I absolutely love traveling to new places. I love meeting new people, eating new foods, seeing new sights, listening to new languages, and navigating new cultures. My most recent trip took my family and me to Denmark and Sweden. The purpose of the trip was to discover some family history on my mother’s side. My mother (who passed away a few years ago) loved Sweden and everything Swedish. Her mother was Swedish and so she had traveled to Sweden as a young girl, and then worked there for three years after college. We have all sorts of Swedish traditions, most of them occurring around Christmas. Our Christmas Eve celebrations, for example, have always been filled with herring, Swedish Meatballs, red cabbage, and, of course, beer and aquavit (called snaps in Sweden) and drinking songs.
My mother had two sisters, both of whom had a strong attachment to their Swedish roots. All three sisters are now gone. So it was during a sort of random conversation about a year ago with one of my cousins that we said, “Why is it that we never went to Sweden with our mothers?” I guess it was because we were attending college and graduate school, getting our careers off the ground, raising kids (and sending them to college – no money for traveling during those years), and honestly, I don’t think any of us really believed that our moms would ever pass on. I think we all believed that there was still time to make this trip with our mothers. The conversation continued. “So why don’t we go now? Why don’t we get all of the cousins and their families together and take a trip to Sweden? We could go to all the places our grandmother lived, places our moms visited, and even meet our Swedish relatives!” And so we made a plan to try to pull this off. We really didn’t think it would happen, but we decided at least the two of us and our families would try to make a go of it. Believe it or not, we did it! Almost all of our cousins and families traveled to Sweden in early July (13 people in all)!
The trip was beyond incredible. We visited the town where my grandmother was born, the city where she grew up, the places our moms had visited, and the island in Stockholm where my mother lived when she worked in Sweden. We met many of our Swedish relatives (second cousins, their husbands, children, children’s husbands and partners, and even their grandchildren) and we enjoyed them all! My daughters met the next generation, and they are now Facebook and Instagram friends, and are talking about visiting each other in the future. We had family get togethers, and spent some time traveling with our own families. On one hand I’m so sorry we didn’t do this trip with our moms, but on the other hand, I’m so proud that we pulled this off and had such a great experience. As one of my second grade students once said, “There is no such thing as too much family.” After this vacation, I completely agree!