For the first time in 22 years, I spent a major family holiday away from my family. I thought that it was going to be slightly traumatic; I mean, I know that I’m supposed to be an adult, but there is something about just heading home for the holidays. When we first moved to College Station, we were told that the Aggie family is a very strange and powerful thing. And at that point I thought we understood it, especially when people said ‘howdy’ to us on the street, held open doors and waved as they drove by. But what I didn’t understand were things like Bonfire, and the people who take you in when you don’t have your own family to be with for the holidays. We spent the night before Thanksgiving celebrating with an older couple with whom we had stayed with when we first arrived. After a mountain of delicious turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoe casserole and 2–count them–2 helpings of my first experience with pecan pie… we were truly and honestly accepted as part of the family. It was wonderful.
But now Thursday, the actual day of Thanksgiving, was back to business. The game was at 7, so after a Thanksgiving lunch with another couple with the NSE program, we were off!
Disclaimer: I’ve been to Autzen, and I know what they mean when they say that the architecture of the building is what causes the noise to be so incredible. But I will say, when there is 82,000 screaming Fightin’ Texas Aggies in the stands without specialized architecture, it beats anything my poor ears have ever been up against.
The game was like a prelude to the Civil War the following Thursday: we came out with a bang, scoring a pair of touchdowns to put us ahead going into the second half. But with a missed fieldgoal and some defensive breakdowns, the game ended poorly on the Aggie’s behalf.
This year was also the 10th anniversary of the Bonfire Collapse and mass tragedy, in which 12 students were trapped and killed under a massive 57-foot-high stack of logs only a week before the big game and Thanksgiving Day. Before the game began, some of the memories were rehashed: The UT band raising the Texas A&M flag as they finished their halftime performance, and a massive sense of support from the fiercely competitive rivals.
I definitely missed my family this Thanksgiving, no doubt about it. But I also can’t deny the emotion I felt as a family accepted us into their home, and when I saw the support that two schools, who could never be on the same side, join together in remembrance and memorial of a horrible loss that had a major impact on the student body. I wasn’t even here, nor even knew about the collapse, but my eyes still misted over at the thought of the compassion and humanity that is stronger than a 100 year rivalry. It’s something that each of us can take a little something away from.