Lucky To Be Alive

May 19th marks the 100th anniversary of when Thomas Bergh, my great-grandfather, came to America.  Family legend tells that Thomas was originally supposed to come to the New World aboard the Titanic; however, a delay in his sailing from Norway to Liverpool caused him to miss the doomed liner.  Had he made it in time to sail, chances are very, very good that my family and I would not be here today.  To celebrate this idea, my mother and father invited family (not just those descended from Tom) to come to their house yesterday in a celebration of heritage, family and (most of all) simple existence.

As part of the theme, each partygoer was asked to bring a food item that celebrated some part of their family heritage.  Lacking any other culinary skills, I made my grandmother’s Norwegian cookies (krumkake and Norwegian Butter Cookies).

Katie, apparently ashamed of her heritage, broke the rules and made food from the heritage that she wishes she had.  She made delicious Indian Samosa Potatoes.  The spread was diverse, with food from Italy, Norway, Portugal, Germany and Ireland (beer).  While there was plenty of good food (mmmm..meatballs and lefse), there were also some low points, mostly on the German side (pickled herring and liverwurst).  However, the crowning achievement for World’s Worst Food (and my grandma would shudder to hear me say this) came from the Norwegian tradition: lutefisk.  For anyone who hasn’t tried it, lutefisk is whitefish that is soaked in lye, then left for several days to bloat in water.  It’s absolutely repellant.  My mother actually made up a batch, and forced everyone to try some.  It tasted like warm, pungent fish jello and it made the whole house stink.

Although the food was great, the company was the highlight of the day.  I love my family and it is always a pleasure to spend time with them.  I think it is also a great idea to take time every once in a while and just celebrate the fact that you’re alive.  Although I’d like to say I celebrate life everyday, I honestly take it for granted pretty often among the stresses and details of everyday life.  It was nice to take one whole day this to focus on nothing except how good it is to be alive.  I can spend the other 364 days this year celebrating the fact that I’m not eating lutefisk.

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