiking pants are a practical reminder of Norwegian style and functionality.

Lavonne: Top of the list?  The bunad that Gram Bjelland made for me complete with its pint-sized solje—a symbol of heritage bestowed upon me at the tender age of four. And the collection grows—from vintage linens to sweaters to heirlooms scavenged from the family farm.  Each item is cherished.


One thing we all agree on is that Norway feels like home.  From our first step onto the family farm, it felt as if we belonged there.  We could feel our ancestors’ presence.  And when we left, we left our hearts until next time.

So, there you have it—our mishmash of memories and musings on all things Norwegian. Who needs rules when you've got sisters like mine?


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