The dog ate my lefse

Photo: Judith Gabrriel Vinje Shame or satiety? This bad doggie has a belly full of Christmas spirit in the form of lefse.

Photo: Judith Gabrriel Vinje
Shame or satiety? This bad doggie has a belly full of Christmas spirit in the form of lefse.

Judith Gabriel Vinje
Los Angeles

I had just returned home from some last-minute Christmas shopping when I noticed some startling pieces of debris on my lawn.

Having three dogs—a 100-pound white Husky, a medium-sized white Spitz, and our new puppy, eight-month-old Rocky—I was fairly accustomed to occasionally seeing the flotsam and jetsam of daily life strewn over my lawn.

Most of the time, it is harmless. Nothing more than having to stoop over and pick up the shreds of something they dragged out of the recycle bin. Empty water bottles. Tinfoil wrappers. A mess, but just trash. Nothing to cry about.

But lefse? That was something different.

For three quarters of a century, nothing has been more important to me at Christmas time than lefse. For decades, my Norwegian sainted grandmother made it, mailing it across the country to her nine children and their families.

When she passed, my mother and I learned to make it—passable, but nowhere near the heavenly soft, fragrant moon rounds MorMor made.

And when I was left alone to make lefse, life took on a new challenge, one that I was not always up to. Some years I made lefse with instant mashed potatoes (something my Norwegian buddies told me was terrible to do). Other years I started from scratch, with varying results, from limp flying saucers to record disk type rounds.

Then I discovered mail-order lefse. Yes, there are a few of them in the country, but the one I found happens to be the official lefse-maker for Norsk Høstfest.

Granrud’s Lefse Shack is located in Opheim, Montana, a town where 33% of the total population of 280 is Norwegian. To make the lefse, 10 people work together, peeling and cooking, mixing, stuffing, rolling, frying, and packaging. They can produce almost 600 packages a day. And it is really quality lefse, soft, fragrant, and tasty with a perfect scattering of the light brown spots that make it so distinctive.

I ordered mine, and eagerly awaited the promised delivery of my Christmas lefse.

And then yesterday, the shipment arrived.

It came all right. Returning home from shopping, I was aghast to see what was strewn over my yard. The box from Montana lay tattered in shreds on the lawn. Pieces of cellophane packaging were strewn about. One pack contained a few tattered pieces of lefse. The Husky was lying down with a more than satiated expression on her face. The Spitz wagged his tail nervously, and the puppy just kept snatching up pieces of ripped cellophane.

At first I was in shock, disbelief. This couldn’t be happening! The thought of Christmas Eve dinner without lefse sent a chill down my spine.

It turned out that I was able to re-order my lefse, although it will cost an arm and a leg to have it delivered in time for Christmas Eve dinner.

But it is something I must do. The kids, the grandchildren, and their mates all want good, tasty, soft, fragrant, pliable lefse. Something I just can’t seem to produce. It wouldn’t be Christmas without lefse.

I phoned in a complaint to the parcel delivery service. The nice girl on the phone apologized profusely, but she was just an employee handling phone calls from irate customers. I didn’t want to become irate over such beloved food, so I just calmly told her my story. She seemed to understand, and told me that the lefse company should ask for a refund.

She agreed the box shouldn’t have been dropped over the fence, especially with three very noisy dogs barking loudly, as they would for any who came near.

So now I will stand guard at the gate on the day the new package is set to arrive. And it will be worth it. Christmas without lefse is unthinkable.

Don’t tell me this is what I get for not making my own. It is just as Norwegian to know that there is a small company in the plains that is thriving because so many of us still crave our national mainstay. Long live lefse! And keep the dogs away.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 25, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.