We face two facts of life during December: Christmas is upon us and we are tired. We will soon return to family in other cities and other states, communities that did not delight in or endure the same things that we did this fall. There may be a sense of dissonance.
Maybe this is not everyone’s experience, but sometimes I find it is mine. When my mother picks me up from the airport at the beginning of break, she says something like, “You have to tell me all about your life,” as we drive home. I pause. Out of all the profundities, epiphanies, and insecurities that make up a semester—or even just a week or two—I must distill my life into a small package, wrap it, and give it to her. I tell her my story; this is the gift of myself.
In this issue, most of the writers are doing the very thing I do for my mother—giving the gift of self. As I accumulated pitches five weeks ago, I found, somewhat magically, that almost everyone wanted to write about their own experiences. They have delighted in or endured things that the rest of us have not. Now, they have distilled their memories into words on the page, edited them, and given them freely.
Mark Naida, Noah Weinrich, and Dr. Dwight Lindley begin the issue by providing three perspectives on why Weezer’s first album (affectionately known as “the Blue Album”) was so meaningful for them during adolescence, and why it remains meaningful today. Next, Mark expands upon the theme of adolescence in an essay that traces his love of poetry back to the “concrete square” of Monroe, Michigan, and to the poets who helped him see its beauty. Hannah Niemeier writes about a different poet—Peter Gizzi—in a review of his recent collection, Archeophonics, a National Book Award finalist. Maddy Johnson also writes about home; like myself, she feels dissonance when migrating between Hillsdale and her hometown of Minneapolis, but by examining each place’s purposes and limitations, she arrives at a fuller sense of the common humanity.
In a letter to the attendees of this year’s trip to Israel, Sarah Reinsel reflects on her time there last winter and the conclusions she drew from the journey; Amelia Steiren also grapples with an impactful recent event—the death of a friend of a friend—by relating her experience to that of Augustine in Confessions. In keeping with the theme of the gift of self, Katie Davenport encourages writers to remain true to their literary convictions in the face of criticism. To end the issue, Noah Weinrich gives us the gift of laughter by turning two much-loved Christmas tales upside-down. Lastly, a word of thanks to Elena Creed for providing the beautiful photo on this issue’s cover.
As you return home, take with you the gift of a semester at Hillsdale. As Dr. Lindley writes, “A tell-tale sign of a gift is that it fills the heart, making the receiver want to give in turn, out of the fullness of surplus.” Take this gift, then share yourself with your families.
Chandler Ryd is junior studying English.