Updated: 12/25/2013 10:55 PM
Created: 12/25/2013 9:14 PM KAALtv.com
By: Sean Boswell
(ABC 6 News) -- Wednesday marked the 16th year a local family gathered community members to remember a loved one who died in a motorcycle crash in 1998.
"It was always for our son," said Gladys Bliss, mother of Peter, who died at age 32.
“We didn't know how to celebrate the holidays without him," said Peter’s older sister, Valerie Kruger.
Kruger says every time the family gets together, there isn't some memory of Peter that doesn't come up.
"We were just grieving and we didn't even want to acknowledge it was Christmas, it was just very hard," said Bliss.
The family started the event paying for everything out of their own pockets. The first gathering was at the local senior center, and had 90 people. They now have some help paying for the event, as the community dinner has grown immensely over the years.
"The first years we did it on our own, we decided to give up gift giving and put the money toward the dinner," said Bliss.
The event has been at St. Olaf Lutheran church for the past 12 years. Anyone and everyone are invited to come.
"We decided to do this as a means of giving people who didn't have any other place to go at Christmas, to be together, with us, to help us through our grieving process," said Kruger.
Everyone who walks in can see Peter's picture, knowing that the dinner is all in tribute to him.
"What can we do to make it easier for the family and take our mind off our loss," said Bliss.
It’s a loss that certainly won't be forgotten by anyone, and a reminder to be safe during the holiday season.