An essay by alum Rachel Brownson (poetry, ’14) appears at The Toast:

My grandparents’ living room was almost too warm after the cutting December wind outside, and the Christmas tree blinked pink and gold, ringed with piles of boxes. My cousins and their parents could be heard laughing and bickering in the den downstairs, and as we shed our chilly coats and exchanged the usual hugs, I looked around for my uncle Dave, wondering which version of him was here today. As we sat down I heard his heavy step on the deck behind the sliding doors, and he came slowly into view: tall in his dusty-looking coat, his round belly pressing at the zipper, his University of Michigan knit cap pulled down over his ears, cigarette smoke emerging in clouds from behind his graying beard. He was pacing the deck as he often did, walking on the wooden benches, followed closely by his hyperactive little black poodle. Seeing us, he stubbed out his cigarette, came into the room in a gust of cold, and made his round of hugs. “Rachelieu,” he said—pleased as always with the nickname he’d found for me—as he wrapped me in his big smoky arms.

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