My grandma was extremely proud of her Scandinavian heritage, and no matter the topic, she found some way to relate it to Scandinavian culture. Each time I visited, we found our way to Ballard (Seattle’s Scandinavian neighborhood) and the Nordic Heritage Museum, ideally during Viking Days, the museum’s annual celebration. I always had a blast there, especially because Grandma let me run free, figuring that I couldn’t get into much trouble surrounded by so many wholesome Scandinavians (about half of whom apparently knew Grandma and kept an eye on me). Grandma loved a good party, and she really loved dancing, and Viking Days provided both. Grandma could polka and schottische with the best of them, and she usually commandeered me for a reluctant (on my part) tour or two around the dance floor.
In other words, Grandma was a sucker for Scandinavian dance music, so when she heard about a Swedish group that had become an international dance music sensation, she knew just what to get me for Christmas. And that’s how I ended up with a couple of Abba albums. When my parents asked her why she’d sent me these records—which explored some themes that strained my parents’ ability for euphemistic explanation—she said that Abba were “nice Swedish kids” and told my parents to get over it.