The Framptons: “We Still Like Each Other After All These Years”

Our family traditions are the key.

Forty-two people have gathered on the back porch, each with a decorated hard-boiled egg. The oldest member of the family is eighty-nine, and the youngest is a toddler. Some small runways have been set up, and when the signal is given, several contestants start rolling eggs at each other, trying to crack their opponents’ eggshells.

The egg roll is one of the numerous traditions that Dan and Berylene Frampton have started together. Like many of their other traditions, it has grown to involve grandchildren and great-grandparents.

The Framptons draw a large chart for the matches and set up egg courses. The family members then pair off and roll their eggs toward each other. Young children receive help from their parents. The eggs that crack are out, and the wins are recorded on the chart, determining who faces off in the next round. The eggs keep cracking until only two remain, and the final two roll for the championship. A small traveling trophy goes to the winner, who takes it home until next year.

The competition gets a bit stiff. Dan and Berylene even raise their own chickens and feed them extra calcium in an effort to get the strongest eggs. Still, that is often not good enough. Berylene says, “I’ve never gotten past the first round, although two years ago, one of my borrowed eggs finally won. Some eggs always get broken before the roll, so then the kids borrow my good eggs.”

This emphasis on family traditions began years ago. Dan and Berylene enjoy doing things together and feel that traditions enhance family closeness and unity and give children greater security. In many cases, the traditions have helped the Framptons teach gospel values and hold the family together.

Berylene describes some very difficult years. “From ages fourteen to nineteen, our oldest was rebellious. There was a lot of contention between us. It’s always difficult when you’re faced with a wayward son. We’re still not exactly sure what brought him back to us and the gospel. It may be that, because the family was so close and did so many things together, when he began to stray, the others helped call him back.

“Even when he was most rebellious, he’d say, ‘Well, aren’t we going to do this?’ or ‘Aren’t we going to do that?’ when it came time for a tradition. Later, after he had returned to the Church and was serving a mission, one of his missionary companions came home and told us, ‘I know every one of your traditions. I can tell them to you word for word.’ They were that important to our son. Now, as we visit our children’s homes, we find that he is continuing those traditions more than any of the others.”

As newlyweds, Dan and Berylene Frampton decided that they would always do some things together. They started with a few very simple traditions that their stake president advised them to set up. For instance, Berylene says, “We’ve never let a day go by without a kiss goodnight and an ‘I love you.’ We also never leave or return to the house without a kiss good-bye or a kiss hello. Those things may seem trivial, but over the years, they’ve proved to be important.”

“One principle we feel strongly about,” Dan explains, “is prayer together. Except for the times I’ve been away on trips, we’ve never missed kneeling and praying together before we retire. That has been a powerful spiritual influence in our marriage. Then, as children came along, we added family prayer.

“When our youngest, Heidi, was ten, we started having a devotional with scripture study every morning. The scripture study has had a great impact on our family. Heidi, who experienced the devotional longer than any of our other children, is the most knowledgeable among us on the scriptures. She developed a deep love of the standard works and went on a mission to Holland.”

From the beginning, Dan and Berylene have tried to keep Friday nights open for dates, without any children. Dan says that the dates have helped their marriage. “No matter how rough things get during the week, we say, ‘Well, it’s almost Friday.’”

The first few years of their marriage, Dan was in the Air Force, stationed at Victorville, California. There were three couples from Salt Lake City at the base, and they all lived on Utah Street next to each other. They began a Christmas tradition that has lasted to the present. Berylene explains:

“We became such good friends that we lived what we called a ‘united order.’ One would have an iron, and one would have a ironing board. One would have a dustpan. We borrowed everything from each other. Our friendships have meant so much that we get together every Christmas. At first it was just the six of us; then, as the babies came along, we got to the point where we would divide them up. The kids twelve and older would go with the adults, and the little ones would go to the children’s party. Now we’re back to the six of us again.”

For many years, the Framptons didn’t have much to live on, but they did have a large lot. They both liked gardening, so they decided to grow as much of their food as possible. Even now they still put in an extensive garden every year.

They quickly found that their gardening methods differed: Dan liked his rows straight, while Berylene liked to plant the seeds thick and bunch them up. Finally, Dan said, “Okay, I’ll make the rows; you plant the peas.” He grabbed a hoe, put his arms around Berylene from the back, and as he dug his straight rows, she dropped the peas in as thick as she wanted. One neighbor happened to see them and asked what they were doing. “Planting peas,” they replied. “Well,” she commented, “I’ve never seen peas planted that way before.” Dan says that as long as he makes the rows, they have no problem gardening together.

Besides being enjoyable, gardening proved to be economical. Berylene tells of a marketing survey one company was making to see what families bought. At that time, the Framptons didn’t buy vegetables or fruit or bread. She told Dan as she was answering the questions on the form, “They won’t believe this. You watch—they’ll call us.” Sure enough, the company called.

Both also love the outdoors, and many of their traditions reflect that love. When the children were little, the family went camping every year, sometimes to Yellowstone, sometimes to the beach, and sometimes just up the canyons. One year they hiked up Mount Olympus. As the children established their own families, the vacation traditions changed. Now Dan and Berylene go to Lake Powell every year with their children for a week on a houseboat, minus the grandchildren. During the summer, they plan a three-day camping trip with the grandchildren. On the Labor Day weekend, Dan also goes on a fishing trip with his eight sons and sons-in-law and the grandsons who are old enough.

For three or four years, Berylene wanted a tent and suggested to Dan that it would make a good birthday present, but he’d reply that it wasn’t personal enough. Finally she said, “It is personal if a person wants it!” She was serving as Young Women president at the time, and she had to borrow a tent for the outings. She described what she wanted, and she and Dan finally found it. At the store, she tried putting up the tent by herself while Dan and the salesman watched. She needed to know that she could put it up when no one was around to help. Since then, though, Dan has actually used it more than Berylene.

Dan relates that one time, when he was deer hunting with his sons, they chopped down a dead tree they were afraid would fall over on them. “Well, it fell down right on the tent—popped it like a sack. The minute we walked through the door when we got home, Berylene said, ‘All right, what happened to my tent?’ We didn’t have to say anything—she could tell just from the look on our faces. That tent has been through a lot.”

Holidays are big events for the Framptons. Halloween is Berylene’s favorite, and she describes their Halloween traditions with enthusiasm. “That’s my day to shine. I dress like a witch, then invite the kids to breakfast with a cackle. The table has a black tablecloth and a pumpkin with a candle in it. I serve ghost juice (milk) or pumpkin juice (orange juice). We have a biscuit bread dyed orange and shaped like a pumpkin. I cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth and fill those with scrambled eggs so it looks like light shining out, then cover the bread with orange honey butter. On Halloween night, my cauldron is on the porch, and I’m out there in my costume. Children come from all over, and I serve them cookies on sticks and apple cider, hot chocolate, or root beer.”

On Thanksgiving, every second year Dan and Berylene have dinner with their children, and every other year, when the children are at their in-laws’ homes, the two go alone to places like Jackson Hole or St. George for a four- or five-day trip. Berylene usually makes up kits for gingerbread houses ahead of time, and on the weekend following Thanksgiving, everyone gathers to make gingerbread houses to take home.

On the first Saturday in December, Berylene and all the daughters and daughters-in-law have a candy-making day. Those with small babies hire baby-sitters, and starting at 4:00 in the morning, the women make turtles and pecan rolls to give as gifts. They’re up to about 1,300 turtles and 130 pecan rolls.

Berylene also likes to make and deliver Christmas breads for the neighbors. She can usually finish her baking in a day, but one year it seemed to drag on and on. Berylene said, “I can’t believe it’s taking us so long,” and Dan asked, “Well, how many are you making?” They counted seventy loaves. Dan exclaimed, “I haven’t got seventy friends, even counting all my old army buddies!”

On Christmas day, the children come in the afternoon and open presents. Their traditional Christmas dinner is lasagna, which Berylene makes ahead and freezes. She has knitted a sock for every child and grandchild. They used to have them on one wall, but last year there were so many—thirty-nine—that they put up clotheslines and hung them on the back porch, filling them with fruit.

Dan and Berylene stuff Christmas stockings

Dan and Berylene stuff Christmas stockings. The thirty-nine socks—one for each child and grandchild—no longer fit in the living room. (Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

They usually decorate the tree on the first Monday in December and take it down on New Year’s Day. On the day after Christmas, Berylene and all the women in the family go out for lunch together.

On New Year’s Eve, when the children were young, the Framptons would set the clocks ahead to New York time, then turn on the TV and have a family celebration with the New Yorkers. Then they’d go to sleep and get up early on New Year’s Day to go sleigh-riding.

Birthdays have always been cause for celebration. The Framptons have what they call “magical birthdays.” When family members turn the same ages as their birthdates, they get the same number of presents. If a person is born on the fourth and turns four, he or she gets four presents. Berylene says, “But think of the kids who were born on the twenty-fifth. Some of our children have received their ‘magical’ presents after they got married. I didn’t realize what we were getting into when I started that tradition!”

On a child’s eighth birthday, the family went to the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the baptism. In those days, all the baptisms in the area were performed at the Tabernacle. Then they went out to dinner—which they could only afford to do once a year because there were ten of them. People would watch them file into the restaurant and start counting. It got so that the children would just say “Ten!” as they sat down.

Dan and Berylene also told their children that they could have any reception they wanted if they married in the temple. All the children had temple marriages, the last in August 1987. The five daughters each chose special receptions, but the real payoff for Dan and Berylene was to be with their children when they and their spouses were married in the house of the Lord.

One family custom took place on Sunday morning of general conference, when the children and parents would have a pillow fight. Dan was in the bishopric or the stake presidency for years, and he was never home on Sunday mornings except on general conference Sundays. The children would always sneak in that morning and wake him up by thumping him with their pillows. Then they’d settle down to watch the morning conference session.

Not all the Frampton’s traditions were easy to set up or immediately successful. At first, they struggled with family home evening. “We were very strict at the beginning,” Dan says. “It wasn’t until we learned how to get the little ones involved that we were successful. We stopped lining the kids up and making them sit down, and instead got down on the floor and really enjoyed playing and being with them.” After that, family home evening became one of their most rewarding traditions.

Berylene, too, remembers those early home evenings and the gradual improvement. “We had children ranging from two or three years old to over twelve. When we made family home evening more of an activity rather than an arms-folded, preach-preach time, we had better experiences. I think Satan works harder on Mondays than at any other time. He doesn’t want us doing what’s right and what will really help our families.” Dan adds, “We taught many fine gospel lessons once we figured out what would work and loosened up.”

It’s been satisfying for Dan and Berylene to see their children continue many of their traditions, even those the children didn’t like when they were younger. Berylene refers to one in particular. “I cannot stand contention, whether it’s in my marriage, in my home, or at work. So whenever the kids would start fighting, I’d make them sit across the table from each other and sing ‘Let’s Be Kind to One Another.’ They vowed they would never do that to their kids. But now I hear them say every once in a while, ‘I can’t believe it. I made my kids sing that song!’”

[photos] Above: The Framptons’ annual egg roll. Contestants pair off and roll eggs together until only one egg remains uncracked. Here, Dan helps a grandson roll his egg. Right: Dan and Berylene Frampton before a portrait of their family. (Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

[photo] When the children were still at home, the Framptons went sledding every New Year’s Day.

[photo] The yearly candy-making day for Berylene and her daughters and daughters-in-law. They transform the sticky mounds into more than 1,400 turtles and pecan rolls. (Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff.)