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Lifelong tradition is loving reminder of cherished mother for local woman

O Christmas Tree!

Jemmye Green’s mother bakes a Christmas tree cake with her granddaughter, Cameran, who is now a freshman at Grangeville High School.

Jemmye Green’s mother bakes a Christmas tree cake with her granddaughter, Cameran, who is now a freshman at Grangeville High School.


Spirit of Christmas 2018


Jemmye Green of Grangeville has been making Christmas tree cakes most of her life. She is pictured here throughout the years.

— For some, a cake is just a cake. For Jemmye Green, a special Christmas cake is a reminder of her beloved mother.

Jemmye grew up along the Mississippi River in Kentucky, in the small town of Hickman. Following high school, she was working at Continental Grain when she met a young man named Joe Green from Idaho.

“After college, he began work in the agriculture industry and ended up in Kentucky,” Jemmye said. They began dating in 1999.

The baby of six siblings, Jemmye grew up very close to her mother. The two lived alone together for much of her life.

In 2002, Jemmye and Joe married in Jamaica and returned to the loaded truck to make the move to Idaho.

“Joe was asked to come back home to the Green family farm,” she explained.

Homesickness set in immediately and Jemmye cried for the first 45 minutes of their trip West.

“It was so bad, Joe got distracted and ran a stop sign and we were pulled over,” she laughed. “I think the policeman thought I had been kidnapped.”

However, Grangeville soon grew on Jemmye and the Greens started their family, which now includes three daughters: Cameran, 14; Madalyn, 12; and Alyson, 10.

Though life has changed for Jemmye since she moved to Idaho, one thing has remained the same: each year, she makes a Christmas tree cake.

“My mom started it when I was probably 5 or 6, just something for us to do together that became a tradition,” she explained.

When the duo first started, they would make a rectangle cake and cut it in the shape of a tree, then frost and decorate it.

“And my mom, like I am now, was a real picture person – we have years of Christmas tree cake photos,” smiled Jemmye.

Each year, the two would bake and decorate a cake and get a photo of the creation. When Jemmye moved to Idaho, she continued the tradition, and today bakes the cake with her daughters and husband.

“Somewhere along the way I bought a Christmas tree cake pan, so that makes it a little easier,” she said.

What’s in the cake is not the tradition – “it can be whatever we have on hand,” she said. It’s in the doing, the journey.

Jemmye’s mom died in 2016 and that journey has become even more precious now, she said, with tears in her eyes.

“It’s hard to explain, but it’s not just a cake. It’s a piece of my mom and it’s important,” she emphasized.

Her girls look forward to the cake making and Jemmye hopes one day at least one of her daughters will pass on the tradition to her own family.

Jemmye is involved in the community through Grangeville High School Boosters, Girl Scouts and Fenn Livestock 4-H. Christmas has meant different activities to the family throughout the years, but a constant has been that it revolves around the Green’s daughters. They nearly always ski on Christmas Eve and have in recent years been spending a few days together in McCall.

Wherever they are, one thing will remain the same: Their Christmas dinner table will include a brightly decorated Christmas tree cake.

“Sometimes it’s the little things that connect us,” smiled Jemmye.


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