Freedom. It’s something many of us take for granted. In today’s world, it is easy to feel discouraged and hopeless at times. Just turning on the news can be emotionally draining, but spending Christmas in Meriden, Connecticut reminded me of how far we have come.
It had been over 10 years since I spent Christmas in New York with my family. When I found out we were going to live on the East Coast, I knew Christmas was a holiday I didn’t want to miss. My aunt hosted this year and it was a Christmas to remember. A day filled with soulful Christmas music, lots of laughs, classic family dishes, a white elephant gift swap and a friendly battle of who was the best cook in the family. It had been a long time since we were together under one roof and it felt so good.
The house was filled with love. I refer to my aunt’s home as a special gem off the beaten path…
The house is part of an estate with 2 other homes nestled atop a quaint little hill in Meriden, Connecticut. The homes were established in 1810, 1910 and 1912. The history of the estate is what makes this a special place. The property was a part of the underground railroad (for more information on the underground railroad click here).
This safe house functioned as a place for slaves to escape into the free states with aid of abolitionists and allies. The freed slaves worked in the home as servants. At the time, they did not have the means or education to do anything other than domestic duties.The house has two of the original apple trees, the servant call box, laundry shoot, and many hidden stairways and doorways.
Every time I step foot in their home I’m blown away by the beauty and am reminded of the sacrifices that were made in order for us to be free today. I feel the joy of the 100,000 freed slaves every time I visit this special place.
There’s something really special and empowering about the home now being owned by an African American couple, my own aunt and uncle at that. At this one address there have been monumental moments that have taken place.The home went from hiding slaves, to then being cared for by servants, to now being owned by my aunt who is a high ranking political appointee and my uncle who is highly ranked in the military. They are pillars in their community and are the sweetest and warmest people you will ever meet. They have filled this home with such love and light. You can immediately feel it as soon as you open the front door.
A quick trip to Connecticut put everything back into perspective. On my drive back home, I almost had a tear in my eye when I sat back and thought about how grateful I am to have my family and my freedom; I felt nothing but gratitude.
A reminder to stay humble, grounded and forever thankful.