Open Your Home and Your Heart on Christmas

This edition is to encourage everyone to open your home and your heart this Christmas to someone who needs a place to share in the joy of the season. Someone recently said to me “Christmas is about family.”  I respectfully say yes it is about family but also much more!!

Here is the story of how The Gray family did this for me and my 4-year old son. It was the second Christmas after my divorce.  Johnathan was supposed to be with his Dad this year. On Christmas Eve morning, I received a call that his Dad would not be coming for our son.  What?!  I was not prepared for this.  I learned to always have a backup plan.

Bob and Ann Gray

I called my best friend Melinda in a panic, what was I going to do?  She called me right back to say that her parents would love to have us join them.  I packed up Johnathan and drove across town to the home of Bob and Ann Gray.  All of their children were in their 20’s so they were not ready for children or Santa. To my surprise, everyone in the house was preparing for our arrival.

This happened 27 year ago, so I may have some of the people in the wrong place but the activities are still very clear in my mind as well as the feeling of love in my heart.  Ann and Melinda’s Grandmother were in the kitchen baking cookies, treats and delicious meals.  Bob had pulled out several holiday books including “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The family watched Johnathan so that I could rush to the store for gifts.

When I returned , Johnathan was helping to fill paper bags with votive candles along the front walk and street. He had already eaten several of Ann’s yummy treats.  He was very animated telling me what they had been doing  to prepare for Santa’s arrival.

I wish I had a photo of these next two memories but I don’t. Bob was wearing his reading glasses with Johnathan on his lap lovingly reading holiday stories.  He had a great voice and was very animated as he read.  My son was engrossed in his every word.  Later that night, Ann helped with the plate of goodies for Santa and his reindeer.

Melinda helped me to beautifully wrap a large art easel in gold paper with a huge red bow.  It would be the largest gift under the tree!  Everyone helped with the stockings.

The look on Johnathan’s face was priceless when he walked into the living room and saw that the large red-bowed package was for him!  Santa really came!!!!  He was literally pushing their grandmother into the living room so that the gifts could be opened. Johnathan was so proud to hand out the gifts. We were so full of joy and happiness.

That night as I feel asleep, I shed a few tears of gratitude and appreciation.  Without hesitation, the Gray family had welcomed a struggling single Mom and her son into their home and into their hearts to make this a very special day. Bob and Ann are now in heaven with the Lord.  I hope they knew what an impact they made on us and that I have never forgotten their generosity and kindness. To Melinda, Scott, David and Mike – thank you for sharing your family with us!  These are fond memories that I will always cherish. 

Since that year,  I have often invited people who don’t have family nearby into my home and my heart to celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is one small way that I can pay forward the generosity bestowed on us by the Gray family.  So, I respectfully say to this person, Christmas is about family but it is also about welcoming friends, who would otherwise be alone, to share the joy of the season. On this special day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,  I am sure this is what God would want from us.

I’d love to hear your stories about opening your homes and hearts for the holidays or when you were blessed with this gift of love.  I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

….. And life goes on. 




  1. Joyce Marckley | 12th Dec 16

    We have always had extra people in our home. The kids down the street and from the teens in PDAP and now from Assistant living house! It’s in my family’s DNA.

  2. Cathie Hess | 12th Dec 16

    I have been an “orphan” in your home many times. I recall a Christmas I was able to make Christmas cookies with you and Meghan, a wonderful memory. Somehow Santa knew I would be at your house for Christmas and he left gifts for me there. Memories I will never forget, I am forever grateful for your friendship and hospitality. I love you and miss you Shelly!

  3. Alison | 17th Dec 16

    What a wonderful post, Shelly you are amazing! Speaking as a foreigner, I have to say in my 25 years living in America I have been invited once to Christmas Day in someone’s home. That was in Arkansas, a whole different planet to the rest of America. “All about family” is an American tradition, but what I want to ask is – how would YOU like to be told to go to your room and don’t come out while we celebrate your birthday without you? It isn’t all about family.

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