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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Bringing the Mess to the Table

Bringing+the+Mess+to+the+Table

Letter from the Editor

Growing up, I never understood why adults always murmured things about the holidays being “hard” and “stressful.” I mean, what is difficult about government-designated days during which you are fed home-cooked meals, given gifts by silly relatives and allowed to stay up as late as you want because the holiday ensured you no school the next day? But time reveals all things, even those which we thought we would never understand, and I have come to realize that the holidays are “hard” because people are hard, and throwing a slew of difficult, messy people together in a room, a house, or even a town doesn’t always make for amiable conversation.  

I have noticed it becoming increasingly hard with each passing year to go back home to my childhood room; it feels like trying to squeeze into boots that are two sizes too small. As we age, the inevitability of our parents looking more human that they once did, morphing into creatures who strangely resemble humans with scars and bruises and flaws. It is all at once disappointing, concerning and completely humbling. We are getting older, but so are they. A pattern attributable only to time and its mysteries, age ages us all. And sometimes, growing hurts. 

So what do we do when home feels hard because none of us are who we were when we left for school? How do we handle going home to the place that will always be home, when the people who have loved us so fiercely in the best way they knew how, aren’t the same either? Is there room to rejoice in change, even when it is unwelcome or unfamiliar? What does it look like to recognize brokenness as humanness and meet at the table to have conversations that we would rather not have? How does it work when people irk us and holding our tongues feels surely impossible? Mostly, what happened to the good ‘ole, easy holiday-days when tables weren’t for hard conversations, but only for eating?  

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I wish I could offer the answers to these questions, but they are things I am pondering myself in light of this beautiful, joyfully hard and altogether whimsical season, which is just as transitive as was the last and as, I’m sure, will be the next. Family is different for each of us, and there is beauty in the fact that the concept of family brings to each of our minds different things. For me family is laughter and comfort and all things communicative; but family can also mean for me guilt and harsh debate and down-to-the-bone stubbornness. I am learning that family is a double-edged sword. I am also learning that in the realm of true, real relationships, in no way do we only get to chose the good without also inheriting the ugly.  

So maybe the answer to these questions is more about the questions themselves and the time we take to meet each other at the table, conversing with our hard, messy, completely human families. Maybe it’s learning to take the good with the bad, as is the discipline of love, though I know this is easier read and printed neatly in a newspaper than actually done. In whatever season of change you find yourself in this holiday season, whether it be an ill family member, other people’s emotional baggage, uncertainty about your family’s finances or a sibling that it’s taking every ounce of your patience not to start throwing punches at, remember your own mess. Have patience with yourself and with the family you’re surrounded with. Let’s let love pilot our conversations. Let’s all bring our mess and sit at the table together.  

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