In my last blog post I poked fun at my mom’s compulsion to decorate every last inch of our house for Christmas. Last week, we were all together at my parent’s house and someone brought up the posting. Everybody got a kick out of it – but the one who enjoyed it the most was mom. Of course she tried to say “I’m not as bad as all that,” but it was hard when all around us the house was shedding tinfoil like some great Yuletide dog.
We had gathered to observe our yearly tradition of decorating the tree. When I think back over all those years of Christmas, that day was always one of the highlights. Mom would put on her Sinatra Christmas album, and my dad would call out every few minutes asking us to smile for his camera. As a result, we have hundreds of pictures of me and my siblings hanging decorations, flashing our most cheesy looks of wonder and joy at the camera. We thought it was hilarious. Dad disagreed.
This year, my niece and nephew took our place under the tree. As we sat and watched them, my dad revealed a disturbing family secret. It seems that, late at night after us kids had finished hanging the tree; mom would sneak down and carefully remove all the decorations, re-hanging them in a way that was more aesthetically pleasing. She denied this of course, but even this year, as 6-year old Kaden put a clump of decorations on the same two branches, I saw an uncomfortable twitch in her eye. I wondered how long she would wait after we were gone to make it right.
As much as I enjoy poking fun at my parents’ Christmas idiosyncrasies – I wouldn’t miss it for the world. For years I lived in different states, but I never missed Christmas at home. I remember driving from the airport, recognizing that familiar sickly glow over the distant horizon, and feeling a rush of sublime anticipation. I was going home! If there’s a better feeling, I don’t know what it is.
This year it occurs to me how lucky I was to have a home to return to. A home that protected us from the elements. A home we could decorate for the holidays beyond all bounds of normalcy. What an important part of growing up! When I was young I knew kids who lived in mansions, but as much as I admired their swimming pools and “rumpus rooms”, I wouldn’t have traded our home for a million comic books. It was ours. Some instinctual part of me knew that, and was proud.
When I got older, I had the chance to meet people without homes. It’s always tragic – but the children affected me the most. I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up never knowing where you were going to sleep at night. To have nowhere to go to escape the world and just be safe.
That’s why I’m so proud that some of our sponsors have helped their children’s families build homes. The impact it has on the child and their family is immeasurable. The home will guard them for generations to come. Everyone in the family will have the physical and psychological advantage of knowing they have a safe haven. Each of them will feel a little extra pride knowing they have a place to call their own.
What a wonderful gift. What wonderful sponsors we have! Maybe it’s something we should all consider doing some day. If that’s not possible, we should all take a few minutes this holiday season to recognize how lucky we are to have homes. Those of us who have never been homeless are truly blessed. May we all stay that way for many years to come. Merry Christmas!
Posted on behalf of Garrett Kenyon.