Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Atrocities of being ScandiHOOvian

I have a deep, dark secret that I need to share with my Blogging readers.

(Whispers behind hand) I'm a half-breed!! Yes, I am of mixed blood, not that that makes me either a better or a worse person than any of you. I've posted pictures of myself on previous entries, and even though my pictures are of someone who is tall and blond (Ole says I'm platinum, (gray) makes me more valuable, ya know) with blue eyes, the truth be known - I'm a half-breed. And it HAS affected me greatly throughout my childhood and on into my adult life. My mother was Swedish and my father was Norwegian - a mixture that, back in their day, wasn't supposed to mix well, so you can imagine what it's done to my psyche.

I've made reference previously to my ScandiHOOvian-Lutheran upbringing, and if any of you are familiar with the old-time ScandiHOOvians, you know how stoic they are. Showing any kind of emotion is against the rules, regardless of what the issue. A good example would be the day that Ole and I announced that there would be a baby Ole or Lena in about nine months. My father was sitting at the kitchen table with a grin from ear to ear, but the first words out of his mouth were to Ole, "Well, when shall we go fishing, then? There's a big one waiting to be caught." That's when I knew he was excited about having another grandchild.

Another unspoken rule was never to brag about yourself or any of your accomplishments. That would draw attention and that was certainly something that you didn't want. Fading into the background was a much more positive attribute. ScandiHOOvians believed there was only one right way to live - their way. From their vantage point problems were either black or white and all solutions were cut and dried. There were no such words as "feeling blue" or "down" in their vocabulary - but the words "buck up", "pull up your boot straps," etc., were heard frequently.

Speaking of black and white, color was another thing that was almost non-existant. Show me a ScandiHoovian woman who wears bright dresses and red fingernail polish and she sure must have some Italian or Spanish in her blood somewhere. ScandiHOOvian women bought red nail polish for one reason - they used it to mark the bottoms of their dishes and pans that they brought to funerals and other doings. It held up better than masking tape. To this day IF I put polish on my fingernails, it's always a pale color, most usually clear or natural. And I so well remember my mother and Big Sister, marking their bowls and pans with red nail polish.

The ScandiHOOvian preference for white can be seen in their food choices also. Among the favorites are lutefisk, lefse, fish balls, potatoes, onions, cabbage, flatbread, buttermilk, fattigmand, glorified rice, rommegrot, a krumkaka here and there. And as far as spices go, salt was a staple and pepper was getting quite daring. You were really brave if you used ketchup! Foods from other ethnicities were adapted and toned down. If you wanted to add color and flare, you just added a can of peas. Homemade vegetable soup was brightened with carrots, but topped with dumplings. Marshmallows were put over squash and corn not only creamed but covered with crackers. How about chocolate cake covered with white boiled frosting, and the staple of all ScandiHOOvian gatherings, red jello toned down with a white banana floating on top.

Beige isn't white, but it was the closest thing to colorless that a ScandiHOOvian woman could find. Historically, the lady of the house never went in for show. She would put on a beige dress, paint her nails with clear polish, splash on a dab (not too much now) of Evening in Paris and that would be about as much flash as you could expect to see. She would anxiously anticipate Memorial Day so she could once again bring out her white shoes.

Additionally, religion somehow got mixed up with trying to keep things pure and white. None of the Big Shots in the church knew that the uproar caused by the introduction of the NEW RED hymnals had nothing to do with the music or liturgy at all. Who would imagine that the Lutheran Church would ever have agreed to have RED hymnals in the back of the pew racks?

And then there's the story about when Lars Olson died. His wife decided to have an autopsy done, and when the doctors got to the brain they had a terrible time to determine what was in it. When they finally got it open they found 1) white matter 2) red matter and 3) black matter. They couldn't locate any gray matter. As a matter of fact the bulk of the brain was pretty much all black and white.
The biggest area was the black matter. It was determined that this area was made up of personal problems, but was buried so deeply that it was hard to explore. Everything was all blackened out with the exception of a few words that surfaced - "Keep it to yourself, it's not that bad. No one should know if you're unhappy."

Next came the white matter, which was divided into the sections of farming, fishing, passion and communication. It shouldn't surprise you that the passion and communication areas were by far the smallest.

Then the red matter - the doctors weren't sure if that came from all the jello the man ate at doings or the pent up anger against the new red hymnals that were introduced in the late 50s.

So now you know all about the inner conflict that I deal with on a day to day basis and why it's there. And then adding Ole to the recipe, who is a Finlander, makes life more interesting - but that's okay. I'll just keep it all to myself. It's just not that bad. I'll just buck up and pull up my boot straps.

Love, Lena


words-4-less said...

Man, can I relate to what you are saying...and I'm only a quarter Norwegian.

Anonymous said...

Uffda Lena, you so speak the truth there don't you know! My daughter LOVES red... Must be my
I-talian genes. :) or jeans.

That so explains my hubby. :)

Thanks for voting for my fur baby!

Meggie Lou said...

Consider me educated. I'll need to have a long conversation with my cousin, Barbara, who lives "somewhere" in Minnesota. No doubt she is of "mixed breed" considering that her daddy (my uncle) is from Arkansas and was a Southern Baptist. Oh my!