Christmas Without Fire

Northwest  |  January 25, 2019
Author: Zhang Jin Bao (Zhu Bin) / Photo: Liao Qiong Yu

She sat at the Disaster Relief Center, anxiously. The volunteer said if everything went well, she could come back for the gift card before Thanksgiving.

She looked at her two kids who were playing beside her, and thought to herself, “What should I tell the children?” Thanksgiving was around the corner, but the wildfire had taken 6 members of the family. “How will we celebrate a holiday,” she thought. Several houses next to the town of Paradise were burned to the ground in ashes. In the past few days, the surviving family members have been huddled together in temporary shelters near Paradise. In the cold autumn, I pondered where the joy and laughter of Thanksgiving has gone.

That day was like a nightmare. The forest fire burned angrily. She and her family who lived close to the forest hopped into their cars, and fled from the homes and memories they would never see again. They kept driving and driving, never turning back. But the cars were too slow and the fire was catching up fast. Not long after, two cars couldn’t keep up anymore. They fell behind, falling further and further away, and soon vanished in the rear mirror. They were soon swallowed by the flames and turned to ashes in the overwhelming wildfire, at the city of Paradise.

Weeks went by as Thanksgiving passed and Christmas was around the corner. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t, want to think about the surviving family sitting by the fireplace, with Christmas lights shining through the Christmas tree after enduring such a tragedy. Now her one year old daughter is frightened from even a tiny bit of flame. She couldn’t help but ask herself, “Will we be able to have a happy Christmas?”

Where will this year’s Christmas be?

When the cold winter approaches this year, she just wants to have a Christmas with no fire.

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