Christmas Tree Incident

Fire has never really been my thing, you know? Unlike my cousin, who could be a certifiable pyromaniac. I mean, I have always somewhat expected something like this to happen, but I guess I never really thought about the how part of the deal. And I certainly never expected it to happen during Christmas Eve.

So here’s the deal: us cousins from my dad’s part of the family consist of seven kids. Diego (the oldest), followed by my sister Monica, then me (Ana), Dany, Rose, Josefo, and the youngest being my sister Karla. We’re all really close in age, so we get along alright. We’re actually more like friends than cousins. So can you imagine a group of seven kids, all between the ages of 12 and 6 being left home alone during Christmas Eve while all the adults go out for coffee? I mean, it’s not like you would expect anything bad to happen, right? Well, our parents certainly never did, that’s for sure. After a stern ‘be careful’ and a quick kiss on the cheek to each of us, all our parents were gone. So of course, we did the first thing a kid would do in a situation like this. Take out as many snacks as we could carry in our short arms, shove each other to try and be the first one out into the backyard, and call ‘NOT IT!’ at the top of our little lungs the second a game was chosen.

I’m not really sure when or even how it happened; all I know is that one second we’re all blissfully playing an innocent game of encantados, and the next my cousin is screaming ‘FIRE!’ at the top of her lungs from inside the house. Apparently, Dany had gone inside the house in the middle of the game to get another snack, and she claims that somehow, a lit match just happened to fall on top of the kitchen towel. For some reason she naïvely thought it would be a good idea to throw the towel that, mind you, was engulfed in flames, against the cotton curtains in the living room until said flames were put out. Of course, the impeccable plan turned out to be not so impeccable, since the curtains instantly caught on fire as well. And after that, the Christmas tree, which had taken three exhausting and bothersome days to decorate.

So I’m sure you can picture us perfectly: seven children around the ginormous makeshift bonfire in our living room—some crying, some screaming, some running amok. The funny thing is that for the first couple of minutes, that’s all we did. We didn’t even attempt to put out the fire until we saw it was starting to spread again. So there we all went, like a bunch of little dumbbells, puffing up our cheeks and blowing as much air as we could, thinking the fire could be put out that way. Of course, the only thing we did was make it worse. Yeah, we weren’t exactly the brightest of the bunch at that moment. Or the family favorites for the following years, but that’s another issue altogether.

I imagine that if someone happened to peek in through the window, we were sure to be a sight to behold. All of us running around the blazing Christmas tree, waving our arms in the air as if that would help.

Oh, how I wish I could say that somehow I managed to save the day, that I put on my shining armor and became the hero, but the truth is that I was running helplessly along with my cousins like a headless chicken looking for said head. It was a disaster. Thank God it was only a mere minute after that that my uncle strolled into the living room, car keys twirling around his index finger, coming to save the day. Or more accurately, coming to pick up the camera that my aunt had forgotten on the kitchen table, but all the same, he saved our little incompetent behinds. The second he caught wind of what was going on, he instantly sprang into action. He all but threw us out of the way and went to get the fire extinguisher. After less than two minutes, the fire was gone, but the evidence remained.

My uncle spun to shoot us a perplexed look, before narrowing his eyes at us. The seven of us stood shoulder to shoulder, our arms behind our backs, an innocent smile adorning each of our faces. Diego smiled and offered a shy wave.

“Hey, dad. You sure are home early, huh?”

Sure, I agree that this is a rather odd moment to choose as one of my favorite Holiday memories, but to be honest? It was one of the most memorable. We didn’t get in a lot of trouble (emphasis on a lot), and after our parents were done chewing us out for almost burning down the house, we were spoiled rotten with food and presents so that we would be able to ‘overcome’ this ‘extremely traumatic event’ we experienced. I wish I could tell you that this was the last time there was a fire during one of our family reunions involving Dany, but I can’t. Just wait till you hear what happened this New Year’s Eve! I will tell you this, though. It involved a candle, some tweezers, and my crazy, fire prone cousin.

Some things will never change, will they?


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