Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Christ-Centered Christmas Dinner

Tonight we had our Christ-Centered Christmas dinner. This is a tradition we started when we got married. Each year we choose a family that we feel has displayed Christ-like attributes to us, and those around them. We have a special dinner where we give them a small gift and tell them how much we appreciate their Christ-like example. We feel by doing this we can bring a greater focus of Christ to the season (doesn't it seem silly that we need a reason to bring a greater focus of Christ? I mean, isn't that the reason for the season in the first place?). We hope that the boys will begin to look around them and find people they see that display the light of Christ and that they will want to take an active part in choosing the family as they get a little older.

I always look forward to this night with great anticipation. And yet, I always feel a little let down afterward--not because the dinner wasn't good or the company wasn't great, but because I'm never quite satisfied that when the family leaves our house they know just how much we appreciate them and admire them. I wish I knew how to convey to them just what they have meant to us.

The first year we chose two families--Jillian and Josh Wilhite and Steffanie and Matt McGhie. I felt that Jill was a kindred spirit. I loved hanging out with her and talking to her. Jill and Josh were so comfortable and easy to be around. We loved having dinner with them and enjoyed watching conference at their house. I'll never forget the day I whined to Jill about being so sick when I was pregnant with Will and she confided in me about her struggles getting pregnant. I felt terrible and selfish, but Jill, while she might have felt jealous or unhappy, never made me feel anything but her support and happiness that I was having a baby. Her example taught me to look outside myself and find happiness for others amidst my own struggles.

The McGhie's are probably the coolest couple we've ever known. She is beautiful, he is good-looking, their kids look like they stepped out of a catalogue. We both felt intimidated by them initially but their sincerity and warmth won us over. The McGhie's were such wonderful examples to us of service and devotion to the church. They opened their arms to us and made us feel welcomed and loved. In the last few years the McGhie's have had to face things that some people never have to deal with in life time. Yet they have dealt with their trials with such grace and faith. We can only hope to become like them one day. (As a side note, both Josh and Matt were our home teachers for close to two years)

The third family we chose were the Choate's. I've written about the Choate's before. The Choate's are the kind of people that would give their right arm for someone. It seemed like we would try to serve them but then they would turn around and serve us ten times the amount we had served them. We loved hanging out with the Choate's, going for walks to their house, spending New Year's Eve with them, and just talking to them for hours. You could look all over the world and not find better people. Plus, they didn't mind when Mike would kick them out of our house.

Chad and Monica Woods were the fourth family we chose. When we moved into this ward they were literally our only friends for a long time. Monica invited us over to their house the first Sunday we moved in. It was Mother's Day and she made the most fantastic meal you could imagine. I have always felt guilty about letting her cook for us on Mother's Day. Chad and Monica are so down to earth and so fun to be around. We always laugh when we spend time with them. Chad is the easiest person to talk to and always makes people feel comfortable. When I first got pregnant and was still really sick, Monica showed up at the house with this delicious dinner and told me to put it in my freezer and pull it out one day when I needed it. I told her we really were doing fine and didn't need her meal but sure enough one day I felt pretty sick and cooking was the last thing I wanted to do and her meal was so appreciated. I was so thankful for a thoughtful friend who looked into the future and filled a need.

Tonight we had Josh and Kristi Gustafson over for our special dinner. Josh is a surgeon and while not home often, is a fantastic father. You can tell what a good father he is by the happiness displayed on the faces of his children when he comes home. Josh is unique in that, when he was going to medical school he made the decision not to study on Sunday's but to reserve Sunday for the Lord. Josh is the doctor that came and glued Isaac's toe for us after a long day at work. Kristi is also someone that I feel is a kindred spirit. Kristi thinks so similarly to me but the way we approach situations are very different. While I approach something with fire and passion, Kristi approaches the same situation with calmness and diplomacy. She is the mother I only hope to be someday. I've never heard her raise her voice to her children. She parents with gentleness and love and I really admire that attribute. Kristi's home is comfortable and perfect. I never feel out of place in her home--the spirit abounds and it is a place where love and creativity can be seen and felt. Their girls are such good friends to the boys and the boys have never had a negative thing to say about them. When we asked the boys about what family we could choose and we mentioned the Gustafson's the boys quickly agreed that their girls were good examples of Jesus and they were so excited to give them their gift and have them over for dinner.

Each family we have chosen has made a lasting impression on our lives. We love them and cherish their friendships. Even as distance and time have made some of our interactions less easy, we still care immensely for each of them and always will. We feel their examples of the Savior have made such an impact in our lives and we hope we can implement in our personal lives and in our family those things that we have seen and learned from each family. We hope that through their examples, our family can become more focused on the Savior.


Angela and Ethan said...

What a fantastic way to focus more on the Savior during the the Christmas season. I want to start this tradition with my family. Thank you for sharing.

The Duke said...

We did this last year due to your influence and loved the experience. We picked a family this year, but due to the father's work schedule, it may not happen until after Christmas.

Matt said...

Those were kind words. I hope you guys understand how much we love and appreciate you guys, and what good examples you are to us still.

You guys will always hold a special place in our hearts. And one day, when mike makes his treadmill-stationary-bike-video-game-contraption-thing-a-ma-bob, I'm going to say, "I was there when he first was working on that." :-)

Merry Christmas. (Hopefully we'll get you a card before May this year. :-)

Lokodi said...

That's a really great idea Adrianne. I might steal it from you. :)


Kristi, Liezl, Quincy, and Josh said...

Thank you for a wonderful night and for your friendship. It really means so much to me. You are a great example. My girls had the time of their life - they always do with your boys.

Jess and Jason said...

I am glad that you have had so many wonderful people touch your lives. Not living near family makes those types of friends that much more important. I hope that the coming years bring more and more of those friends!

Cali said...

That is a really neat tradition. I love how you really seek out the good in others, Adrianne. I love hearing about the attributes you admired in the friends you shared your dinners with. Thank you for reminding me to look for the good in others. What a wonderful tradition you have...I may just have to steal it.