Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christ-Centered Christmas Dinner

Our traditional Christ Centered Christmas Dinner took place twice this year.  Sometimes we can't choose between a couple of families so we invite them both over.  This year we decided to invite two families but thought that if we have two separate dinners each family could have individual attention. We invited the Cruze family for our first dinner.  We had sausage tortillini soup, hot rolls, and salad.  For dessert we ate birthday cake (it was Piper's birthday) for the kids and turtle cheesecake pie for the adults.  I decorated with greenery from our trees outside, spray painted some twigs and had Will cut out snowflakes to hang overhead.  For the gifts this year we gave each family the book Papa Panov's Special Day and an ornament that we made.  We buy an ornament each year to put on our little tree with the family's name that we invite over and this year we decided we wanted to give each family an ornament as well.  We also identified something in particular that we recognized about each family that was a Christ-like attribute.  For the Cruze's we decided on Happiness.  The Cruze family makes everyone feel happy when they are around them.  Their children are happy, quirky, and funny and the parents are also funny and happy.  I have never been around any member of their family and not come away feeling happier.  You can feel the love they have for one another and the genuine concern they have for everyone.

The second dinner was for the Copeland's.  The attribute we chose for the Copeland's was generosity.  I am constantly amazed at the way the Copeland's are always offering so much of themselves.  They both serve in busy callings in our ward (Primary Presidency and Young Men's President) and give so much of their time to helping our ward run smoothly.  They are regularly involved in serving those around them.  I love the way they have committed to go to a local assisted living center with their children on a regular basis.  Along with the time they offer the ward and community through service, they also are incredibly generous with their money.  Our family has been invited to multiple outings by the Copeland's and they always insist on paying.  We have enjoyed Dollywood, roller skating, the pumpkin patch, and The Melting Pot, just to name a few.  It has been so fun for our family to discover new places and things in Tennessee because of the generosity of the Copeland's in inviting our family to tag along.  This year at the pumpkin patch they invited our family along with ten other families and they foot the entire bill!  I have found a great friend in Crystal who has had a listening ear and understanding heart on multiple occasions.  Crystal has gone through many experiences in her life that has given her the ability to empathize and have compassion for others going through difficult times.  We started our business because of the Copelands.  Their encouragement and advice has helped us to have confidence that we could be successful in running a business and they are regularly doing things that will help us along the way.

I truly love this tradition and even though it is stressful to plan and prepare a special dinner (or two) each year, I feel like it is an important tradition for our family to have.  I feel incredibly blessed to move around the country and to have met so many people in each place who make my family better through their examples.  I think that starting the Christmas season off by honoring various families for their Christ-like example reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas and how the influence of Christ in our lives makes us better people.  I hope this is a tradition the boys always remember.  

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