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on the norwegian heritage note

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In my krumkake post I mentioned my half-Norwegian blood. My dad’s dad came over from Norway when he was a boy. My dad’s mom’s parents came over when they were young. So I do know that I am solidly Norwegian on that side. On my mom’s side is a collection of German and Bohemian genes. Bohemia, mind you, NOT Czechoslovakia. This is what we were told over and over when we were kids. Which was confusing as kids because Bohemia isn’t a country. So we would ask where it was and then were told it was in Czechoslovakia. At which point we would say, “so, we’re Czech?” and then the whole thing would begin anew with the Bohemian thing. As a result, I think it was easier to latch onto the Norwegian heritage thing. It was more concrete. There was the lutefisk. And the fjords. And Johann Olav Koss.

Anyway, for Christmas this year Jim and I made a board game for my parents called “Off to Norway” and the premise was that the entire Gundersen family (all 25 of us) had become bored with the U.S.A. and decided to move back to the old country. In the game, teams compete to be the first team to get all the Gundersens back to Vardo, Norway (where my Grandpa was born). To do this they have to answer questions, draw pictures, and have a bit of good luck. Not just any questions, of course, but questions from the vault of Gundersen Fact or Fiction questions (a search of our blog archives has alerted me to the fact that I have never written about GForF… must remedy this situation). And not just any pictures, but pictionary terms that have a slight Gundersen twist to them, like “Mosby” (our family cat that had a bit of a litter box problem) and “Winnebago” (our first motor home) and “Parkcrest” (the pool we went to as kids). I had the most fun coming up with the ‘luck of the draw” cards where I wrote funny things about how each of the Gundersens would handle a trans-atlantic move. For example:

  • Jim decides this move is the perfect time to attempt a north pole conquest. He straps a kayak to his backpack, dons his wooden cross country skis and tells the family he’ll meet them in Vardo. 4 days later the family has to rescue him as global warming has made the passage impossible. Go back 3 spaces.
  • Grandma, faced with the wide Atlantic Ocean, stands firm in her refusal to travel by plane or ship. The family must build a bridge for the motor home. Miss two turns for this construction.
  • Van decides to organize a “soldier boy” flashmob in the airport. It is a huge hit, but takes up some time. Miss a turn.
  • George (the youngest of three boys) finally stands up to Henry (his older brother who is a bit rough) and wallops him. Go ahead 2 spaces for the underdog.
Of course these are only really funny if you are a Gundersen, but you get the idea. Surely there are quirks about every member of any family that make everyone else laugh. Anyway, I spent many a night before Christmas laughing out loud while writing these down. If the players of the game get even an eighth of the amusement that I had making it then it will all be worth it. Actually, even if the game never gets played it will be worth it because it totally cracked me up. And gift-giving is all about the giver, we’ve established that before, no?
Jim designed the game board and we glued it down to an old “Go to the Head of the Class” game board. I love that I can tell Jim any random idea I have in my head and ask him to design it on the computer and he will say ‘ok’. And do it with a smile. And it ends up looking cool.

Now I need to go brush up on my Bohemian history. I will start by reading  Neighborhood by Norbert Blei. While eating kolache.

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3 responses »

  1. Craig Gundersen

    This is an amazing game that Courtney made. She is always doing neat stuff for our family like this – thank you!

    Reply
  2. This is utterly amazing! Your family is so lucky! And I feel lucky to be able to witness some of your awesome creativity in our new gift making sessions in months to come! Wow! My 80’s braided barrettes are going to seem a little ho-hum in comparison! 🙂 Love your ideas!

    Reply

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