“I’m happy, OK? Grandpa and Uncle Alex’s conversations always started off fine. Just normal conversation with each other, until one of them mentioned school or careers. All of a sudden, they both just exploded into argument like a stick of dynamite with a short fuse. These arguments happened every time they came into contact with each other. Their bickering was just like two football players smashing their heads together.
Across the table, Aunt Anne and my mom were talking about when my mom tripped over the garden hose and broke her leg.
“Do you remember the time you tripped me? Dad had to rush me to the ER because I broke my leg!” my mother said in a surprisingly calm way.
“I never tripped you! I just happened to be close by when you started yelling like a 4-year-old,” Aunt Anne snapped.
Uh oh, I thought to myself. I knew that it would only be a matter of minutes before all of them would break out into arguments. I was right. Ten seconds later they broke out into yelling.
Contact sports were being played in our living room but nobody noticed. A huge game of blaming someone for something that they did or didn’t do. It was no different than tackling them to the ground. I tried to shut out the cacophony. I hated the yelling and arguments that were slowly tearing our family apart. If something didn’t change, the happy and wonderful memories of Christmas would fade away. How can our family get along again? I asked myself.
I thought about how to mend the ripped holiday spirit of being kind and helpful to one another. Nothing came to my mind until the smell of Aunt Bessy’s marvelous apple pie filled my nostrils. I remembered mom telling me about her earlier years and how every Christmas dinner, grandma would use her secret family recipe to make a delicious pie. All of my aunts and uncles remembered this pie from childhood, and after my grandmother passed away, it was one of the few things that reminded them of her. Bringing back memories of their mother might end the fighting. I walked over to my aunt and whispered in her ear, “Can we have apple pie?” “Of course.” She walked over to the counter and started to slice the apple pie into thick wedges. We passed out the slices of pie. The first bite lit up everyone’s eyes like a million candles. My grandmother had always taught everyone to be kind and respectful to one another and in turn you would receive kindness and respect. Those wonderfully crisp, cinnamon sugar covered apples made my relatives think of my grandmother. My parents, aunts, uncles, and grandpa left the past as it was and enjoyed one another’s company. When it was time to go, we all gave one another big bear hugs. They were tackles full of love and kindness. It reminded me of loving contact sports.
Ben Bajema is 13 and a student at the Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences.