ugazine Winter 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 2
contents ............................ Winter 2014
....... ....... ....... ....... .......
IN PROFILE 6 8
Bringing Back the Chill Caring from the Kitchen
CAMPUS LENS 10
Home for the Holidays
LIFESTYLE 16 Fireside Favorites 17 Homemade Holiday Drinks 18 Make a Marc
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT 24
Plugged In and Tuned Out
BEYOND THE ARCH 26 30
Sons of Sawdust Non-Traditional Traditions georgiaugazine.org 3
ugazine editor-in-chief Lexi Deagen editor-in-chief Hayden Field art director Anna Martin photo editor Brenna Beech assistant photo editor Lauren Maldonado fashion editor Surina Harjani copy editor Haylee Siverthorne contributing editors Amber Boren, Elizabeth Gerber, Samantha Miller, Brittini Ray, Kiersten Willis writers Brittany Bowes, Frannie Gordon, Kelsey Green, Ryan Kor, Lauren Leising, Ian Palmer, Danimarie Roselle photographers Laura Baker, Brenna Beech, Ersta Ferryanto, Lauren Leising, Lauren Maldonado, Ian Palmer, Taylor Sutton contact faculty adviser Joe Dennis, firstname.lastname@example.org advertising representative Patrick Stansbury mailing address Box 271 Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Athens, GA 30605 website www.georgiaugazine.com email email@example.com
Ugazine is published four times a year with sales from advertising revenue. For advertising information, please contact Patrick Stansbury, Pentagon Publishing, firstname.lastname@example.org
on the cover
ugazine Winter 2014
Vol. 46, Issue 2
A University of Georgia football helmet ornament sits on a table full of Christmas tree lights. Athens is getting ready for the holidays from insides of homes to the sparkling lights of downtown. 4
PHOTO BY LAUREN MALDONADO winter 2014
Letter From the Editor
The word “home” represents an interesting concept. When you ask people what their hometown is, sometimes they hesitate: are you asking me where I was born or where I lived the longest? But the truth is, your hometown in actuality is whatever you consider it to be — wherever you think of when you think of coming home. And with that, we found the inspiration for this issue. When so many look forward to coming home for the holidays, there are always those who consider their home to be somewhere unconventional, or even just where they feel loved. In this issue, we’ve explored Campus Kitchen at UGA, the organization that brings food and genuine care to those in need; the Indie South Fair, a holiday craft market that honors and reinforces our very own Athens community; and Sons of Sawdust, two brothers who believe storytelling with wood to be their calling. We’ve delved into the favorite fireside reads of both professors and students that call Park Hall their home, and we’ve uncovered the uncommon traditions that many students enjoy every year with their families. Wherever you’ll be over the holidays, wherever you call home, it’s the people you’re with that matter. That’s the true meaning of home.
by danimarie roselle / photos by taylor sutton and brenna beech
he UGA Ice Dogs have brought a new chill to the Classic City this fall. Playing the first season ever in Athens, the Ice Dogs now call the Classic Center home. Bringing the team to the Classic City was no easy feat. To have a rink, the team had to find someone with a vision and the financial support to build one. As David Brooks, president of the UGA Hockey Foundation, explains, Athens-Clarke County
approved the purchase and no tax dollars were used — just a loan taken out by the Classic Center. “The process started with a few individuals’ knowledge and working behind the scenes to get everything lined up for a presentation,” Brooks says. Established in 1987, the Ice Dogs were founded by a group of students, including Larry Hall, who hoped to create a new tradition at the University of Georgia. Today, the Ice
Dogs compete in the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference. Being a member of the team is a major commitment with away games, tournaments, and practice. Prior to the 2014 season, that commitment meant traveling out to the Ice Forum in Duluth, which is about a 40 mile drive. “It’s a major commitment, but it’s worth it at the end of the day,” says John Wutschel, a sophomore mathematics major from Marietta.
In addition to on-ice work, the team participates in many functions off the ice. For Wutschel, that includes fundraising, school visits and ticket sales. “We do a lot of promotional work,” says Wutschel, a forward for the team. “There’s a lot more that goes into producing UGA hockey than what you see at the game.” With a closer rink, the players not only have easier access to practice but also have more of an opportunity to play in front of peers and classmates. The Classic Center rink features a student section, as well as tickets discounted at $2. “Fans can expect the most exciting, fastest and hard-hitting sport they have ever seen,” says Brooks on the first season in Athens. “It’s nothing like watching TV.” The Ice Dogs played their first game in the Classic City on April 9, 2014, to a sold-out crowd. The team was
able to come out with a win, fueling the already rowdy audience. Though having the rink in Athens is a big perk, being a part of the team is what really matters to the Ice Dawgs. “When I first started, I had no idea how much it’d impact me,” says Stephen Bray, a junior engineering major from Prattville, Al. Some of his best friends have come from the team. “The team is pretty much my family, and bonds between players form extremely quick,” Bray says. This season, the team hopes for a more permanent rink for Athens where youth teams and adult leagues can be developed. In addition, the team would like to continue building their student section and keeping the tradition of UGA hockey alive. The Ice Dogs will be playing throughout the month of February. You can support them at the Classic Center through February 8.
the Kitchen by kelsey green photos by lauren maldonado
very day of the week, several different volunteers dedicate a few hours of their time and lend a hand to the food-insecure seniors of the Athens community. Through the Campus Kitchen at the University of Georgia, students and faculty help end senior hunger and reduce food waste by collecting food that would have otherwise been thrown out and turning it into meals that will be delivered around the community to those who need it most. Founded on October 4, 2012, the Campus Kitchen at UGA became the 33rd and newest branch of the nationwide program. Paired with Our Daily Bread, the Athens Community Council on Aging and the Campus Kitchen at UGA’s other various volunteer programs, students and faculty immediately see the effect they have on the community, where approximately one out of five Athens-Clarke County residents are considered food-insecure. Volunteering with the Campus Kitchen at UGA is flexible and open to students with busy schedules. “The great thing about our organization is that we have a lot of flexibility,” says co-President Elizabeth Parr, a senior economic and health promotion and behavior major from Atlanta. With shifts each day and varying roles within the organization, students and faculty can always find a time that works for them. Options include cooking shifts on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, produce harvesting with UGArden on Wednesday mornings and afternoons, meal deliveries on Thursdays, meal packing on Mondays and food collection on Sundays. “There is no expectation with how much you volunteer. You can volunteer at one shift, or you can volunteer a ton. We’ll love you either way,” says Parr. As part of the food collection shifts, volunteers sort through all the food that the local grocery stores donate and decide what can and cannot be used within the organization. If food cannot be used, the Campus Kitchen at UGA is
associated with other community partner organizations such as Our Daily Bread, an organization that works to feed the homeless, to ensure that food is not wasted. Rebecca Webb, a senior biology major from Kennesaw, says, “Meal plan sorts through the food, and a lot of times there’s just too much food that can’t be incorporated or will expire before we can cook it, so we bring it to Our Daily Bread.” A way volunteers truly connect with the community and their clients is through the Campus Kitchen at UGA’s additional volunteer program, Lunch Buddy. “This is the program where we send our students and faculty members once a week to eat with our clients,” says Parr. The Athens Community Council on Aging helps coordinate this program by pairing up the Campus Kitchen at UGA’s volunteers with members of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. The ACCA’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program helps inter-generational families by providing them with home-based and community resources to improve their physical and emotional health. As a part of the Lunch Buddy program, volunteers go to the homes of the seniors and spend time with them eating, trying to help fill that inter-generational gap and give the seniors company and social interaction that they may not otherwise have. “Our role is to bring them healthy food, and we work to make sure the seniors are eating wellbalanced meals. We don’t just drop the food off; we spend
an hour and eat lunch with them. It’s a really fun experience,” says Rachel Lopilato, a senior biological chemistry major from Alpharetta. “I learned so much from my lunch buddy. You’re there to help them, but then at some point you become friends and you start to help each other.” According to Lopilato, the program has continued to really grow, and in two semesters the number of lunch buddies has tripled. Along with the growing number of lunch buddies, in the 2013-2014 year alone, 881 students volunteered at least once with organization dedicating 4,064 hours of volunteering. During that time, 31,674 pounds of food were recovered and 13,594 meals were prepared for 219 clients. With its growing numbers and assortment of ways students and community members alike can volunteer, the Campus Kitchen at the University of Georgia makes a long-lasting impact on the Athens community by reducing unnecessary food waste and helping those who may need it. Webb says her favorite part is “being able to really see the direct impact you have on the community. Whereas, you know, a lot of times you can either donate money which you ensure it goes to good things or you can donate blood and it goes off, but here you see the meals and you can see exactly where they go. It’s pretty awesome.”
Home for the Holidays photos by laura baker and lauren maldonado
Fireside Favorites story by frannie gordon / photo by brenna beech
eyond the madness of the semester,
have inspired me and helped me interpret
group just read “The Magicians,” which
there’s a peaceful fellowship of
things in a more academic way.”
Teague says is “like Harry Potter but with
dedicated readers in Park Hall.
Students and teachers alike are happy
more blood.” Her cheerful, charismatic
These professors and students are in a
to settle down into fond series that were
presence fills the small table in the center
constant hustle and bustle from one class
laid aside for the past four months or so.
of the Jittery Joe’s in the Miller Learning
to the next, often holding hot travel mugs
Christopher Pizzino, associate professor of
Center. Her laughter and quick wit lend
of tea or coffee in one hand and notated
English, thought about what has been on
to the presence of the book club, and the
texts in the other.
his to-read list.
conversations are endlessly hilarious.
Home to the English major as well as
“As a comics scholar who teaches many
Teague admires Terry Pratchett. “She
classical language majors, Park is a hub
kinds of literature, I don’t usually find time
does sci-fi fantasy, but I’ll read shampoo
for theorizing, analyzing and engaging in
to follow my favorite series on a monthly
bottles. I mean, I will read anything,”
complex ideas. During the semester, these
basis,” says Pizzino. “I’m looking forward
she says. “As readers, we look for words
readers and professors are inundated with
to catching up on Robert Kirkman’s ‘The
everywhere–on the backs of cereal boxes,
countless preparations and readings for
Walking Dead.’ It may not be the kind of
anything.” A couple of books she is looking
series everyone wants to curl up with by
to read and re-read right now include “The
However, when the semester draws to a
the fire, but for those with the necessary
Things They Carried”and “Flowers for
close and there is a final sigh of relief as
fortitude, ‘The Walking Dead’ is a
aching hands finish that last in-class essay,
what will these students and professors be
Jake Brannon, a mass media arts
looking forward to reading by the fireside
major, enjoys reading southern literature
over winter break?
phenomenon Pat Conroy. A book he’s been
Nikki Smith, a junior English major,
looking forward to is “Prince of Tides.”
Teague’s career is to read, and she reads voraciously. “I mean honestly, how many times have I read ‘Macbeth?’” she says. Kristen Hobbs is interested in pursuing works by Cormac McCarthy, the author
began reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn
“I read ‘Lords of Discipline,’ and this one
Rand over the summer and will be picking
is said to be one of his best books. While
up the novel again soon. “I read ‘The
reading ‘Prince of Tides,’’ I felt like I was
“I have such a long list of things that I’m
Fountainhead’ in high school,” she says.
betrayed by the main character for the first
trying to work through,” she says. “Mostly,
“It was too complicated for me at the time.
time,” he says. “I didn’t understand why
I read things that have been recommended
I’m interested to see how I interpret the
they did what they did. I want to follow
to me. However, I’ve been trying to read all
political aspects now that I’m in college.”
that and trace that character.”
of McCarthy’s books, and it’s been a very
She quietly related her experiences of how she has come to greatly appreciate novels in depth because of her time in Park.
His genre preferences lean towards James Elroy novels about the 1940s and 1950s.
of “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men,” during her break at home.
long process.” This winter, students and professors alike
Professor Fran Teague teaches in the
will be putting aside academic materials
“I can understand things better in novels
film, English and drama departments at
and hopefully enjoying some much-needed
simply because of how much I’ve read. I
UGA, specializing in women’s studies and
bonding time with the crackling fire in the
started to force myself to read deeper–
Shakespeare. She attends Bulldog Book
fireplace and beloved dog-eared pages, as
I was able to read a bunch of books in
Club, a bi-monthly affair she is fond of
well as dusty favorites finally being taken
Professor Pizzino’s class, and my teachers
and has kept up for several years. The
off the shelf.
Homemade Holiday Drinks story by brittany bowes / photos by ian palmer Homemade White Hot Chocolate Ingredients: 4 cups milk of your choice (or you can substitute heavy cream or half and half, or do a mixture) 1 tsp. vanilla extract 8 oz. white chocolate chips Whipped cream or marshmallows for topping Instructions: Stir together milk, vanilla and white chocolate chips in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white hot chocolate comes to a simmer. (Do not let it come to a boil). Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired. Source: givemesomeoven.com
Salted Caramel Mocha Ingredients: 1 shot of espresso or 3/4 cup coffee 1 1/2 â€“ 2 tablespoons caramel sauce 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder (the hot chocolate kind, not the unsweetened baking kind) Pinch of sea salt (Starbucks uses a blend of smoked sea salt and turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top) 1/2 cup milk Whipped cream (optional) Extra caramel sauce and sea salt to drizzle/sprinkle on top Instructions: With an espresso maker: Prepare espresso. Place caramel sauce, cocoa powder and sea salt in a mug and pour espresso over them. Froth milk and slowly pour into mug, stirring to combine everything. Add more caramel, cocoa and/or salt to taste. Top with whipped cream, drizzle caramel sauce, and a tiny pinch of sea salt. Without an espresso maker: Prepare coffee. Place caramel sauce, cocoa powder and sea salt in a mug. Pour coffee into mug, stirring to combine everything. Heat milk in microwave or on the stove and add to mug, stirring everything to combine. Add more caramel, cocoa and/or salt to taste. Top with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a tiny pinch of sea salt. Source: 52kitchenadventures.com
Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients: 2 tbsp canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1 cup milk of choice, or (for a richer taste) a combination of nondairy creamer and milk 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3-4 tbsp strong coffee sugar or stevia to taste Instructions: Mix all ingredients except coffee with a fork or whisk. Either microwave or heat on the stove until desired temperature is reached. Add coffee and whisk again. If desired, top with whipped cream. Source: chocolatecoveredkatie.com
Peppermint Mocha Ingredients: 1 cup milk, steamed 1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water) 1 tablespoon cocoa powder 2 tablespoons of sugar 2-3 tablespoons peppermint syrup Whipped cream (optional) Chocolate Syrup (optional) Crushed Peppermints (optional) Instructions: If using a French press: Prepare your hot water in a kettle. Add four tablespoons of your favorite coffee grounds to your French press. Pour 1 cup of hot water over them and allow the coffee to steep for four minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. If not using a French press: prepare coffee as you normally would. In a pot, heat up one cup of milk until it is steaming. Froth the milk with a wire whisk or an immersion blender until it is nice and foamy. In your coffee cup, mix together the prepared coffee, cocoa powder, sugar, and peppermint syrup until the sugar and cocoa powder are dissolved and there are no lumps. Pour the milk foam over the top of the coffee/mocha mixture and stir. Top with whipped cream, a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup and crushed peppermints. Source: momadvice.com
Make a Marc The fierceness of the winter inspires a look that is posh and powerful, and nothing characterizes the striking collections of Marc Jacobs better. These wintery looks were modeled after his designs, what he refers to as “street-wise aesthetics–a [mash up of ] a little preppie, a little grunge, a little couture.” It is a culmination of these elements that give monotone ensembles their strength. Matte whites juxtaposed by the sheen of a necklace. Linear cuts emphasized by the contarst of texture. As you walk down the street in a gradient of neutrals, you’ll leave passerby more breathless than the spine-chilling cold.
styled by surina harjani and ashley biscan make up by olivia rawlings
winter 2014photos by ersta ferryanto
MODEL: Ross Manning Alpharetta, Ga. Computer Science
MODEL: Tiernan Heydt Cumming, Ga. Dental Hygiene
MODEL: Lisa Romanovski Minsk, Belarus Microbiology
Plugged in and Tuned Out story and photos by lauren leising As I walk around campus, I can’t help but notice that the majority of people I see have their heads down, noses in their phones and fingers tapping away. I’m guilty of it too. It’s so easy to whip out your phone just about anywhere, anytime and have the world at your fingertips. We are wrapped around the finger of the digital age. While this ability to access information, stay in constant contact with people and keep up with what’s happening is incredibly valuable and helpful, our tendency to be glued to our phones is taking its toll on our community. With our eyes stuck on a screen, we overlook what is going on around us in the moment and often miss opportunities to make a new friend, help someone out or just take in the beauty of the day.
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No one can deny that smartphones have begun popping up just about everywhere, especially on college campuses. More and more teachers and students rely on their phones for tasks such as planning out their daily schedules. Freshman Alexandra Case says, “I use it every single day to plan out my classes, when I am meeting people and when I do my homework.” By combining a notebook, calendar, alarm clock and just about any other form of reminder system out there, smartphones are easily one of the handiest gadgets we have. Their capabilities to access e-mail and the Internet are also very beneficial, especially in a classroom setting. Dr. Duncan, a professor at UGA, notes that in the great power outage of spring 2014, he had his students use their smart phones to access class material rather than cancelling class. In situations like this, having more than one way to view documents and emails allows students and teachers to remain connected and on-schedule. It is these benefits that draw us to our screens and often lead to crossing the blurred line between using our resources effectively and becoming addicted to the little gizmos in our hands. In a recent paper called “Hooked on Smart Phones: An Exploratory Study on Smart Phone Overuse Among College Students,” the researchers studied how the rise in technology has impacted college students, especially in regards to their dependence on their phones. The study showed how regular use of smartphones often led to lack of self-control and addiction to the phones and the virtual world they created, disconnecting the students from the real world. When given the ability to connect with people at any time and anywhere simply with the tap of a screen, it is easy to become absorbed by virtual friendships and interactions with people who are far away. Though incredibly convenient, this can be perilous, as Dr. Duncan explains that he fears that “many college students are using social media to create digital friendships at the expense of meeting new people in person.” While networking and keeping in contact with old friends is incredibly important and valuable, we can’t forget that
there is a world of people right in front of us just waiting to be explored. This time in our lives is crucial to meeting new people and having new experiences. Colin Fite, a junior at UGA, explains that “for the most part, the people I’m with at college are most important and relevant in my life.” There should be less of a need to seek companionship from those who are not here, especially when those friendships become mainly virtual. There are exceptions, of course, in regards to family or those who are and have been key in your life, but it is important to evaluate which relationships require constant contact and which ones do not. You don’t want to look back on college and realize that you missed out on some great opportunities and people because you had your nose pressed to a screen. So, as this holiday season rolls around and you start preparing to go home to celebrate or stick around and enjoy the season with friends, I challenge you to stop looking at the screen and focus on who is around you. Put down the phone, bundle up, grab a friend or two and go out and enjoy the real world. Come on, I dare you.
story and photos by ian palmer
ne look at their woodshop in Watkinsville is enough to reveal that Matt and Ben Hobbs aren’t ordinary carpenters. If you asked the two brothers, who run a furniture business called Sons of Sawdust, they would probably describe themselves more as storytellers. Instead of normal 2X4’s and power tools, Matt and Ben’s shop is filled with piles and piles of old, weather-worn, misshapen planks of wood. The Hobbs brothers fashion handcrafted tables out of these dusty old boards because they believe each piece of wood they find has a special story to tell. The story of Sons of Sawdust starts from a state of desperation. Ben, who worked for a construction company, had injured his leg and was unable to work, but he had bills to pay and was quickly falling into debt. Meanwhile, Matt, who at the time was working as web designer, had just built a handcrafted farm table for his wife. One day Ben got a call from a guy who was tearing down an old house and wanted to get rid of the wood, so the brothers jumped on what looked like a good opportunity. “We just put two and two together
and got the load of wood, built a table or two, put them on Craigslist and orders just started flying in. It didn’t really start slowing down, so we figured we were on to something,” Ben says. And thus, Sons of Sawdust was born. The business may have originated from a stroke of luck in a desperate situation, but the Hobbs brothers’ story as woodworkers has been much longer in the making. Sons of Sawdust has existed for less than a year, but Matt and Ben started working with wood as children with their grandfather, who they credit as their primary influence when it comes to craftsmanship as well as character. “Our grandfather taught us at a very young age how to work with our hands, and how to be men of integrity. I don’t remember him specifically telling me ‘yes, do this’ or ‘no, don’t do this,’ but he would instinctively coach us so well that we thought we were doing it on our own. It’s interesting how intuitively it comes to us years down the road now. When we’re building something, and we come up to a problem, we just solve it, and I know it was our grandfather’s coaching that gave
us that ability. We’re carrying on his legacy through the woodworking we’re doing, and I think that’s a powerful story,” says Matt. Matt and Ben’s grandfather passed away six years ago, but they are sure that if he was still alive, he would be in the shop with them every day, having the time of his life. To honor his legacy, the brothers make the first cut of each table they build with one of their grandfather’s hand saws that he left to them. It’s their way of continuing to tell his story while bringing him into what they are doing. In addition to telling their own story, Matt and Ben also want to tell a story with each table they make. According to them, the best stories are waiting in their own city, in the bones of buildings built generations ago. “Most of our wood comes from houses or barns that were built in the 1800s. We always try to aim for stuff that’s at least older than 100 years. We also try to keep it local. Keeping it right here in town makes it even more special. It’s like, this wood was from a tree that was probably 100 years old
when it was cut down right here in Oconee or Clarke County, and it was part of a house where a family lived for 70 years and then it got torn down, and then we went and got it and turned it into something that’s going to go into another house for maybe another 70 years and just kind of keep it alive,” says Matt. “Our wood comes from the woods here. It’s not reclaimed from England or something that sounds fancy. It’s from right next door,” adds Ben. Each piece of wood Matt and Ben use has a unique history of its own, as do the people they get it from. In their hunt for old houses and barns they often get to experience the rich family histories of their community. They encountered one man who sold them the wood from an old, rundown chicken shack on his property. After getting to know him, Matt and Ben learned that the chicken shack had been built with the wood from a schoolhouse built in the 1890s, of which the property owner’s grandfather was the founder. In their hunt for good wood, the Hobbs brothers have found many great family
stories like this, and by recrafting the wood they find into tables, they are able to connect with those families and continue to tell their story for several more years. Building tables with local, reclaimed wood obviously carries more significance than working with boards from Home Depot, so it’s no surprise that the process is also much more difficult and painstaking than normal woodworking. First, the brothers have to treasure-hunt around Athens for old houses and barns with wood that fits the criteria for their tables. Once they’ve found a winner, they demolish the building, load up the wood and bring it to the shop. Next, they have to de-nail it, treat it for mold and mildew and sand it down. “Sanding is really where you get a lot of the character,” says Matt. “When the wood comes in, it’s filthy and has dirt all over it. Sanding it down is such a beautiful process because you start seeing the texture in the wood from the saw marks and the different colors and hues.” After sanding, Matt and Ben cut the wood to length and put it together to construct a table. This is where things get particularly tricky. Wooden boards cut in the 1800s with circular saw blades are very inconsistent in size and shape. Because of this, the brothers will often go through the entire process of sanding, measuring and cutting a board only to realize that it won’t fit on their table and that they have to start the whole process over with a new piece of
wood. “It’s very tedious, and there’s a lot of rework to everything we do just because these old boards are tough to work with,” says Matt. However, it’s all worth it because the rough textures and age-worn shapes of the old boards are what Matt and Ben value most about their tables, and they’re what best tell the story of the wood it came from. “Part of our vision and our aesthetic is the character and imperfections of the wood, and letting it speak for itself as opposed to just completely wiping it clean,” says Ben. It’s this raw quality of their tables that draws new customers to Sons of Sawdust each month. In the short time they’ve been in business, Matt and Ben have expanded their clientele from a small group of friends and family to customers from all around the state who share the Hobbs’ affinity for well-crafted furniture that has significance beyond its functionality. “The customers that we’re looking for and that are looking for us are the ones who just love and appreciate old wood. Those are the people that are always going to be happy because they love the story, and they love where the wood came from,” says Matt. Matt and Ben’s own story is as good as the ones they tell through each table they make: two brothers treasure-hunting for old wood to make tables with their grandfather’s tools. It’s a simple story, and they intend to keep it that way. Because, like the wood they use, good stories just get better with age.
Non-Traditional Traditions story by ryan kor / photos by laura baker
An Explosive Thanksgiving Most people envision the Fourth of July when they think of explosive holidays. At the Hammond household, Thanksgiving is when the real fireworks happen. Every November, Ben Hammond, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Monroe, and his family blow things up on Thanksgiving Day using explosive targets and lots of guns. They have been doing this for the past five years. “My big extended family all comes and they bring four or five guns each because they really like guns,” says Ben. His grandfather has a collection of vintage items, so their guns look like the came out of a Civil War armory. The Hammond family has a fully functioning shooting range in their backyard where all of the festivities take place. Exploding targets are attached to trees, kerosene tanks and pretty much any item that will produce a fantastic explosion. “Five pounds of that stuff will blow up a cement mixer,” says Ben of the exploding targets. Of course, this fiery activity is not without risk. While the Hammonds do their best to keep safe, there have been some inevitable mishaps. One such occasion was when Ben accidently blew up his mother’s walking bridge. She eventually forgave him. Ben acknowledges that this Thanksgiving activity may not be the ideal way to celebrate for every family. But for the Hammonds, controlled destruction is a bonding experience. “It keeps the tensions down,” Ben jokes. Next year, they might just blow up that cement mixer.
Chinese for Christmas
The beloved holiday movie “A Christmas Story” features a family eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve because that is the only restaurant open. Ashley Cown, a junior interior design major from Athens, and her family have adopted this same quirky tradition. Originally, the Cowns weren’t trying to recreate the movie scene, but they quickly realized that their Chinese takeout ritual was a pop-cultural coincidence. “One year, someone had the idea to order Chinese food, and it just stuck,” says Ashley. The Cowns have been doing this for the past five years. They certainly aren’t alone in this tradition. While “A Christmas Story” was fictional, it accurately portrayed the fact that Chinese restaurants are open on the holidays when even grocery stores are closed. It is, by default, the best option for eating out on Christmas. It’s no surprise that the first year Ashley’s family ordered Christmas takeout, she ran into one of her friends with her dad at the restaurant doing the exact same thing. For Ashley, Christmas tastes a lot like sesame chicken with white rice. And she loves the flavor.
Dirty Santa Santa is always a vital part of the Christmas season. For Elizabeth Paulson, a sophomore human development and family science major from Grayson, Santa fuels many of her family traditions. Elizabeth and her family have a “dirty Santa” exchange every year on Christmas. They each buy two presents to contribute to the pool of gifts. What may seem like a calm and generous event often turns ruthless as the Paulson family members battle for the best pick of the gifts. “My cousin David usually ends up with the worst gift because he is the youngest, and he doesn’t understand, and I take advantage of that,” says Elizabeth. The phrase “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t apply during this white elephant exchange. Santa also takes center-stage in a tradition that dates back to when Elizabeth was a toddler. The Paulsons have a Santa toy who dances to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” As per tradition, Elizabeth and her family dance along with the toy and even try to mimic its moves. “We always try to copy the dancing Santa,” says Elizabeth. The Paulson family takes traditional Christmas figures and customs and adds their own non-traditional spin on them. Like an unwrapped toy on Christmas morning, the Paulson family is outside of the box.
The phrase “home for the holidays” can carry many meanings. Megan Kriss, a sophomore Arabic and international affairs major from Kennesaw, feels most at home when her family can be with her brother, Thomas, on Christmas. “Since my brother is in the Navy, some Christmases he can’t get leave to come home. So as much as possible, we try to go to him,” says Megan. The Kriss family sacrifices all traditional holiday notions in order for their family to be united. Last year, the Kriss family drove 18 hours round-trip to spend Christmas with Thomas in Virginia. A few years before that, they went to Texas. They have been traveling for Christmas since 2010, when Thomas went through his first boot camp. Hotel rooms become the Kriss family home during these trips. They bring a tiny Christmas tree with them and decorate the door with a wreath. Their family dog even gets to come along. This is evidence that home extends far beyond the structure where the family lives their daily lives. The Kriss family’s nomadic patterns for the holidays prove that family comes first. The many hours spent traveling pale in comparison to the joy of a Christmas surrounded by loved ones.