While we all have our favorite foods and traditions during this holiday season…for me, it’s not chocolate or cookies, it’s lefse! For as long as I can remember this Scandinavian treat has been part of my Christmas season. Oh my, and it is SO good…especially with butter and sugar!
Lefse is a traditional, soft Norwegian flatbread. It is made with potatoes and flour and recipes often include milk or cream. This dough is rolled thin and baked on a hot, dry griddle. It might sound easy, but there is a real art to it—and my mother knew just how to roll that dough out and place it on the griddle without tearing it. There are special tools to assist in the process, including a grooved rolling pin and long wooden sticks used to pick up the rolled out dough and place on the griddle. For many families making the lefse is a group effort because it’s just more enjoyable as a holiday activity.
When my Mom turned 70 all of my siblings were going to be in Minnesota to celebrate the event, and since her birthday was December 21st it seemed like the perfect time for a family “Lefse Roll-Off” Contest. I made special aprons for everyone and we all had our chance to roll out a piece of lefse and bake it on the griddle. Of course, Mother Hopfner was the judge! I can’t remember who won the event…but I do remember what fun we had making the lefse and consuming it! Warm lefse with the butter melting is simply heavenly.
I have yet to perfect my skills with making lefse, I just was never good with the whole process, so now I just buy it in the store. My mom has passed, but not those wonderful memories…I will always have those to cherish!
Of course many memories will be made in Green House homes across the country with Elders and family members during this holiday season. Our core value of Meaningful Life revolves around those formal and informal opportunities for engagement. Special holiday traditions and events are all about putting meaning in our lives!
Let us know if lefse is on your table this year…or what favorite food or tradition is always part of your holiday season!
During an interview with the Diane Rehm Show on NPR this week, Dr. Gawande asked listeners to strive for more than simply “a good death.” Instead, he says we must ask ourselves what brings the most meaning and purpose to our lives and fill our days with those things, to the best of our ability, until we die. During the interview, Dr. Gawande mentions The Green House Project as an organization that is working tirelessly to expand a model of autonomy, growth, and purposeful living to individuals at the end of their lives. The full interview transcript is here, in addition to the audio recording.
At an appearance in Washington, D.C. last night, Dr. Gawande spoke to a crowd of over two hundred people about the innovative approach of The Green House model in skilled nursing care. In Chapter 5 of his new book he writes that Green House homes are “…designed to pursue that idea that a life worth living can be created…by focusing on food, homemaking, and befriending others.”
The loneliness, helplessness and boredom so often experienced by those living out the end of their lives in long-term care institutions should not be the norm in this country. We need innovative approaches, like The Green House model, which are built on the belief that every person, up until their last breath, should have the freedom to feel empowered and engaged in their life.
Dr. Bill Thomas, the visionary who created The Green House model after realizing that his Harvard medical education didn’t give him the tools to treat loneliness, helplessness and boredom, has spent his life trying to answer the question, “What comes next?” With more than 1 million Americans living in nursing homes that were built in the 1960s and 1970s the time is ripe to consider a “shift from large institutional nursing homes to small and more friendly [homes]”.
This summer, NPR reporter, Ina Jaffe (@InaJaffeNPR), spent some time at The Green House Residences of Stadium Place, the first Green House project in Maryland, which serves predominantly low income elders. During her visit, Ms. Jaffe observed that, “You can hear the sounds and smell the aromas coming from an open kitchen that looks like it belongs in a big suburban house”.
Mealtime in a Green House home is a special time, where you can really feel the deep relationships between the versatile direct care workers and the elders. It is a time to come together as a community. “We cook for them. We do daily activities with them. We spend a lot of quality time with our elders.” says Tumarka Wilson, one of the direct care team members in the home. Ms. Wilson has a base education as a certified nursing assistant and received 128 hours of additional education from The Green House Project to gain the skills she needs to manage The Green House home.
The Green House Project is currently open and operating in 24 states around the country. This fall, when Green House homes open in Florida, half of the country will have an option to bring their elders meaningful life and real home while receiving long term care in a Green House Home. With cost neutral operations, this model has the potential to spread quickly, and will eventually be an option in every community.
On September 7, 2012, WGVU a local NPR affiliate in Michigan interviewed Dr. Bill Thomas, and Porter Hills CEO, Ingrid Weaver, about The Green House Project. They discuss how the model transforms the philosophy, organizational design and environment of traditional long term care, radically shifting the paradigm of aging! Additionally, this interview highlights the power of bringing together providers from around the country to celebrate and learn from each other. Porter Hills is a wonderful host, and a great example of what it means to LIVE The Green House brand and mission. It can be different!!