Terry Kraft and his company, Christmas Décor of Roswell, spent most of the Dec. 3 workday making sure that Carey Marinelli and her three young children will see plenty of Christmas cheer around them even though their husband and father, Maj. Jason Marinelli, is in Afghanistan with his Army unit in the National Guard.
“It’s not the most spectacular house in the neighborhood, but I think it is tastefully done, yet stellar enough in how it looks to enchant the kids,” said Kraft, who did the entire job at no cost to the family.
“There’s a 60-foot tree in the front yard and we put around 4,000 red, blue green and amber energy-efficient LED mini lights on it. We did the whole roof in larger LED lights and put stake lights in the yard,” he said.
The household already had three inflatables and the company put one, Santa and a helicopter, on the roof with a special timer so it will always be inflated when the kids come home from school at 2 p.m. The lights come on at dusk. “It looks fantastic,” Carey Marinelli said.
“The kids are really excited. The best thing is the huge tree. It’s awesome. People all over the neighborhood say they can see it from their houses at night.”
Every year, Kraft has decorated a local military family’s home for free but this year didn’t have a candidate until he saw an email nominating the Marinelli family for the decorations.
Jennifer Beilstein was responding to a story in this newspaper asking for candidates. She wrote that her sister, brother-in-law and their children spent last Christmas in a hotel while they relocated from Phoenix to California for Marinelli’s job with an aerospace company.
“In April of this year, just a few months after settling into their rental home outside of Los Angeles, Jason received orders to be deployed for over a year. In June they packed everything back up and placed it all in storage in California including all their Christmas stuff and relocated again in just six months to Roswell to be closer to family while Jason is away,” she wrote.
Marinelli, who commands a team of 12, just arrived in Afghanistan a few weeks ago after being state side for several months of training. He mentors and trains Afghan security forces.
All of their Christmas decorations are packed up in storage for the next year in California, Beilstein said. This is the second holiday that the three children — Lucas, 7, Cooper, 5, and Avery, 22 months — have been displaced. This year, to top it off, they are without their dad. “I actually was pretty tearful when we got the call” from Kraft, Carey Marinelli said. “It’s nice to know that people care so much about military families. This was a big deal for the kids.”
Her husband’s first response when she relayed the news? “He said, you’ve got to be kidding. He was so surprised.”
Kraft said he never liked the phrase “giving back, but he believes in the principle.
“I do OK. I made it through the recession. I’m not making as much money as I used to but I can still pay my employees, put my kids through college and the lights are still on. I want to do something for other people,” he said.