Mia – March 7, 2017
We have a very special family tradition: one or two women from every generation follows in the dainty, lace-up boots of my great-great-great grandmother, Christina Hansen, and takes an active role in The Danish Home of Chicago.
Mormor Christina was one of 12 founders of what was then called “The Danish Old People’s Home.” She’s been the role model for each succeeding generation of Hansen women for her commitment to the elderly, her devotion to her husband, John, and their six children, and her treasure trove of recipes for all kinds of Danish goodies.
Volunteering is a fundamental of the Danish culture, with 35 percent of Danes contributing their time and talents to the 100,000 volunteer organizations in Denmark. Getting involved at The Danish Home was always on my radar, because my mother was actively involved there for years. It was her family tradition and one that I’d like to pass on to my own family. From the time I was a little girl, she would bring me along when she participated in the monthly Danish Home birthday celebrations, which have been a special part of life at the home since 1910. I loved attending those parties—especially the Danish treats that are always served—and I got a kick out of wishing each celebrant “tillykke med fødselsdagen!”
So when Dad and Mom announced their plans to move south after retiring last year, I wasn’t surprised when Mom suggested, over kaffee and kringle at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, that I consider joining the Women’s Auxiliary of The Danish Home.
The timing is perfect, Mia,” she said, pointing out that Alex, my youngest, was about to start kindergarten, and I would soon have a bit more time on my hands. “And The Home’s 125th Anniversary will be celebrated in 2017, and you’ll love being a part of that. What’s more,” she added with a twinkle in her eye, “It’s our family tradition!” Then she reassured me that her many friends at the home, as well as the staff, would help me settle in to my new duties.
Like four generations of Hansen women before me, all I could say in response was, “Of course!” And being an office-goods geek, I stopped on my way home from the coffee shop to buy a deep red notebook ideal for bullet-journaling the events of this very special year in the life of The Danish Home.
The 125th Anniversary activities were the first to be added (after the monthly birthday celebrations, of course). I’m especially looking forward to the Kick-Off Celebration at 11 a.m., April 22, at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg, where keynote speaker Gitte Pedersen of Genomic Expression will tell us about her life growing up in Denmark and her company’s efforts to improve the outlook for cancer patients by using its sequence-based diagnostics.
There are many other special events planned for this anniversary year, and I can’t wait to do my part to ensure they’re both fun and successful. I’m also looking forward to sharing more with you about elder care, which has become a special interest as I’ve gotten to know the residents of The Danish Home. Who knows? My work at the home may even lead this stay-at-home mom into a new career.