Winter break never seems like a break to me. I go from teaching to grading to family holiday to new year to syllabus building back to teaching. The stack of books I picked to read over the three weeks sits unmoved on my desk; the chapters of my book I intended to write, remain in my head; my house bears the hurricane chaos of last semester’s papers commingled with gift wrapping, garlands, and gifts I have no idea where to house. My mind and my space are messes that defy resolution by the beginning of the spring semester.
It’s here where I should add the cliché that I need a vacation from my vacation. But the truth is that there’s a little bolthole in winter break that doesn’t let me accomplish but rather renew: the space between midnight Jan 1 and the first Monday of the year. This is a magic time where I feel like I have permission to ignore the push and pressure of life obligations and hunker into a rhythm of rest. Planning and work can be done during this time, but in a desultory way that allows me to break off if I want and dream a bit. The dreaming is important for me. It lets my imagination and spirit expand, seeking out the possibilities that can’t bloom when there are deadlines.
This year I got lucky and had six days of this space between. And now today is that first Monday, on to house cleaning, syllabus building, email answering.