For 410 Orem girls and their mothers, it was easy to say "Frohliche Weihnachten" this year.
The teenagers took part in a program through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to decorate a tall Christmas tree with "international dolls."Shauna Pusey, a director in the local Young Women's program for the LDS Church in Orem, spearheaded the project this year, which decorated the tree in the visitor center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
"Usually, the church finds a lot of people in a lot of different areas to make the dolls," Pusey said. But this year a more focused area was specified.
"We also felt this would be a wonderful thing for the Laurels (16- and 17-year old LDS girls) to do," she said, rather than limiting it to the adults of the church.
Pusey said she felt one of the most important aspect of the project was that each girl and her mother learned more about the country that inspired the doll they created.
"We concentrated heavily on researching the country," she said. "And people told us they felt the dolls were a little more authentic this year than in years past."
Carey Harwood, 17, made a doll representing India. She said she tried to be true to the religious and cultural values of the country.
"It took a couple of weeks to make the doll, but I thought the culture was interesting and my mom and I tried to be as real as possible," she said.
Pusey said that a few months ago, she organized an international dinner and had some of the girls choose a country, study it and make a presentation about it.
"This was to get them started thinking about what they wanted to do," she said.
The teens also putting a little pocket in each doll and inserted some thoughts about religion or other concerns.
Pusey said the girls will present the dolls to the General Board of the Young Women's organization of the LDS Church when the Christmas season is over.
"When the members of the General Board travel, they will give them away as gifts to girls around the world," Pusey said.
Harwood said she thought this was the best aspect of the project, to share her work with other girls around the world.
Sixteen-year-old Amy Peterson felt the same way.
"If it was I who got one of the dolls, I would think it was pretty neat," said Peterson, who made a doll of an American Indian because she wanted to share some American culture, too.
Pusey said there were also jogger dolls and other aspects of American culture that the girls wanted to share.
"The best part about the project this year was that the girls did it," she said. They spent time holding workshops to show other girls how to make their dolls.
"It's much more meaningful than just having adults do it," Pusey said.
Many fell in love with their dolls and it was a real act of generosity to give them away, Pusey said. "They were real gifts of love."