Winter is upon us.  It is a gift of nature.  The kind of gift we sometimes would like to refuse.  It brings with it early darkness, chilly days, high electric bills, and flu season.  So who would want a gift like that?  There have been many times I have wished Winter could just pass us by and many times I have said that I should move to a place that is perpetually warm.  So, it is no secret that Winter is my least favorite season. Sometimes, due to the cold dreary days and early nights, I get downright depressed.

It got really bad for me two years ago when we had a skunk invade our home and all of my soft furniture, beds, blankets and area rugs, had to be thrown out.  We were left with only the hard furniture like tables and chairs and there was nothing warm and inviting to come home to. So, you can imagine how bleak that winter appeared to me.  Two years ago, I wrote about it for this column in which I shared the story of how my husband gave me back the Christmas Spirit.

Last year, I was so grateful to have some of my house restored to its pre-skunk state that I almost enjoyed the cold days and early nights.  Every night I took comfort by a roaring fireplace on a soft comfy couch with a warm blanket over my legs as I sipped on a hot beverage.

Which brings me to this year.  The first sign of a cold wet dreary day triggered the old feeling of dread as I knew Winter was around the corner.  Then the time change occurred, causing the daylight hours to shorten and it solidified my desire to want to move to a warmer, sunnier place.  But all that changed.

To explain to you what the catalyst was to create this change in me, I must share with you a recent mysterious event in my life.

Approximately ten months ago, I was approached via e-mail by a casual friend of mine who was trying to recruit me to work for the same company she worked for.  To make a long story short, I was not interested.  However, my friend persisted and made me a personal visit.  I was still not interested, as I was very happy doing what I was doing.

Two months earlier, I was offered another similar job by someone else in my life and quickly turned it down.  But now, with two completely unsolicited job offers put in my path, I thought there might be more to this whole job thing.  So, with much skepticism, I went to hear about the job my friend was trying to recruit me for.

shows the Holston Home gate decked out with Christmas lights

As I entered through the gate and drove around the grounds to go to the building where the interview was, I remember thinking how odd it would be to work there.  I recall thinking this is a waste of my time and theirs.  However, I made a promise to my friend and the appointment had already been made, so I followed through.

As they interviewed me, I interviewed them.  Why would I change careers when I’m successful in what I am doing?  They had me when they told me I could help inspire children.

If you follow this column, you know I started writing to fulfill a desire to inspire people, as I feel it is a calling given to me from a Higher Power.  So now I am being offered a job that could help influence children in a positive way.  Much like Winter, this job was a “gift” I did not want to receive but now there was no way to turn it down.

I started two weeks after that fateful interview, and, with starting the job, I have had to make changes to my life that I never would have made, nor did I want to make.  But, every change or sacrifice I have made has come back to me with blessings tenfold.

Which brings us to now- Winter!  It is still cold, wet, dark and dreary.  But, this Winter, and for many Winters to come, I have a secret weapon to brighten my world.  This Winter I have Holston Home For Children.
Right here in our very own backyard, we have a magical place of love and acceptance for some that have been lost in the shuffle of life.  Some lost due to their own choices, and others to no fault of their own.

Nothing exemplifies this love more than Christmastime at Holston Home.  I want to say that I have had some amazing and beautiful Christmas experiences, but, this one tops the tree!

For months, people work to transform Holston Home into a Winter Wonderland with lights and decorations.  The Holston Elves spend countless hours filling enormous stockings for the families of the children and spend even more time making sure the children have the best Christmas they could.

Everything from a Dickens novel is thought of and executed, from hot chocolate and a holiday turkey, to gifts and many Christmas gatherings.  In fact, so many Christmas festivities go on that I do not have space in this column to name them all.

What they achieve during this time of year is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.  Edna Ferber said,  “Christmas isn’t a season, it is a feeling.”  I know for me I will never forget the feeling I got when I walked into the school’s gymnasium for the first time after it had been transformed into an amazing Winter Wonderland.  It was nothing short of spectacular, which is saying a lot coming from this 51 year-old jaded writer who has seen some beautiful Christmases.  So, I can only imagine what feeling it left the children with.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”- Norman Vincent Peale

One night, after one of the bigger Christmas events, I was leaving through the same gate I entered months earlier.  This time, I went through the gate and thanked God for giving me the unwanted gifts of Winter and  Holston Home.  I came to Holston Home in hopes of inspiring the children, but, if truth be known, I have received far more than I have given.  Together, Winter and Holston Home have truly given me a Winter Wonderland.  Life is mysterious.  

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