By Jack Fink

WEST, TX (CBSDFW.COM) — Bryan Anderson — a lifelong resident of West — his wife Jeanne, their sons, 19-year-old Cole and 10-year-old Caden have so much to be thankful for this Christmas.

Bryan says, “Everybody being here, knowing I still have all my family. The meaning of Christmas as well as the meaning of life after April 17th, we look at it differently.”

Bryan and 10-year-old Caden were in their truck near the West Fertilizer plant when it blew up last April, killing 15 people.

The windows in the truck shattered, and the glass went flying into Caden’s face.

Bryan says, “We were in shock and he’s next to me screaming are we dead and at that point, I said I didn’t know. I can hear your voice, and I said if we are, we’re both dead because I can hear you because everything was black and there was still fire falling out of the sky.”

Caden says, “It was pretty bad. I still have a scar right here” as he pointed to his forehead.

Like so many other residents, the Anderson’s house was destroyed.

Only the backyard swingset remains.

After all they went through, thieves stole their safe filled with family heirlooms and items that could never be replaced.

Anderson says, “You talk about kicking someone when they’re down. We were as down as we could be.”

They are renting a house, but hope to re-build by next Christmas.

It is often said everyone knows one another in a small town. Even though you may not know the Andersons, if you’ve been to West, chances are you may have eaten at their Pizza House Restaurant or Gerik’s Old Czech Bakery next door.

Bryan and wife Jeanne recently catered a big dinner and baked gingerbread men for all the faculty at Caden’s school as a way to say thanks.

Jeanne says, “They took him, they wrapped their arms around him, and they protected him when I could not be there.”

Caden says, “They helped me through life after the explosion and they’ve helped me one little thing at a time and they’ve just been awesome.”

The Andersons say this has been a wonderful Christmas.

Caden says he received many great presents, but didn’t hesitate to say his favorite. “The best gift that I got was just being with my family.”

They say they are very much looking forward to 2014, and hope it will be a much better year for everyone in West.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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