My Uncle Tom writes the most amazing Christmas letters. Yes, letters. Sure, now, they arrive in e-mail form, sandwiched in between a confirmation from Dollar Shave Club and a lopsided fantasy football trade offer—but to me, they’re still personal newsletters, the same ones I waited for when I was a kid.
That probably sounds a little silly, which I get. My uncle only lived an hour and a half from me, and usually, days after the letter arrived, I would see him in person at our annual holiday celebration.
Still, I was there for the stories.
Many of them were ones that I had probably already been aware of in passing—the trip they’d made to Disney World, the Eagle Scout project he’d completed with one of my cousins—nuts-and-bolts narratives that may not have made me stop to linger in conversation.
But in the letter, they were nuanced and vivid, oftentimes serving as foils for Tom’s subtle self-deprecation, or in my favorite cases, overt roasting of my cousins’ juvenile rationale. Looking back, I realize I became fascinated by how these simple anecdotes could serve as the skeleton for clever storytelling. I’d read Twain, but probably not as intently as I had Tom. They were personal landmarks for me—not just because I could connect in real life with the characters—but after becoming a writer, I realize I am essentially aping my uncle in this space each month.
Instead of cousins, it’s Columbus.
I’m proud that we are able to present this city and this magazine as a similar collection of characters, and that we have the editorial real estate to examine them in a deeper way.
You may have already set foot in the Columbus Museum of Art’s new wing, but inside, you get to read local architect Michael Bongiorno’s visionary approach to updating the historic space.
Or you may remember the name Estaban Weaver, and perhaps you even watched him become the best high school basketball player in the country nearly two decades ago, but now, you’ll get to know the real story behind his fall from grace—and his real name.
In addition, this month’s Columbus 100 offers an extended rundown of 2015’s most interesting stories, especially those taking place in a particularly eventful back half of the year. (Remember: the last time we went to press we didn’t know who our next mayor would be and were potentially going to have legal weed).
Now, my Uncle Tom reads my letters—our stories—an honor not lost on me as I sit down to do this for the nearly the 100th time. A few weeks after you read this, he and I will pour some of my grandfather’s whiskey and toast to another year full of weird and whimsical characters, their quirks and their quests overlapping with our own experiences.
Speaking of overlapping—I couldn’t resist publishing the photo above, me trying to float a jump-hook over Estaban Weaver, arguably one of the best basketball players in Ohio history. We got to chat about what his life has been like since being sought by just about every major college program 22 years ago, and as I futilely attempted a handful of weak fadeaways into his giant hands, we realized we both played in the same league all those years ago.
He’s still a baller, and I am still the guy much more cut out to be a sports writer.
Yet, here we are, connected by Columbus and by a shared experience.
I can’t wait to go chase down the next one.
Happy Holidays, ya’ll.
Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief