One day this past week Anna and I were at Gordy's house for dinner and we turned to talking about two of the most important Nielsen traits: popcorn poppers and pianos. This was mostly brought on by two of Gordy's friends coming to steal popcorn from his much beloved stir crazy and that Meagan and I had delivered Anna's piano to her after general conference. Like some kind of genetic trait or an early inheritance these two items have followed every Nielsen to leave the yellow house on West Sunset Drive. They are distinctly Nielsen, separately you rarely find them among college students, but in pair it is never found except in the offspring of David and Bonnie. Anna and I had actually talked about it earlier that week and then we found ourselves explaining this phenomenon to Gordy's friends when they asked if we also had stir crazy popcorn poppers. We explained that yes, we were Nielsens.
While this is humorous in that it is interesting and true, it has caused me to reflect on the true character of being a Nielsen and the legacy we follow. The mere fact that we carry these items with us wherever we go has a reflection on the things we just can't live with out. We have pianos because music is ingrained in the very core of the worst pianist amongst us (me). We all took piano, it wasn't an option it was just something you did. Music and extremely powerful tool and we were all taught how to make it. If there was one cardinal reason we were taught piano I would have to say that it was so we could serve, the church will always need pianists and mom thought we should be prepared in case that was us. We've all played for church meetings (even myself), and of course the other three have often served in callings involving the piano or organ (Anna is currently). Music was always prevalent in our home, and I think we can consider it one of our greatest blessings there. This of course extends back beyond the single dormer home in Akron, it stretches back to our Grandparents and what they taught and had taught to mommy and papa that prepared them for us. Truly we follow a legacy as our pianos follow us.
The Popcorn popper is also an item that says something distinct about the Nielsen culture and values. Why a popcorn popper? What made the stir crazy such a central part of the Nielsen childhood? Its simple really, there were a ton of us, and we are mormon. The ton of us means that we naturally fell to a food that was simple, tasty, and cost effective, something we didn't have to worry about dividing 8 ways because there would always be more of it. The mormon part meant that we kept food storage, so we order popcorn 500 pounds at a time and kept columns of it in 5 gallon buckets in our basement. It was a food that showed the importance to us of a shared family experience because we could gather together and all eat popcorn as we played games or watched movies. Many people we meet know popcorn only as something they had at the theater, but we knew it as part of the sustenance of daily life.
In short I think this pair P words represents four core values we've taken with us out into the world: Faith, Family, Fun, and Frugality. These have been a driving and carrying force to the four of us in our adventures away from home.