20 Qs: Karen is Sharin’: Karen Ashton graced the premiere cover of Utah Valley Magazine 20 years ago


What do you remember about being on the cover? I had never been on a cover — and I haven’t been on one since! It was an honor. I see it now and think, “Look at my apron and hat! I look like I’m ready to dig up a hillside!” At the time, Utah Valley Magazine was new and the gardens were new.

Still have the outfit? I wear the hat! My kids laugh. It’s terribly out of fashion.

Best part of Thanksgiving Point? It is about pausing, pondering, thinking, praying — all the things we don’t value in a commercially driven world. The trees and flowers are all shouting beautiful messages.

Memorable moment at Thanksgiving Point? I was at the Quilt Show recently where quilts were flapping in the breeze, and that’s about as good as it gets for me.

What is your favorite dish at Harvest restaurant? I always order shrimp nachos as the appetizer. By the time I’ve finished, I am not hungry for my entree!

What does it feel like to drive past Point of the Mountain and see the beautiful acreage? Thanksgiving Point still takes my breath away. When we bought it, people thought it was in the middle of nowhere. It is in the middle of everything!

Did you see it all in your mind? I saw museums and family-centered activities, but I didn’t imagine all the business growth.

What more do you see in the future of Thanksgiving Point? More museums and bike paths. The golf course is sitting there like a gem. People are enjoying it, but there are perhaps more who would love to get on the property and enjoy on the grass.

Do you bring a piece of the gardens to your Orem home? Every year we do “The Mum and Pumpkin Show” on my front doorsteps, with hay bales and gourds. My grandson is from Texas but is at BYU, and he saw the porch and said, “This is home, Grammy. This is where I belong.”

How do you feel about the Light of the World Sculpture Garden? It is amazing, and sculptor Angela Johnson is now working on a Tree of Life presentation that will be added to the gardens.

Have Thanksgiving Point and Timpanogos Storytelling Festival still kept you busy this year? I’m on a lot of Zoom calls for Thanksgiving Point and the storytelling festival, which we did this year virtually. Frankly, it was a blessing for the whole world. People who never could have made it to the festival watched the stories online.

Can you believe the growth of the storytelling festival? It’s nice to live long enough to see the blooming of an idea. We’ve done the festival for 31 years!

How has 2020 been for you? It’s been quieter. I’m enjoying it way too much! But the sad thing is no hugs. I didn’t realize how much I love human touch.

2020 to-dos? Not only did we store up food and toilet paper, I also stored up a little too much fabric and silk thread. I’ve had all that I could possibly do and more!

What does your family tree look like? I have 65 grandchildren. I can remember all their names — but not all their birthdays.

Hardest part of the past 20 years? I had breast cancer and chemo, which was like medieval torture. But I got through it and have had spectacular years since then.

Highlight of past 20 years? Serving as president and matron of the Provo Temple were the crowning moments of our lives. It was like breathing golden air to be in the Lord’s house every single day.

What projects are you working on now? My own personal history. I want my children to know and remember things that are important to me.

You wrote a Christmas book last year! Yes, and I’m finishing my second. Elspeth Young is doing the artwork again, and it’s breathtaking. It’s about a young refugee from the Mexican colonies. After he passed, I asked the family if I could tell his story. It is full of the milk of human kindness!

How did Christmas become so big at Thanksgiving Point? I remember the first year we put a few lights on tiny Christmas trees by the railroad tracks. It added a little glow to the night sky. And now Luminaria has become a Christmas tradition with millions of lights. I’m amazed and grateful.


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