Riches of Inheritance

Riches of Inheritance

Oh the riches of inheritance! I know that many people get caught up in will, estates and tax planning, but the real gems of inheritance aren’t always subject to estate taxes.  As a matter of fact, one of our most prized inherited items is in the featured photo.  My hubby received my mother-in-law’s Suomi hockey jersey bearing the number 24 and her maiden name Ketola shortly after her passing. I’ve had the honor of wearing it to games and during parent kid games.  It gives me great pride and a feeling of connection when any of us wear it.

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As a child, my favorite Christmas memories were making cookies with my mom, brothers and grandma.  My mom always made molasses cookies with us, which is a recipe passed down from her dad’s family.  Now that I have kids of my own, we make these treasured molasses Christmas every year.  Truthfully, I think the kids prefer to bake them with Grandma Dawn, but I’ll gladly take second place to my mom.

Sometimes it’s not a treasured item or recipe that we inherit, sometime’s it’s pride in one’s heritage.  Both of my grandfather’s families immigrated to the United States from Norway.  Additionally, My grandfathers were  very proud of their Norwegian heritage.  This pride is definitely my brothers and I inherited from my mom, my dad and my grandparents.  Consequently, our trip as a family to  Norway where we saw our family farms and land was of monumental importance to all of us.  It was a true connection to our heritage, our ancestors and to each other as a family.

My mother-in-law was 100% Finnish whose parents immigrated to the US from Finland.  She was, as evidenced by the Suomi jersey, extremely proud of her Finnish heritage.  My boys are very proud of their Finnish and Norwegian heritage.  We’ve already been to Norway to see my family’s origin.  Our plan is to explore Finland to see where my MIL’s family came from.  Incidentally,  if my kid’s spend a year studying abroad in Norway or Finland, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We’ve been given a lot of inherited gifts.   It might be tokens and reminders of those who’ve passed, pride in our heritage, character traits, or even family recipes.  Lastly, inheritance isn’t all about money, but rather the intangible gifts passed down from generation to generation.

Tonight’s song is Celine Dion’s amazing rendition of “O Holy Night.”

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Exploring Borgund, Husum and Laerdal

Today was all about exploring Borgund, Husom and Laerdal, which is where my dad’s family emigrated from in the 19th century. We started our day off with some scrambled eggs and bacon in the cabin, which were absolutely delicious. The cost of food in Norway is outrageously expensive, so we’re trying to eat in whenever possible. Food at the restaurant is taxed at 25% whereas food purchased in the grocery store is 12%, which makes for a big difference in cost.

After our protein filled breakfast, we set out to meet my parents and brothers’ families at the Borgund Stave Church. The drive, like most in Norway, was spectacular. The landscape here is absolutely amazing and awe inspiring. Our timing was spot on and shortly after we pulled into the museum parking lot in Borgund, my brothers’ cars followed.

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There is a small musuem at the site with artifacts related to the staves churches of Norway and also relics from the Viking Era that had been excavated at nearby sites. As a history nerd, I was in complete heaven. Once we made our way through the museum, we headed to the church.

What is nice about this site is that the staff monitors how many people are in the church and prevents the church from being overcrowded. This ensures you have ample time and space to view the church and explore the grounds without being overrun by other tourists. Their was a large group in the church when we arrived, so we started to hike the Sverrestigen, part of the Kongevegan (King’s Road.) My grandma, at 87 years old, killed the hike. I had Jacob escort her up the hill as the the terrain, comprised of grass, mud, rocks and tree roots, was a bit slipper and I didn’t want her to fall. If you are wondering what the benefits of walking 3-5 miles daily are, here it is. My Grandma T able to hike the Norwegian hillsides at 87 without so much as breaking a sweat.

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The stave church was amazing. It is very dark inside and modestly decorated with much of the regalia of it’s Catholic era long gone. The details and intricacy of the woodwork and carvings are beyond compare. Interestingly, this church, like the stave church in Undredal, combines christian symbolism with pagan symbolism. This simply does not exist in churches outside of Norway. There were even Rune letters carved into the door perhaps by a parishioner who had become bored during the service.

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After exploring the church, we explored the church and cemetery grounds it was surreal knowing that these were the very soil our ancestors had walked before emigrating to the Untied States. Jacob and I completed the entirety of the Vindhellavegen trail from Borgund to Husom.  Meanwhile Luke and the other two waited for us at a picnic table. The Vindhellavegen drops you right into Husum (Husom) where our family had its farm.  The Husom Store and hotel are found here as well.  We hiked back from Husum to Borgund on the Vidhellavegen taking a steeper, rockier short cut of a climb back to the church.

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I’m sure our legs will hurt tomorrow, but the view and experience were well worth the pain. Post hike we headed to the Husum farm and then on to Laerdal. I loved seeing my dad on this part of the trip. You could see that he really enjoyed seeing where his family originated. Another humbling, wonderful day in glorious Norway.

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Cousins

Cousins Experiencing Norway Together

One of the best parts of this trip thus far is the time our boys are getting to spend with their cousins X, P and Kai. Since we live in Florida and X & P live in Minnesota and Kai in Seattle, the kids don’t get to see each other nearly as much as they would like to. This is a trip that they’ll savor because of the good times they shared with their cousins.

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Tracing Our Roots

Growing up in Minnesota, my family was very proud of its Norwegian heritage.  Like many Minnesotans, our families had immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century from Scandinavia.   While factions of both my mom and dad’s family emigrated from Norway during this period, my mother-in-law’s family emigrated from Finland.  It has always been a dream of ours to trace our roots and understand where our family came from and why they emigrated.

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After many years of dreaming, it will finally become a reality.  This summer we will embark on an epic trip to explore our Norwegian heritage and trace our roots in Norway.  Not only are my kids going, but my mom, dad, grandma and my brothers and their families are going.  Together we will be able to meet our family that still lives in Norway and explore the seaside towns, the countryside and farmland where they once lived.

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We look forward to connecting with our heritage and the rich history of Norway while disconnecting from everyday life.  Kayaking on the beautiful fjords where one can see seals instead of alligators.  The beautiful mountains and mountain valleys will be a site for sore eyes since we barely have what can be called a hill here in Florida.

In the coming years, there will be more trips to plan.  With family having immigrated to the US from Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, we have plenty of trips to make in order to truly connect with our heritage.   Our heritage is an important part of our identity, but more than that the experience of exploring the world with my boys is priceless.  Nothing beats living a life full of wanderlust.

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