A Merry Kenia Christmas

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Sunday I went to Cardinal Glennon Hospital to visit my niece, Kenia. She is my husband’s cousin’s daughter, which doesn’t make her my niece in American culture but, her mother has the same last name as my husband. (Their parents are siblings on both sides.) That makes them more like siblings than cousins. I realize it’s a bit confusing; she is nonetheless to me, my niece.

I have known Kenia since she was a tiny baby. I first met her and her family when they were living in Las Vegas for a short time in 1997. Kenia has Crouzon’s Snydrome. Her skull fused together prematurely causing abnormal development of the eye sockets and mid-face.

I didn’t become reacquainted with Kenia and her family until I moved to Chicago in 2001. Kenia and her older brother played with my kids like all little cousins do. They all got along really well. My children, like me, see a person’s inner self. Unconditional love truly is blind.

Kenia attends the school for the blind, because of the Crouzon’s Syndrome, her eyesight is very bad. Over the years, Kenia has had major surgery several times to make space for her growing brain. She recently had another surgery in August of this year. Friday, Kenia was admitted to the hospital because of an infection that she contracted while at school.

It is difficult to fight illness this time of year and even more so when you have a brace attached to your head and face and are around other children who may or may not be carrying a simple cold virus.

Kenia’s mother hasn’t worked since the surgery in August. She took a significant reduction in income so that she could be with her daughter. What parent wouldn’t do the same thing?

December 23, one day before their family celebrates Noche Buena, (Christmas Eve) Kenia will be undergoing surgery again, to remove the last bit of equipment from her August operation. This is when the doctors will find out whether the surgery went well and if her skull will hold its new shape. If the surgery didn’t go well, her skull will collapse, crushing her brain and killing her. Kenia will be 15 years old next January. She is scheduled for another surgery next year.

Many times this month, you have seen me say how important it is to give to those less fortunate. In fact, if you’ve been a reader since the beginning, you know I speak about it often. We live in a society where it’s all about, “ME”. People going into debt at Christmas to spoil already spoiled children. Children asking for more and more every year, even when they have too much already. People buying cars that are beyond their means and paychecks. Where does it end? There is nothing wrong in wanting to have nice things; after all you work hard for them, right?

But, what about those who are in need? What about the family who spends their holiday in a hospital room praying for a full recovery? What about the child who hopes to be with her family for Christmas? A child who has asked Santa for her health.

No, Kenia doesn’t believe in Santa but, Kenia and her family wants those things just the same. My husband, children, and I are doing what we can to make sure Kenia has a great Christmas this year. Despite the financial difficulties we also have faced these last three years. If we have to forgo our own Christmas celebrations and sit in a hospital room to make her Christmas special, we will. Because it is the season to give and it won’t feel like Christmas without her.

Many people will throw in a couple of dollars or a handful of coins into a kettle for a stranger to have a Merry Christmas, how about doing the same for my niece? If you’d like to contribute to Kenia’s Merry Christmas you can contact me directly or use the donation button on my blog’s sidebar. All donations ‘For Jens Sake’ receives in December will go directly to Kenia’s Christmas gifts. Thank you all for being loyal readers and may you all spread the joy and magic of Christmas to everyone.

Kenia with her older brother, younger sister, mother in Sept. 2011

This is a rare photo of Kenia since her surgery, she didn’t want to be photographed while wearing the brace.


21 thoughts on “A Merry Kenia Christmas

  1. Ravenmyth says:

    Jen you continue to be an inspriation for those in need…you give from the heart…and you fight for all those who have need of someone to stand for them. This is a sad story of Kenia…yet also a story of courage and hope..never giving up…and taking each day as it comes…with the hope of another tomorrow. You, along wtih Kenia and her family are in my healing prayers…it will be a beautiful Christmas for all of you…because you have the best gift of all…Each Other…Always…xx

  2. sancheeta biswas says:

    Merry Christmas Kenia. we all pray that you get well soon with a success in your upcoming surgery to celebrate your 15th birthday in January.

    i agree with you Jen. how often do we think of those who spend their days of anxiety in hospital rooms while we celebrate the festive moods and spend unreasonably against no good work but just amusement. the urge to share a moment with them can make a big difference in their lives and our worthy realizations towards humanity.

    this is a wake up call. thanks for sharing lovely Kenia with us.

  3. tumultuousjourney says:

    I have spent the last 2 years with different grand kids in the hospital. It is not a wonderful experience, yet we alllearned to appreciate the each other and what we already had. This is a wonderful Post as they always are . Prayers for you and your family, Kenia receives a special prayer for health for Christmas, that may all be together in love.

    Daisy is Jan Neel BTW

  4. Corinne Rodrigues says:

    Jen…I have no words to describe what I felt when I read this…What the family must be going through is difficult for me to imagine. You and your family are very generous and a real inspiration! ♥

  5. rimly says:

    I have no words to express. I still wonder why there is so much disparity in this world. Why some people have more than they need and some dont have enough to survive. You are a real inspiration for the needy Jenni. I hope and pray Kenia is better and enjoys her Christmas at the hospital surrounded by people who love

  6. sulekha says:

    Jenni, I am praying Kenia gets better and has a wonderful Christmas and many more to come. She is surrounded by her loving family and friends and their prayers also will bring in positive vibes and results. God bless.

  7. SJ Klemis says:

    This made me cry. Any kind of surgery for your child is heartbreaking and stressful, yet children seem to take it all in their stride. The courage shown by them is amazing and I can only imagine what Kenia and her family must be going through right now.

    I hope you get your wish to make Kenia’s Christmas an extra special one and that everything goes right for her and the next section of operations.

  8. Mary Hudak-Colllins says:

    Jan, this is such a sad and heartbreaking post. What the family must be going through minute to minute, I don’t even want to imagine. I will certainly keeping her in my prayers, and working on a donation as we speak 🙂 Hope that she has a safe surgery and that the outcome is a positive one. Please keep us updated.

  9. Andy says:

    Jen, it always saddens me when I hear of sickness & ill-health in adults, but it grieves my heart when it comes to children. I’m at a loss for words. Your kindness & generosity will be rewarded ten times over. Kenia has shown much courage & strength. I will hold her & her family in my prayers for her good health.
    Thanks for sharing this touching story.

  10. Jessica Brant says:


    Such a heart touching post…. kenia has such strength and courage she is also luck to have such a loving, caring and devoted Aunt. Blessings to Kenia and a speedy recovery to her… Merry Christmas to all sending you love and healing light



  11. Janaki Nagaraj says:

    Kenia…Happy Christmas and prayers. Wishing you well, you are brave and strong to be going through so much since birth. You are an inspiration to many.


  12. Tameka Mullins says:

    What a beautiful young lady! Merry Christmas Kenia! Jenni, this post touched me very much. I wish I could afford to donate something, but in lieu of that, I will say a prayer for Kenia and her family. I pray that her surgery is successful and that she gets stronger and stronger each day that passes. I will also pray for you and your family so that you will remain the strong, caring and giving people that you are.

    Hugs, prayers and blessings!


Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare. -Voltaire

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