If you are familiar with the Hope Chest story, you will remember that a few years back I came across an old chest full of interesting artifacts, which told the remarkable story of one accomplished Danish woman’s life. Since then, I have learned so much more about Emma Thorsen, but even more so, I have learned a great deal about my own heritage and the interconnectedness that we all share through our life’s story.


Hope Chest

A young girl inspects her hope chest in Danish artist Poul Friis Nybo’s painting, c. 1900


Over these past three years, I have come to discover so much more about how historytradition, and culture inspired Emma’s life and her legacy, as well as, how impactful she has been in discovering my own heritage. It has brought me closer to my grandmother, Mormor, and allowed her to share so much of our Danish-American heritage with me. I will be forever grateful for the time spent with her at The Danish Home, meeting friends and neighbors, many of whom share our Scandinavian background and many who do not. I cherish them all. I can honestly say that finding that old chest has led me on adventures and experiences I never thought possible. Being a part of this journey has truly been amazing.



Sewing with Grandmother by Danish painter Wenzel Ulrik Tornoe.


Reminded of this sentiment often, a recent event has further proven this thought.  First off, I think we are all curious about our ancestors. If you are like me, you often ponder your heritage, and where long-lost relatives might reside in the world. Do they hold the key to unlock more about your family? Sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe aim to solve these mysteries, but the phenomenal event that materialized with me actually occurred completely out-of-the-blue.


After spending years researching the Thorsen family, I was contacted recently by Emma and Jens’ great-great grandson! I am completely overjoyed and ecstatic about this development, and I am so excited to learn so much more about this new piece of the puzzle. As I do I will definitely be sharing, so please stay tuned to be a part of this remarkable story!



Who could your long, lost relatives be? (Painting of King Christian IX and family, which hangs at the Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark)


I often think about Thorsen family, their story and their connection to The Danish Home of Chicago. In learning more about them I have come to meet so many wonderful people who have graciously shared their stories (and recipes!) with me so that I can better understand my culture. After all, our stories, memories and family traditions are the ingredients that make up this wonderful life!





No matter our background, language or beliefs, the common thread connecting us all are the stories we create with one another. When you think about your most cherished memories, chances are they involve food, friends, family and a whole heap of thankfulness. This Thanksgiving while we’re piling our plates high, surrounded by tradition, laughter and love, The Danish Home of Chicago invites you to share your love of heritage and family spirit by entering the Spirit of 125 sweepstakes. Send your Scandinavian recipes, stories, photos, memories, and family traditions and they will be posted to inspire all!. Top winners will be published on the Danish Home website and will be eligible for prizes!



Tune in next week as I share more Thanksgiving traditions and loads of recipes to make your turkey day run as smooth as the gravy you use to dress that bird with!