I have been having a very hard time coming up with a column this month. Usually I have all sorts of ideas floating around in my head, but this month none of them seem appropriate. I usually try to keep my columns lighthearted, but these haven’t been lighthearted times in the last few weeks.

Before the fires, I had thought about writing about getting rid of “stuff” we have collected over the years. You know, the silverware, the china, the crystal — things that seemed important at the time but that we seldom use any more.

Of course, the earthquake helped us get rid of some of it three years ago. But there is still a lot left. Most of our children don’t want it, and it’s hardly worth selling on eBay. But when I thought of all the people who lost all their treasures and family memories in the fires, I felt that writing about “stuff” right now would be insensitive.

I thought of writing helpful tips on safeguarding things, but others have already written about protecting your things from natural disasters. I didn’t have much to add to what they have said. Of course, most of us have taken a new look at our fire insurance policies and how we store our important documents. But this firestorm in Napa was so intense there probably wasn’t anything that offered any real protection.

Phil and I weren’t damaged by the fire, but we saw how our friends, who stayed with us for a while, tried to adjust to homelessness and the loss of all their possessions. I think all of us in Napa are still suffering from post traumatic stress even if we didn’t lose our home or possessions.

Thankfully, Napa is such a caring community as there are so many organizations and individuals who have stepped up to help. Our friends filled up our garage with donated clothing and essentials to help them set up housekeeping until their insurance company finds a new temporary home for them. They got out with nothing but their cars, their dog, and the clothes on their backs.

My column is going to be real short this month. Maybe next month, my seasonal cheer will return. But until then, I just want to offer my condolences to those who suffered losses and gratitude that the loss of life and injury wasn’t worse.

So yes, we can be thankful for all those in Napa County who have been generous and caring. So please remember all who have helped by including them in your grace before Thanksgiving dinner this year.

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