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The Jerry and Tanya Hansen

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12/01/2010 - By Gayle Irwin

From extended family to church family, love and togetherness are important to Jerry and Tanya Hansen, and the holidays bring those components together in a festive, devoted way.

The Hansens plan to host 25 to 30 family members this Christmas. Traditionally, Jerry and Tanya host either Christmas or Thanksgiving, warmly welcoming their loved ones into their home. While many people would dread and stress about such a congregation, large gatherings are an integral part of the Hansen's life.

Nearly 300 people attended the couple's wedding nearly 11 years ago, Tanya said, and family reunions often bring hundreds. The couple's children, 6-year-old Spencer and 9-year-old Elizabeth, also enjoy large, family gatherings.

"They are used to a big family," Tanya said. "When Spencer asked how many would be at Thanksgiving (in New Mexico this year with other family members), and I told him 'six or seven', he asked, 'Is that all?!'"

Family is vitally important, husband and wife concurred.

"We spend a lot of time with our kids," Jerry said. "They are our focus, and they absolutely are Tanya's focus."

"Whether it's extended family or our children, family is important to us," Tanya agreed.

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That family membership includes two dogs: 13-year-old Zorro, a border collie, and 2-year-old Krissy, a border collie/Australian shepherd cross.

Another important component of the Hansen family is their faith. The Hansens' church family, Prince of Peace Lutheran, has also played an integral part in their lives. Jerry and Tanya were married in the church, Spencer attended preschool there, and Tanya now serves as a teacher at the preschool and for a Sunday school class.

Jerry manages the fabrication shop at XL Hardbanding & Fabrication, helping design projects and providing quality customer service, primarily for the oilfield industry, but also for other clients such as restaurants. In addition to work and family, Jerry enjoys skeet shooting and fly-fishing. Tanya's extra activities include a women's bowling league and teaching Sunday School for preschoolers.

The children both attend Pineview Elementary where Spencer is a kindergartner and Elizabeth is in third grade. Spencer was excited to begin elementary school this year, his mother noted.

"He loves it!" He was ready!" she stated.

The children also enjoy extra activities. Elizabeth is involved with Beautiful Feet Dance School and also enjoys reading. Spencer's enjoyment is games, "any games," Jerry said, from sports to video games. The youngster is also involved in Ti Kwan Do.

The Hansens have made Casper their home since they met more than 11 years ago. Originally from Newcastle, Jerry met Tanya through a mutual acquaintance who was moving. Tanya had come to Casper from her native Lander to attend college.

"She was one of two girls moving into this apartment…I called her four days later for a date," he said.

They continue making Casper their home for several reasons.

"The biggest thing is the work," Jerry said, "but it's also between our families in Newcastle and Lander. Plus, Casper is big enough to draw attractions, but it's not too big."

"It's our home," Tanya added. "It's where we met, where our kids go to school…it's home."

As Tanya, Jerry and their children prepare to celebrate Christmas, a great deal of activity and preparation looms. However, anxiety or being overwhelmed doesn't appear to be in the mix; instead of dread, joy and warmth echo in their voices in anticipation of another holiday shared with the people who know them best and those with whom they enjoy sharing so much of their lives.

"Family – that's what's important to us," Jerry affirmed.

Christmas shared with family, creating and sharing memories, laughter, and affection – just as this special holiday should be!

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