The Christmas Supper

Justin Ren, guest writer


“When it’s gone, then you will understand what is gone.”(Ni). This is how the story began: “Have a safe trip, Dad”, she ran up to him, jumped on his body, and put her arms on his shoulders. Straight after, I held on Evans and came next to him, I kissed on his cheek. Evans was only 2 and half feet tall; he hugged his dad’s thigh and held it tightly.

“Hey Maria, please take care of our children, they are lovely.” He picked Evans up and let him sit on his robust arm and kissed both of his children.

“I will be back Maria, for my children and for you, I will be back.” He spoke with a deep voice. He looked up at the ceiling, I saw a tear coming out of his eyes.

“John, I will. I will take care of them. But I want you to please write letters to us at least once a month, so we can still talk to you.”

He looked into my eyes, “but what if–”

“There is no if, John, nothing will happen to you. Promise me, you have to comeback and do your duty!” He kissed me, turned around, and left. By that time, I knew that was a difficult thing to promise.


I ran to the post office everyday, hoping to find a letter from him with his handwriting. I received eight letters in five months; they were all about how much he loves us and how he can’t wait to see us again. I was so happy to see all these letters, I wrote a couple letters back, he never answered any of my letter. But finally. . .


October 20th, 1811.

Dear John Maryland,

I heard people talking about that America is going to fight the Indians, I hope you are okay, please stay safe, John. Children are fine, we love you so much. Your love, Maria.


October 30th, 1811.

Dear Maria,

Hey, My love, I am okay. It had been a busy month; we are preparing to fight the native Americans; I am confident that we will win the battle because we have a really good general leading us, William Henry Harrison. Do you know him? He is the governor of Indiana, really smart guy. Anyway, I will probably back before Christmas, wait for me. Take care of our children. I love you guys. John.


Dear John Maryland,

Oh John, are you okay? I haven’t heard from you for a long time now, please reply to my letter. I am worried about you. I love you, John. Maria. December 5th, 1811.


“Evans and Sarah, time for bed!” I yelled to them. “Oh. . . Sarah, could you put this sweater on for Evans that I weaved, before he goes to bed, it will be warm enough for him tonight. I am going to weave another one for you tomorrow.”

“Okay, Mother, thank you.”

Winter’s night. It was pretty, but silent. I saw beautiful frosty crystal froze on my window, and the wind was blowing, like monsters banging around my house. I fell asleep…

December 11, the night has come(Jake). I felt there was a sense of danger mixed in the air; I have never felt that terrible before. Suddenly, the ground begins to shake, branches begin to fall off the tree, the whole apartment stars to tear apart. I fell off my bed, rolling on the ground, no matter how I try, I couldn’t get up…

I realized immediately— it’s an earthquake, it’s so big that we might not survive (Monastersky).

I yelled as loud as I could, ” Evans! Sarah! Run! Run! Out! Out of this house!” I hope they heard me yelling from the other side of the room. The apartment collapsed in one minute, but it felt like 20 seconds. That one minute, changed me and my family.

I couldn’t find them, in the ruins, in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold winter. I finally cried in 27 years, it was loud, but seemed like nobody cared. I kneeled down on the concrete.

“God!  Please open your eyes! Look what is happening to us!” Blood soaked my white nightgown, but the only thing I was thinking was where are my children.


Evans and Sarah lived in the same bedroom, when the earthquake happened, they heard my voice, which they immediately trying to ran out of the apartment.

“Evans, we have to run!” Sarah exclaimed.

“I can’t! I am scared!” he was crying, loudly.

“Let me carry you. do not cry!” She carried him on her shoulder.

One step, two steps, three steps, four steps. . . 20 steps. . . Sarah’s steps were much heavier than before. She stepped on broken glasses — something that wouldn’t have happened the day before. Blood trailed behind her.  Stones were falling off the apartment, crashing to the ground.

About 20 feet from the exit, the bearing wall fell; it fell on Sarah’s legs. She screamed and fell down on the hard concrete floor.

“Hey, Evans!” she attempted to calm herself and said.

“Yes” with a sniffling sound.

“Mother is waiting for you outside; you should go!”

“You not going and me?” He barely uttered the words.

“I need to rest a little, you should go now. Just climb up this rock.”

“I am scared, I need you go and me!” He started crying.

“No Evans, you go now! If you don’t go, I will not be your sister anymore”

He finally climbed up the massive rock; under the rock there were a couple dead bodies.

“Tell mother and father, that I love them!”

He made it to the top, smelled the fresh air, mingled with smoke from the ruins. He did not see his mom, he saw a lot of people crying and digging. He didn’t understand what was going on. So he ran to a corner and started crying. The snow was falling from the sky. With his new sweater he was still chilled and his teeth was chattering. However, tiredness won the fear; he fell asleep.

I looked for them all night. Finally, I found Evans, in the morning. He was sleeping against a trash can. I woke him up and inquired about his sister. He said she wanted to relax inside. I had doubts and walked to the place he had pointed out. I saw Sarah, she was lying on the ground with a ripped, dirty white nightgown on her body.


She didn’t answer


She didn’t move

I walked down to see her, and held on to her hand; it felt like ice. She left us, forever. I didn’t remember how long I cried, but when I went to see Evans; it was dark outside.

Evans and I buried her. We moved out. I wanted to stay far away from that full of sadness place. We left New Madrid , and stayed at a house 2 hours away. Life went on.


It was Christmas Day, Evans and I as usual, we went to the post office first to see if there is a letter from John. I haven’t received a letter from him for a long time. We got a letter, but it was not John’s hand writing.


November 11th, 1811.

Dear Maria Maryland

It is a honor to write a letter to you. This is William Henry Harrison, commander of the US forces, governor of Indiana. Your husband, John Maryland and other Americans soldiers fought in the battle of Tippecanoe, I regret to inform you that your husband, lost his life on the battlefield while he was fighting the Native Americans, on November 7th, 1811. He was a great solider; his life brought our peace. We will retain the honor and remember him as our hero. Again, I am sorry, and thank you for you husband’s service in US forces. William Harrison

After I read that, there were no words for me to say. Tears soaked my shirt; I didn’t remember how long I cried.

We came home. I put four plates on the table and four slices of bread on each plate with a little bit of butter. I sat, and Evans sat next to me. Silence took control of our house again. We started our Christmas supper. . .

“The houses could rebuilt, but my house will never be built up again”(Xiaogang).


Works Cited

Jake, Page, and Charles Officer. The Big One. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

“Harrison, William Henry.” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™, Columbia University                      Press, 2017. General Reference Center GOLD. Web.

Monastersky, Richard. “The Great American quakes: eight weeks that rocked the United States.” Science News, 8 June 1996, p. 362+. Business Collection. Print.

Ni Zi, “Tang Shan Da Di Zhen,, 16 May 2012.

Xiaogang Feng,Tang Shan Da Di Zhen,, 16 May                        2012.