This meant we had to do more than have an ethnic heritage; we needed to honor our ethnic heritage.
I asked my daughters (then 10 and 11 years old) to choose the country whose traditions we would include in our upcoming Christmas celebration. Would it be Germany, Sweden or England? They decided on Sweden.
We checked books out from the public library (did I mention this was in the 80s?) and read about Sweden's holiday traditions.
On December 13th the girls and I drove to Chicago where we watched the crowning of a young St Lucia.
We explored the Swedish American museum in Andersonville, bought pastries at Nelson's Bakery, chose a few special straw ornaments at the Swedish Museum Gift Shop, and had dinner at a tiny restaurant called Svea's.
During dinner, Svea's owner played the guitar, serenading his patrons. Several diners added their voices to the Swedish Christmas music he played. The whole day was magical.
As part of our Christmas celebration a couple weeks later, my daughters served their grandmother and aunts Lussekatter buns while dressed in traditional St Lucia Day attire.
The following year, I asked which country (Germany or England) we should explore during the next holiday. Shocked that I would ask such a question (!), the girls said Sweden would be our focus. Always.
Music at Svea happened only once since that first Swedish Christmas 25 years ago. But the melody will play in my heart forever.