The Invention of Lefse by Larry Woiwode: A Book Review
The Invention of Lefse is a peaceful, homely Christmas tale that spins a fable for the origin of Norwegian lefse bread while also drawing the reader back into a long-forgotten day of simple celebration and elaborate joy.
Thirteen-year-old Mette Iversdatter wakes early on Christmas eve to the wonder of frost on her new glass bedroom window and to the prospect of the day-long journey by sledge to her grandparents’ home. The spectre of famine hangs over their family celebration, for while their own wheat crop was adequate, Mette’s parents know that their extended family is in need, prompting a wrapped gift of fresh ground flour.
With only two bullets remaining, Dad mourns a missed shot at a huge deer which would have been their Christmas feast. Thus, disappointment is an unwelcome guest that arrives late in the day to Grampy’s eager greeting: “Did you bring us deer meat?” Family conversation wobbles through the evening, rather like Grampy’s uneven rocking chair, until he gathers Mette and the children for a story.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the Christmas spirit reigns in a scene reminiscent of An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. Gifts of sugar, flour, milk, and creamy butter transform blackened potatoes into a Christmas breakfast feast: lefse!
“Lefse is the gift for all,” cried Grampy, and he spoke truer than he knew. Made from what they had, the lesson of lefse foreshadows the fulfillment of Mette’s Christmas prayers, while reminding readers from more prosperous times that the spirit of Christmas lives in a heart that celebrates what God has already given.
Disclosure: This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my unbiased review.