Military family’s Blaine home decorated for holidays

The Ksepka’s Blaine home sparkles and shines with lively Christmas spirit. Multi-colored lights dance in the night sky, radiating cheer and celebrating the season.

U.S. Army National Guardsman Jon Ksepka arrives home Nov. 15 to a colorful and sparkling holiday surprise – his wife Sarah won a contest to have the house decorated for the holidays as part of Christmas Decor’s Decorated Family contest. Photo by Sue Austreng

Minnesota Army National Guardsman Jon Ksepka arrives home Nov. 15 to a colorful and sparkling holiday surprise – his wife Sarah won a contest to have the house decorated for the holidays as part of Christmas Decor’s Decorated Family contest. Photo by Sue Austreng

The holiday lights and decorations are the prize for Sarah Ksepka’s winning entry in the Decorated Family contest.

“I know (my husband) Jon wants to decorate the yard for Christmas, but his back injury really makes that hard to do, so I entered the contest,” Sarah said.

In the past 10 years, Jon Ksepka has been deployed to Iraq three times with the Minnesota Army National Guard’s 34th MP Company out of Stillwater.

Each time he hit home base in Blaine after a year’s deployment, Ksepka was eager to reconnect with his wife Sarah, to romp and run and laugh and play with his three small children, Samuel, Benjamin and Viola.

And during the holiday season, Jon hoped to decorate the yard with lights and wreaths, a lit garland, and a tree festooned with sparkling colorful lights.

But his back injury while serving in Iraq and the lingering pain that results means the wounded warrior’s activities are abbreviated.

“We usually just do around the garage, but can’t do any more because of Jon’s injury. Just can’t do it,” Sarah said.

And so, when a friend told Sarah about Christmas Decor’s Decorated Family project for military families, she entered the contest, writing an essay and hoping to be chosen as a “decorated family.”

“He does so much and sacrificed so much – and he continues to serve and help soldiers,” Christmas Decor’s Roxanne Dahler said Sarah wrote in her essay.

Sarah’s essay was chosen as the winning entry in the Decorated Family contest and so Dahler, who manages the Coon Rapids Christmas Decor location – one of 300 around the country – sent three men out to Ksepka’s Blaine home the afternoon of Nov. 15.

And the men spent the afternoon installing the holiday decoration display – sure to surprise the unsuspecting military husband/dad who would discover it on his arrival home from work.

“Jon gets home around 7:20 or 7:40 p.m. so it’ll be dark and he’ll see this beautiful display. He’s going to love it,” Sarah said hours before the “big reveal.”

Dahler described the display her Christmas Decor guys installed.

“There’s multi-colored lights on the roof and the windows, a 60-inch lighted wreath, lit garland, a tree. Everything is multi-colored. We knew the kids would love that and that’s what Jon would want,” Dahler said.

And sure enough, when Jon arrived home that evening, Sarah and the kids waiting beneath the sparkling lights, he certainly was surprised – “shell shocked,” as his dad, Michael, put it.

“I know this really means a lot to him. This is just great,” Michael said as his son kissed Sarah, hugged the kids and took it all in.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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