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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grandson keeps tradition going

Friday, December 22, 2006

After telling Charlie Brown about baby Jesus and the Nativity, Linus Van Pelt in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" said, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Recognizing the birth of Christ is just one example of the true meaning of Christmas for many people. For others it might be spending the holiday season with friends and family or helping those in need. But for one family in Roachdale, the true meaning of Christmas is remembering a departed loved one.

Many residents of Roachdale might know the home of Jean Perkins and her late husband Jim, at 403 E. Columbia St. Many children have named it "The Gingerbread House."

According to Jean, Jim started decorating the couples' home when they first moved in 49 years ago. And it has been growing ever since.

Jean said at first Jim decorated the outside of the house and the bushes in the front yard, but then he added lights around the entire house, the windows and the walkway. He even later added light-up Santas, one of which was placed inside the chimney.

Jean's daughter Cindy Castille said that when her father decorated the house for Christmas, it looked like Candyland.

Castille's son Jordan Almanza told the BannerGraphic Friday that he had always wanted to put lights like his grandfather's up at his house, but he did not have the yard for it. So Almanza started helping Jim decorate "The Gingerbread House" during the last years of Jim's life.

Last year, Jim entered the hospital around Christmas time due to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease in which the lungs are damaged, making it hard to breathe. Jim died on Jan. 25 of this year.

Jean said that when November rolled around, Almanza asked her if he could decorate the house like his grandfather did. She also said Almanza told her he wanted to put a sign up, but he did not know what he wanted it to say.

Almanza decorated "The Gingerbread House" before Thanksgiving by using a combination of Jim and Castille's lights. Castille said people kept asking her son what he was going to put on the sign, but she knew exactly what he was going do.

On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Jean said her grandson made up his mind as to what the sign should say.

Almanza wanted the sign to say, "In loving memory of grandpa."

"He loved his grandpa, and that's why he did it," Jean said in reference to why Almanza decorated the house.

Jean also said that many people have commented on how beautiful the yard looks. People have also commented on how proud Jim would be of his grandson and how Almanza did such a good job.

Castille told the BannerGraphic that she had received a Christmas card from a friend who commented on her parents' yard. The friend had said, "If your dad could only see."

So for this family, good old Linus has it right. "That's what Christmas is all about."

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