For first-time homeowners, the first year of homeownership is comprised of special moments: move-in day, barbecues, birthdays and, of course, holidays.

A woman cheersThe celebration possibilities seem endless for homeowner Tifton and her three children. They may host their first holiday meal, hang lights outside, or decorate their new home with holiday items.

One tradition that won’t be forgotten this year, however: singing happy birthday to Jesus with a cake. The cake flavor has changed year after year, but the sentiment behind the celebration has not. “We remember the reason for the season,” she said.

With her dream of homeownership realized, Tifton just wants to continue celebrating – and pay their blessing forward in some way. “Every day is a holiday in our Habitat house,” she said.A woman celebrates her home's closing with her new keys in hand

For homeowner Jessica, her fiance and her daughter, it will be an extra-special Thanksgiving. She plans to host the meal at her home for the first time. She’s looking forward to some much-needed family time. “We’re just going to fellowship, gather and cook lots of food,” Jessica said.

Holidays tend to make people reflective, Jessica said, adding that she imagined this one would be especially emotional in their first home. “I’m always thankful, but we have so much to be thankful for this year,” she said. “Becoming a homeowner is something I’ve always wanted.”

Homeowner Cameron hopes to host all her children in her new home for Thanksgiving this year – even her son stationed in Hawaii. She’s ready to have her new grandchildren come to “grandma’s house.” “We can actually give thanks to having a home and for all of us to be together,” Cameron said. “To celebrate just having a home itself.”

A woman holds a red stocking outside her homeThe menu has been discussed in depth – with a macaroni and cheese competition planned. A gingerbread house competition is already set for Christmas. “We’re hoping to start a new tradition and just have fun,” Cameron said.

The family will be keeping a longtime tradition later in the holiday season. Over the years, they’ve made ornaments, Christmas cards and other homemade gifts together – treasured keepsakes of family memories.  “We always have to make something with our hands to give each other,” Cameron said.

Overall, the season will be exciting, overwhelming and emotional all at once, Cameron said. Homeownership was a goal she and her late husband sought after. Coupled with another recent loss, she knows she will have to push through some grief.

“I cannot allow grieving to stop me from living,” Cameron said. “To celebrate and look at what I did. This is where I’m living and this is where I’m planting my roots.”

We wish ALL of our local first-time homeowners a happy holiday season!

Give the gift of home for the holidays by getting involved with Habitat Orlando & Osceola. Every dollar or hour you spend on us helps to build safe, affordable housing for members of your community.