A few days earlier, while scrambling to get the dessert slot on the sign up sheet for the party, I noticed a mostly foreign word at the top of the page. I recognized the "tomte" part, because c'mon, that's common knowledge to us third gen Swedish Americans. Tomten is the little guy like Santa who brings presents on Christmas. He's also the guy (along with his friends) who appears in tchochke form all over my house come Christmastime, mostly because of the "Made in Sweden" stickers affixed to the miniature clogs. It's how I know he's my people.
So with the confidence of a gal who knows her ethnic clutter, I asked about the tomtegubbar thing. "Is it German?," I asked.
I said that I'd heard of tomte, but that gubbar part, ahhh, no. The teachers explained that a former, real Swedish family, who's kids had graduated and gone on to win prospective Nobel prizes, had first introduced the humble school to Tomtegubbar. Turns out that he is no plain jane tomte, he is Sweden's one true holiday house gnome. The one with the goods.
"Ohhh," I said. "Did I mention that I can bake some mean pepparkakors, Swedish for ginger cookies? It's my grandmother's recipe. The one from Sweden." They didn't care. I had already been revealed as the white bread goober that I am.