I was maybe 2-years-old when I was dressed in my first “bunad” — a traditional Norwegian costume — and placed in my grandparent’s front yard to pose for photos.

“Uff da” was a common saying at their house, an outdated Norwegian phrase similar to “Uh-oh” that is imprinted on everything from coffee mugs to T-shirts in places like Minnesota.

I was put on a plane to Norway when I was 14 to spend the summer with relatives, which was followed later by studying Norwegian at the University of Oslo for a semester in college. I’ve been back to Norway six times since.

At Christmas, we eat Norwegian meatballs and lefse. I drive a car with a Norwegian flag license plate.

When my kids were born, I seriously considered giving at least one of them a Norwegian name, much the way my mother and uncles were, but decided on more “normal” family names instead. (There’s something to be said for a child being able to pronounce their own name.)

I consider myself a Norwegian-American.

So it was a little surprising, although not totally shocking, to find out recently that while I have Norwegian blood, I don’t have much of it.

I took a “23 and Me” genetic test this summer and just recently got the results.

I am at least 24.5 percent Scandinavian, mostly Norwegian, according to the test. That was an expected result, as my grandfather’s parents were Norwegian.

But more than anything, I have English and Irish genes, at 30 percent, Perhaps that’s my grandmother’s light brown, wavy hair coming through, although she’d probably say it was my “Irish” stubborn streak. Women in my family all have it, for better or for worse.

Following the British genes are “eastern European,” likely Hungarian, the test suggested, which is my dad’s side of the family shining through. I have my grandmother’s round nose and deep set eyes, something I can only imagine came from her Czech parents. And according to the test, I am 7 percent German, and 14 percent “Northwest European.”

The test also correctly estimated that my ancestors were fairly recent immigrants, only two or three generations from crossing the Atlantic.

The test was also correct on my hair texture and color, my skin tone and the fact that I have hazel eyes. It was correct on my stature, the fact that I’m a deep sleeper and that I like cilantro. For a person of my genetic background and my age, I likely wake up at around 8:18 a.m. on days that I “sleep in,” the test results declared. Again, pretty correct.

But while the genetic tests are interesting, is there such a thing as too much information? Would I test my kids to see what lies in their gene pool? I’m not so sure.

I was helping my 7-year-old son prepare a first grade “All About Me” presentation last week, and in it he was to explain our family roots and family traditions. Explaining the family tree might be difficult, I thought. While my American roots are fairly shallow, my husband’s run long and deep.

But when it comes to family traditions, there is no doubt. For his project, we included a picture of my son as a toddler, smiling broadly with his mop of white-blonde hair, wearing his bunad when we were on vacation in Norway. And the next day, I sent him to school for his presentation with a Norwegian flag hanging out of his oversized backpack.

Genes aren’t everything. But traditions are still important.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.