There is no experience quite as agonizingly thrilling as the anticipation of winter break—in fifth grade, college or otherwise. Between holiday shindigs, festive sweaters and an ever-increasing list of people to find presents for, finding the time (or brain capacity) to focus on school is hardly justifiable when Santa is on his way.
In elementary school, the last day before winter break always seemed both wildly unnecessary and blissfully indispensable. Unlike the tantalizingly long days leading up to it, recess that day felt a little longer, the lunch aids let us talk a little louder and the end of the day was invariably accompanied by a hot chocolate-fueled reading of The Polar Express.
Oh, and the candy canes!
Like the first gift of Christmas described in the classic story, the festive simplicity of the cellophane-wrapped candy distributed to every student in the class was as much a symbol of the excitement to come as it was a treat to be enjoyed in the moment. Rather than devouring it like a mound of gifts under the tree Christmas morning, I slowly and thoughtfully licked away the candy’s red stripes until the tip resembled an ice pick—if savored properly, the candy cane could last at least until the school bus arrived that afternoon.
Unlike the tangible treats of elementary school Christmases past, the first gift of my collegiate Christmases comes in the form of nothingness—a phantom limb-like concept that leaves me anxiously reaching for my planner in anticipation of some fictitious upcoming deadline. Yet, as I stared out the window on my way home from school this week and tried to conjure up stories to summarize the semester, I found myself losing track of its eventfulness and instead thinking to myself, Wait… That was it?
Five semesters down, three more to go.
As it stands, I am three days, two cookies and one book-read-for-fun into my winter break, and although I’ve been celebrating Christmas since the beginning of November, it officially (and finally) feels like the holiday season. The blustery winter weather feels a little bit cozier when coupled with the soft glow of a decorated Christmas tree and the warm aromas of sugar cookies and caramel popcorn, and being able to snuggle with my dog every morning is a gift I plan on savoring a few weeks longer than I’ve ever made my hazardous candy canes last.
P.S. While I’m on the subject, for those of you who will be crossing paths with me while I’m home…
Here is a comprehensive list of my answers to frequently-asked questions:
- It’s great!
- I know, it’s crazy.
- No, not anymore.
- Yes, I still do.
- I’m not sure yet.
- I have no idea.
- Not very much.
- I know, I should.
- No, I don’t.
- Yes, I do.
- Thank you for asking.
And now, my question for you: What are your Merry Musings this week?