Credits are played over Currier and Ives-like winter scenes
from life in Grand Rapids. It's Christmas morning.
-- Two well-bundled youths shovel out a suburban driveway
while their father scrapes ice off the family car.
-- Youths pelter a passing car with snowballs. Others, more
daring companions, grab onto the car's rear bumper and hitch
a free ride across the icy roads and past a sign which reads
"Grand Rapids City Limits."
-- Christmas decorations hang from the lamp posts on Monroe
-- Children, dressed in bright parkas, and breathing steam,
compare their Christmas presents: sleds, skis and a toboggan.
In the b.g., other children speed down Richmond Park Hill.
-- A woman's distant voice sings an old hymn:
"Precious memories, unseen angels,
Sent from somewhere to my soul,
How they linger ever near me,
And the sacred past unfolds.
Precious memories, how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul,
In the stillness of the midnight,
Precious sacred scenes unfold.
Precious father, loving mother,
Fly across the lonely years,
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memories appear."
INT. VAN DORN HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY
Four generations of the Van Dorn family have gathered at the
A long kitchen leads to the dining area, then to the spacious
The house is perhaps one hundred years old; deeply varnished
woodwork and patterned yellow wallpaper section off the walls.
Apart from several recent tasteless acquisitions (an E-Z Boy
lounge chair to replace the old Queen Anne which broke two
Easters ago), the house remains furnished in the style of
the previous century. The old dining room table, which
Grandfather Van Dorn built because he was too cheap to buy
one, has now become a priceless antique.
The rooms are littered with religious calendars, Bibles and
plaster-of-Paris plaques bearing such sentiments as "As For
Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord." The oak buffet is
laden with similar religious knickknacks and chintz. Framed,
tinted photographs of the family patriarchs are
indiscriminately mixed with newer snapshots of proud fathers
and high school graduates.
The house radiates a sense of continuity. Generations come
and go; the family remains. All of life's "old home scenes"
have been played out here: births, deaths, romances,
blasphemies, betrayals. And now the air is again alive with
the sounds of playing children, busy housewives and bickering
The kitchen is crowded with mothers, daughters and aunts.
Each has brought a special dish. ANNE DE JONG (nee Van Dorn),
thirty-five, supervises the final preparations. One aunt
shows another snapshots of her new grandchild.