Con­tact Sports,

Pasatiempo - - Holiday Writing Contest -

“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.

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