I never thought that I’d spend Christmas being homeless…
But last year was one of the most difficult years that my family and I have ever had to go through because we spent six months without a home. We had been living with my father in a very small two-bedroom apartment, but his lease expired and his new apartment was too small for all six of us. We tried to take over a new lease of his old apartment, but it fell through.
I was freaking out. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a place to live. What would my husband and I do? There was no way we could live out of a car with a six month old baby and two other children, and the shelter we visited was full and had no place for us to go.
We ended up in a hotel while trying desperately to find a new home, but it was difficult to find an affordable place that would accept us.
One month turned into two, then two into three. I had lost all hope of finding a new place before Christmas. Before we knew it, June had turned into December and Christmas was right around the corner.
I knew in my heart that Christmas was going to be different because we weren’t going to have a house of our own, and couldn’t have all the things that really made it feel like Christmas. No Christmas tree, no stockings, no lights to hang outside, no presents under the tree for my kids to open on Christmas Day.
Christmas 2014 came and went, and honestly that year we felt pretty defeated.
But soon after, God did provide just as I thought He would. We had been praying hard for a Christmas miracle, and on December 28th 2014, we finally found our own apartment.
This Christmas we will celebrate in our own place that we have had for almost a year now. We were able to get a Christmas tree and stockings for the kids and all the things that we didn’t have last year.
But this year, it means so much more.
Until being homeless I had taken for granted the little things like good food, gifts, and decorations. When we were homeless, something as little as cooking a meal wasn’t possible. Instead we ate sandwiches and chips or ordered pizza. We didn’t have a washer or dryer, and all five of us were crammed into one room with nothing but two king sized beds and a mini fridge. My son had to endure the humiliation of being picked up on the bus and having his peers see that he lived in a hotel.
But knowing what it was like not to have those little things made me realize how blessed I was to have what mattered most: my faith and my family. We were grateful to have a roof over our heads, and we were grateful to have each other, but that hotel was not the same as having our own place to call home.
So this Christmas, I invite you to join our family in taking the time to appreciate the people and things that you do have–a warm meal, stockings on the fireplace, a tree with lights. And even more, seek out people that you might know who are going through a rough time this year. Maybe go out of your way to make their Christmas better and remember to be grateful for the little things that you have because there are always people out there who are going through their Christmas of 2014.
Photography: Flickr/ Brett Kiger