TITLE: THE INVENTION OF LEFSE
AUTHOR: LARRY WOIWODE
When you think of Christmas, what do you think of first? One of the first things I think of is THE Christmas story. There is no question. (cf. Luke 2)
Our holiday traditions have to do with
- The native country of one or more of our parents.
- We think of getting together with family,
- The giving and receiving of gifts…with or without Santa’s involvement.
- Eating certain food
- Taking part in other traditional events including favorite music, plays or parties.
- For many, there are church activities that play a large role in this season as well.
In our case, on my husband’s side of the family, his mother’s background was Norwegian (Stensby). Christmas for him included a few of the Norwegian foods but mostly, we adopted the opening of gifts on Christmas Eve (Norwegian) leaving only stockings and one major gift for Christmas morning.
I must admit, there was a method to our madness. We all slept better on Christmas Eve. When the children woke up on Christmas morning, they had their gifts to play with from the night before and all of us enjoyed the day MUCH more because we weren’t worn out!
One of my daughters married a man who has a strong Norwegian flavor to their Christmas. They have a lot of Norwegian food. Thus, my interest in this book. (Pardon the history lesson and personal comments. We finally got to WHY I read this book!)
THE ACTUAL BOOK REVIEW!
This is a 63 page book written in large letters so it could be read by an older elementary aged child. In the process, they would be introduced to the names of cities in Norway, names of items you would need to look up to learn what they look like and a few cultural items that would be new to an American child. Of course, with the internet, that would take very little time!
The setting of this book is in the early 1900’s, when there was a famine in Norway. It is seen through the eyes of Mette Iversdatter, the 13 year old firstborn daughter of three girls in her family. For Christmas, they travel to the home of her mother’s family, the Andresons in Bo. The past year has been a very bad year for all with very little food or money.
This is where they “invent” Lefse. (Based on the author’s research into how it was developed.) This is not a flowery book about the delights of Christmas! The times weren’t that way. They were stark. Life was very difficult. The book reflects that.
BENEFITS TO YOUR FAMILY
Personally, I think it would be a great family read during the Christmas season to give children insight into what hard times really are! Yes, we are facing more difficult times ourselves than in recent years, but most of us still have food. That is all the more reason to teach our children about people from the past as well as those in other cultures who have had it harder than we do…and understood gratefulness.
Meanwhile, you will all be enriched by learning a bit more about people from another culture and why they were motivated to leave and come to this country. This is definitely more than a book on food! It will open up some interesting discussions on a variety of life topics that will give you the opportunity to pass on some of your values to your children…with clarity.
***I did receive this book free from Crossway to review. However, the opinions expressed are mine…as usual…served bluntly!