Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twin Pines Christmas

In 1962 John and Norda Emmett bought this home on 6th North and 4th East in Logan Utah. Two tall, old Norwegian Spruces (more often called pines) shaded the east end of the home. Every Christmas since then there have been fun family gatherings with ever evolving and changing traditions. In the early years that meant Grandma and Grandpa Fife coming over on Christmas Eve. They would sleep downstairs and make sure we four oldest boys didn't seek up stairs too early. One constant has been the reading of the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew. Once grandkids entered the scene that reading was accompanied by a nativity reenactment.

Decorations were also part of the traditions. In recent years the traditional Christmas tree has been replaced by a grove of pines covered with over 300 snowflakes tatted by grandma Veara Fife. 

Christmas stockings were replaced with ski boots. Each year new boots were cut out and made (by John and Norda) for each new addition to the clan: spouses of the six children, their children and spouses, and their children. 

Boots for the first generation (John and Norda) were in red at the far left end. The six children of the second generation have big green boots, their children and spouses are smaller red boots and the great grandchildren of generation four are small green boots.This year Grandma added four new little green boots for four new great grandchildren.

Nativities are part of the decorations.

This nativity was hand made by third son Chad in the fourth grade Adam's School class of Mrs. Larsen.

Norda made this tiny nativity out of milk weed seed pods.

She made these plaster of paris wise men in Relief Society

A small snowflake (straw and olive wood) tree.

Skiers grace this bookshelf and a nearby tree (not shown).

This antique Santa with a bouncing headed reindeer was a favorite decoration of Grandpa Roland Emmett.

Marie stitched the "No place like home for the holidays" as a Christmas gift in commemoration of our annual singing of that song. The lower stitchery is Scandinavian where it is a Christmas tradition to leave wheat sheaves out for the birds to eat from.

The heart and soul of these yearly celebrations is Norda Emmett (now age 86). This year over sixty members of the family gathered to celebrate with her on the day after Christmas. She was recently diagnosed with cancer in the lung and kidney so this gathering was extra meaningful. It was good medicine for her to have everyone gathered together.

After visiting and playing we all enjoyed a nice meal.

Then it was time for the nativity program.

Oldest grandson John plays Samuel the Lamanite who in the Book of Mormon from atop a city wall prophesied about the birth of Jesus.

Some believed him, but those who didn't shot arrows and threw stones at him (as the grand kids are doing here). To read the full account click here

His Prophecies came true as recorded in Luke and Matthew. Great Granddaughter Maggie is baby Jesus. She is named after her great-great-great-great grandmother Margaret Caldwell.

The rest of the nativity cast are the two youngest grandchildren and almost all of the great grandchildren. 


Many of the costumes are authentic Holy Land robes and head dresses collected over the years in trips to Israel/Palestine by John and Norda and their son Chad (as well as Chad's trip to Morocco).

Here is a photo from 1988 of one of the first nativity pageants with the ten oldest grandchildren. John in middle back as Joseph was Samuel the Lamanite this year. His son Jack was Joseph this year and his two daughters were an angel and shepherd.

Next on the agenda was the talent portion. It included several piano solos.

Some duets (serious and humorous).

Recitations of poetry and family memories.

Communal Singing. (And waving to cousin Brian and boys who joined us via Skype from Portland).

One of the traditional songs we sing is a modified version of "Home for the holidays." When we first started to sing it over thirty years ago we changed the lyrics to include places where missions had been served. Now it includes the names of new additions to the family.

Home for the Holidays 2013

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

We gather each year at the twin pine ranch
To eat some aebelskivers
Sing some songs and do some skiing at the Beav.
We welcome Greyson, Maggie, Jacob and Jay Emmett to the clan
From the mid west, west coast, Wasatch Front
We gather all together.

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

Gift giving. Here Norda presents a book (Follow Me to Zion) to each family about the Willie Handcart company which includes a chapter about her Caldwell ancestors (including her grandmother Agnes) and a commentary by Norda about how the descendents of Margaret and Agnes Caldwell have benefited from knowing their story.

Tom then made a second gift presentation from Grandma to each child, grandchild and great grandchild. It is a mod podged tile (by Shelly) with a photo of Grandpa John as a toddler and the question he always asked his grandkids.

Then we all gathered for a family photo decked out in various t-shirts and sweatshirts produced by Norda's Mountain Outfitters and given as Christmas gifts over the years.

Then each family had their photo taken with the matriarch. 

The Jake Emmett Family (Minus son Ben and family)

The Chad Emmett Family. We love Grandma and we love Christmas. 

For more photos of the gathering click here

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