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A Christmas eve bonfire in Prior Lake

Following is a message from Wes Mader, founding member of Citizens for Accountable Government (CAG), who recently lost his garage to a fire on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas eve bonfire in Prior Lake

As the sun went down on Christmas eve, I was not feeling very joyful. The sight of our garage and everything in it burned to the ground with me feeling responsible, left a sickening feeling. In spite of the fact that most of our family was together for a Christmas eve celebration later, I wasn’t in a Christmas mood. That was followed by a sleepless night as I lay awake wondering what if I had done this, or what if I hadn’t done that, while trying to remember everything that was in the garage.

By Christmas day morning, the load seemed to be lifting. I was remembering that when we first bought our home, the one big negative in our minds was the detached garage that we’ve lived with for about 30 years. I was cheered by the knowledge that our house is still standing unscarred, because of that detachment. The comfort and convenience that an attached garage would have provided over 30 years, would have seemed miniscule, as compared to what we would have lost if our house had gone down in flames. Everything in the garage is replaceable if even still needed, but our house is filled with things that dollars cannot replace, including a life time of memories. It was time to get over the self-pity.

The investigator from the State Fire Marshall’s office who arrived about 9AM Christmas morning, asked if anyone had been injured by the fire. In effect, he said a visit like this was easy as compared to those where a fire had taken the lives of children, or other family members, which often happens around Christmas time. Indeed, the time for self-pity was over. It was time to be joyful, because the “what ifs” that could have happened if I hadn’t been easily able to escape the garage when the unextinguishable fire started, didn’t happen.

By Sunday my concern about the stuff in the garage was gone, and my spirit was buoyed by the support being offered by friends, neighbors and family. On a broad picture, the burning down of our garage was not a big deal, but friends, neighbors and family are. So are the fire fighters from the SMSC, and the police officers and fire fighters from the City of Prior Lake who joined me at my Christmas eve bonfire. They’re here to lend support if and when needed, something I hope I never forget to do when required.

Wes Mader, Dec. 26, 2021