SideLines: The wonders of my magic house

It may not look like it from the outside, but I live in a magic house.

No matter where I go – to work or running errands or whatever I have to do – the house is always there, waiting for me. It’s always patient and never judgmental. If I’ve had a bad day, it’s there to comfort me. If something great happens, it’s there to share in my jubilation, like when the Bears won the Super Bowl many years ago. When it’s raining or snowing, my house will shield me, keeping me dry. It also keeps me safe.

During the summer, on really hot, humid days, I can flip a switch and the house will cool off. On those long winter nights, when the temperatures dip below freezing, I can flip the same switch in another direction and the house will warm up.

There are other magical buttons and knobs in my house. There’s one button I can push and find out what’s going on all over the world, even in places I’ve never heard of and will never see. That same button could also help me keep up with the Kardashians, although I’ve never wanted to. I also have a knob that fills the house with some of the most glorious music I have ever heard.

There are other switches that illuminate the inside of my magic house with light so I can see what I’m doing.

In one room is a rectangular box where I can store cold food safely. Next to it are machines that, with the turn of a knob or the push of a button, will warm up or even cook the cold food.

Strategically located in this room and another are handles which I can pull one way and get hot water; pull the other and it produces cold water. Amazingly, I can get as much water as I need to drink and wash and cook and bathe.

In larger rooms, I have chairs and a sofa and a bed where I can sleep, under clean sheets and warm blankets, without fear.

It’s a simply amazing place, this magic house of mine. It may not be as big as other houses, but it’s big – and magical – enough for me.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a magic house or apartment or mobile home to live in.

Nov. 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The week before Thanksgiving, a number of groups will take part in this effort to address these two problems that face millions of people – many of whom are newly affected on the East Coast. According to a recent study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were 636,017 homeless people in the United States in 2011, including 67,495 homeless veterans.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be homeless, to live in a shelter or a car or simply on the street, and I hope I never find out. I heard of a family in Rochelle that was living in a car last Christmas with a 3-month-old baby. The parents, who were unemployed, didn’t have any family in the area. Fortunately, someone found them a place to live and the husband a job. I’m also fortunate enough that I can’t imagine what it’s like to be truly hungry and not know where my next meal is coming from.

Homelessness and hunger are two things I didn’t hear too much about in last week’s election, although I have heard Jay Leno crack jokes about people living in cars. (To someone who has as many cars as he does, I guess it’s funny.) These issues are not glamorous and they make people uncomfortable. But they do exist. To find out more about homelessness, go to

There are a lot of great places in the area doing what they can to combat hunger and homelessness. (I won’t name them, because I’ll invariably leave out someone.)  It would be nice to remember them this week, and to offer any support one can. They definitely need it.

Today, I live in a magic house. But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

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