We’re sharing a little sparkle holiday home tour as we team up for the Christmas Home Tour Blog Hop hosted by Cindy of Cloches and Lavender.
If you’re coming over from Cindy’s blog, welcome we’re excited to have you here!
About 15 years ago, my Mom was standing in the kitchen stirring a pot of field peas. It was Christmas Eve, and she was putting the finishing touches on a meal she had planned for weeks.
As per her usual, half the menu was filled with comforting farm food, and the other half filled with recipes she’d clipped out of her favorite magazines.
My sisters and I were putting ice in stemmed glasses carefully making sure each place setting had silverware when the phone rang.
“Are you sure?… I understand… Yes, I’m still here…We’re on our way,” was all we heard my Mom say as tears were streaming down her face.
We immediately rushed into the kitchen where she was sobbing as she hung up the phone.
“My Dad had a stroke. The doctors say he’s also been temporarily blinded. They’re all headed to the hospital. I’m so sorry girls but I feel like I should be there too,” she said.
My parents quickly packed an overnight bag. Moments later, my sisters and I huddled together as my Dad helped my Mom into the car to make the 2-hour drive.
She was still crying convinced she’d ruined our Christmas. We assured my Mom we were fine, that we’d lock up and meet her at the hospital.
An unexpected blessing of that moment as we watched my parents pull out of the driveway was that my Mom never smelled the pot of peas she’d left burning on the stove.
Yet thanks to the quick action of my brother-in-law, our house was saved from what could have been a devastating fire.
About an hour later, my Dad called to advise us to take the backroads so we would avoid Christmas Eve traffic.
Then in a very calm voice, he said, “I’m not giving you permission to speed. I just want to let you know the winds are picking up and you need to carefully get here as fast as you can.”
The not so ironic thing was that we were already on the backroads, our path to the hospital lit with a million tiny sparkling stars and the brightest full moon I’d ever seen.
We got into town just before 10 pm where thankfully my Dad had secured the last available beds in a hotel close to the hospital.
Naturally, we were all starving because we’d missed dinner. So, my brothers-in-law road up and down the streets trying to find a place still open on Christmas Eve.
They finally spotted a convenience store attached to a sandwich shop. It was so shady on the outside my sisters and I were hesitant to even get out of the car.
But it was our only option.
As we walked up to the door, a young girl in a red Santa hat met us with a tense look on her face. “I’m sorry y’all we’re about to close for the night. It’s Christmas Eve and I have a family to get home to too.”
My brother-in-law quickly explained the situation and we watched her face soften ever so slightly. “I’ve got 2 foot-longs left. You can run next door for chips and a drink. It’s not much but it’s the best I can do.”
We thanked her for her kindness, and as she locked the door behind us she said, “I know firsthand how tough situations like these can be. I hope your grandpa is going to be ok.”
By that point, the winds were really starting to pick up and we knew a Christmas storm was coming.
We ate on the way to the hospital, and we as pulled into the ER entrance, we could see my Dad waiting for us behind the sliding glass doors.
“The nurses said you can go up, but you can’t stay long. He won’t be able to see you, but he’ll know you’re there. Your Mom will be up there too,” he said.
The room was mostly dark save for a small lamp in the corner. My Mom, her sisters, brothers, and their families quietly walked over to hug us as we opened the door.
I don’t know how to explain it, but that night as we entered the hospital room, my entire family must have walked through a supernatural veil of grace because we saw my grandfather in a completely different light.
Gone were the decades of hurts he’d caused for making poor choices, for the wrongs he’d committed and never found time to make right, for the things he’d said and never sought forgiveness, and for failing to show up as a husband, father, and grandfather in the way he’d been commissioned time and time again.
Instead, we felt a compassion I didn’t know existed, a mercy I didn’t think was possible and a peace I could have never imagined.
While my grandfather was still temporarily blind from the stroke, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he could still feel the love and light in the hospital room that Christmas Eve night because it was a turning point for our family.
Around midnight, one of the nurses came to the door to tell us they were getting ready to shut the unit down.
We hugged each other tight and said our goodbyes as we headed to the hotel. The rest of my family headed back to our hometown.
By this time, the streetlights were already swaying in the wind and we knew the Christmas storm was imminent.
My Dad checked us into the hotel, and we settled in for the night.
30 minutes later we lost power.
5 minutes after that, a rare Christmas tornado cut a path between the hotel and the hospital.
At first light, we opened the curtains to survey the damage. The parking lot was littered with debris, downed trees, and powerlines.
But the hotel was still intact and so was most of the cars in the parking lot.
My Dad stepped outside to retrieve something from the car when he noticed a tiny ball of folded white towels placed at each door.
Tucked inside was a small candy cane with a note that read, “We are running on a generator with limited power. There is no hot water. The lobby will still be open and available to you though.”
A few minutes later, my parents knocked on our door to check on us. We were shocked to see three gifts in my Mom’s hands.
“It’s not much but I wanted you to feel like you had a Christmas this year,” she cried as she handed us the packages. “They were the only 3 presents I was able to grab before we left. Thank you for being here. I promise we’ll make it up to you.”
Inside was a pair of Christmas pajamas.
The same set of threadbare Christmas pajamas, I’m wearing as I write this post.
As we prepared to leave the hotel, we walked out through the lobby one last time. A mostly sterile gray room had magically given way to swaths of reds and golds.
An unlit tree sat in the corner with bands of sparkling gold garlands and ornaments made from air fresheners hung from the branches.
The ceiling was dotted with red fans donning gold tassels, and red balls that looked like paper lanterns.
Big boxes of honey buns, peanuts, cheese crackers, and candy bars had been torn opened and bottles of water set out.
The family that ran the hotel didn’t look like us. They didn’t sound like us and from the looks of their makeshift holiday decorations, I’m pretty sure they didn’t celebrate Christmas either.
But they excitedly brought us over to the snacks and said, “For you. Merry Christmas.”
It was incredibly kind and generous.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed my grandfather went on to make a complete recovery. He died a few years later, fully reconciled with almost our entire family.
To this day, I can’t remember a single present we opened that Christmas save for the matching pajamas.
I remember those seemingly small acts of kindness like it was yesterday though…
…the quick action of my brother-in-law saving our home from a potentially devastating fire…a million stars to light our way…the gift of compassion from the young girl who sold us her last two sandwiches…the nurses who let us stay past visiting hours…a safe place to fall asleep…protection from the tornado…a family who didn’t look like us gathering everything they could find to make our Christmas bright…and a veil of grace that changed everything.
Tiny bits of sparkle, gifts of hope, we never even knew we needed, yet there at the exact moment, we needed them most.
I know we’ve all been through a lot these past few years.
There are some of you who are weary, exhausted, and need a break. There are others who are summoning supernatural strength to create a magical Christmas experience for those you love.
No matter where this holiday season finds you, I pray your road to Christmas is lit with a million sparkling stars and unexpected gifts bring you true joy, love, forgiveness, grace, and peace when you need it most.
Up next on the Christmas Home Tour Blog Hop, is Corine from Junk to Gems. Can you even with this gorgeous porch!
Once you’re finished there be sure to stop by and see what Cindy is sharing from Cloches and Lavender. I’ve seen a preview of her French Country holiday home and it’s so pretty!Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.