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The Gift My Best Childhood Friend Gave Me

Betina Illy and Elisa Christensen

As an adult, I have had the unique joy of being told many times, when I meet non-Americans, that there is something different about the way I carry myself.

They tell me I carry myself more like a European than an American. They explain that I have a certain worldly refinement not often found in Americans.

I explain to them that was because I was reared half of my childhood by an extraordinary German family.

I remember the dinners I attended that were as delicious as they were meticulous and beautifully presented.

I remember the education I got about the world from a different perspective, sitting in the family room with Betina's amazing parents, Steve and Katie. (With Steve sitting in his classic Eames lounge!).

I remember the love I was shown by all of the Illy family, as if I was as much a member as any of them.

I remember Betina's mom, Katie, showing me the beauty of sleeping under a down comforter and how to get the damned thing properly into a duvet cover!

I still know how to make Katie's chocolate mousse by heart, although she had to send the recipe to me about five times!

I feel like I owe my impeccable table manners to this second family of mine.

I feel like I gained my European flair from them.

I remember learning how to apply mascara by watching Sylvia, Betina's older sister. ! I still think of her every time I apply it!

I remember taking newborn Neeko to see Katie, and her cooing and giggling over him like he was her own grandson.

Katie Illy, Elisa Christensen and Nicholai Christensen
Katie Illy and Nicholai Christensen

I will never forget the love they all gave me, as if I was

one of the tribe.

I will never forget the joy I got from spending time with them.

This special family was, and always will be, my family too.

Betina is my true sister and always will be. And therefore, I am by default, half-German!!

I love and miss them all. More than I could ever express!

Michael Erickson, Betina Erickson, (Illy), Garrett Erickson, Katie and Steve Illy

And that is how I ended up with my European refinement, and a killer chocolate mousse recipe!

© 2018 Elisa Fortise Christensen

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