This weekend, my sister graduated from dental school. Not just any dental school, but THE best dental school in the nation. I’ve watched in wonder and amazement as she has dedicated every ounce of her being to this endeavor, forgoing sleep to study day and night and become the best possible dentist she can be. She has gone on mission trips to Guatemala, organized local oral cancer benefits, and volunteered in many other dental education opportunities to help keep the community happy and healthy – one tooth and one smile at a time. She has worked so hard for 4 loooooong years, and we are all so proud of her. She is now Dr. Jenn. WOW!
Graduation weekend – yes weekend – was a two day event. It began with a mass and hooding ceremony at the church, followed by a reception at the dental school. The next day was a school wide commencement ceremony, followed by a luncheon at a fancy schmancy hotel. All of the rituals and formalities were really cool and fun to learn about.
After dental school, my sister is continuing on at the Children’s Hospital to do a pediatric oral surgery residency. True to form (and as a teacher, through and through), I put together a pediatric dentistry ‘survival guide’ as her graduation gift. She now has books about oral hygiene, a puppet and tooth brush for demonstrations, a squirt gun to shoot the ‘enemy’ (cavities, pain), temporary tattoos and bandaids, a squishy toy to deflect pain, a personal hand mirror (because watching can be cool, right?), children’s sized schnazzy sunglasses, coloring books and crayons, another stuffed friend for comfort, and various other fun distractions and prizes.
After this long weekend of celebrating, I am truly pooped. A few of my other friends graduated this weekend, too (YEAH Maureen and Lynda!) so I am off to toast them now. I will leave you with these pictures as a window into our fun, family-filled weekend of celebrating my sister’s amazing accomplishments. Here’s to so many more!
(clockwise from the top: Lingonberry sauce, candied apples, Lefse,
carrots, meatballs, Lutefisk, and some potatoes in the center)
This weekend, I attended our annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Church of Norway. My extended family – usually about 20 people – has made this a family tradition of about 10 years. We are Norwegian (I’m 3rd generation), and it doesn’t get more Norwegian than Lutefisk!
If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, lemme explain. Lutefisk is dried cod that is soaked in a vat of lye, skinned, boned, boiled, and served with melted butter or cream sauce. Aren’t you salivating already? It is stinky, gelatinous, clear, jiggly, and entirely unappetizing – yet we eat it by the pound! Oh those silly Norwegians. I go for the meatballs.
My sister and I have been attending Lutefisk dinners for as long as I can remember – back when we used to host them at our own church. Can you tell we are Norwegian? Uff da!
And your prize for ingesting a spoonful (minimum) of Lutefisk is a tray of delicious Norwegian delicacies. Pictured here are my favorite desserts. Clockwise from the top: Fruit Soup, Krumkake, and Sandbakkel. Also served are Fattigman and Rosettes.
Krumkake are a particularly coveted treat in my family. If you’ve ever made them, you know what a pain in the rear they can be – so fragile and temperamental. They are delicate cookies that are delicious served as is, or filled with whipping cream. My grandma and my mother would make dozens of them, and they would disappear if you blinked.
Every year we hear about Great Grandma Marie – first generation immigrant from Norway – who would make Krumkake for weeks leading up to Christmas. She would store them in a tin in the back bedroom, which was kept near freezing temperatures, so they would last. Woe to the misguided soul who was caught snitching before Christmas!
As they say at the Lutefisk dinner, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault. Seriously, it’s just like going to Grandma’s house. The dishes keep getting passed and passed until you’re about ready to burst. It’s such a good time, seeing all of my family seated together at the same table, sharing stories, and eating food that makes you feel like you’re ‘home.’ I look forward to it every year.