Despite house fire, Shelby and daughters thanking God

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2000

Joys of Christmas Day will have special meaning for Alvin Shelby and his twin daughters. &uot;We lost most of our personal possessions when the top floor of our house burned last Monday,&uot; said Shelby, a well-known Natchez musician and teacher. &uot;But we thank God that we are still alive. It could have turned out otherwise.&uot;

The 15-year-old sisters were asleep in their upstairs room when one awoke feeling especially warm.

&uot;She said she thought I had turned the heat up high,&uot; Shelby said. &uot;It was a very cold night.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Katreena then saw a red glow outside the bedroom she shares with her sister, Amanda. &uot;She began to realize the house was on fire, woke her sister, and the commotion they made woke me,&uot; Shelby said.

&uot;I heard them and wondered what those girls were doing making such noise at 5 o’clock in the morning,&uot; he said.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to realize the house was burning.

One of the girls called 911.

&uot;I just said to them, ‘Come on, get out of here right away,’&uot; Shelby recalled. &uot;They said, ‘Daddy, we don’t even have anything on our feet.’&uot;

It was true, Shelby said. But he knew they had to move fast.

Response from the Natchez Fire Department was quick and efficient, Shelby said, praising their efforts.

Nevertheless, the house no longer was inhabitable. The family moved to a hotel.

&uot;We began to talk about how blessed we were to be alive and how Christmas would be special this year,&uot; he said.

Both girls prepared illustrated talks to present to their classmates at Cathedral School to tell what Christmas has come to mean to them, especially this year.

Katreena started by describing the literal meaning of Christmas and then told how Christmas 2000 would be different for her.

&uot;This Christmas my only worry was not getting that many gifts for Christmas. Then my house caught on fire,&uot; she said. &uot;The fire destroyed all of my clothes, pictures and most of my furniture.

&uot;Now that my material things are gone, I am left with the true meaning of Christmas,&uot; she said.

&uot;I have my life and my family.&uot;

Losing material possessions, she found that &uot;there is so much more, and the greatest gift from God … is love.&uot;

Christmas is not &uot;something you can put under the tree … nor is it in the words I say,&uot; she said.

Sister Amanda agreed, writing in her booklet about family, friends and traditions of Christmas.

&uot;Christmas time is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything and everyone you have,&uot; Amanda said.

Shelby said he feels pride in his daughters’ handling of a difficult situation.

He believes they all have learned an important lesson.

&uot;One thing we still have. That’s the joy of the Lord,&uot; he said.

&uot;We all should take time this season to enjoy each other instead of all the material things.&uot;