When my father died, my sisters called to tell me. It was not unexpected and was, in many ways, a relief for him and everyone who loved him, but that does not lessen the loss or the finality of death. They gave me the news and I sat there, quietly stunned at how much more painful it was than Thought it would be. I think I whimpered, trying not to cry. So my oldest sister said, “Go make yourself a coffee. It’s a good thing. I’ll call you back after you’ve had a coffee.” I had to laugh to myself, because coffee as comfort is so very much the legacy of my dad, a first generation Swedish American.
Coffee is a ritual for Scandinavians who consume more coffee per capita than any other people in the world. Most people in the US are familiar with coffee breaks at the work place, but in a Swedish American home, there are coffee breaks every day, when we would all sit down together and enjoy a good cup of coffee with some bread and cheese or some fruit or a dessert. And by all, I mean all. Children get coffee with milk as soon as they are old enough to hold a cup without spilling it. Continue reading