With little more than a week left before winter break, the halls are filled with equal measure eagerness and dread. Dreams of snowball fights and presents are close enough to taunt us, but closer still are our exams, essays, lab reports, and numerous other assignments.
Amidst the stress that comes with the end of the first semester, it is easy to put on blinders and hunker down with review packets and textbooks until the flurry of assessments is past, only afterwards emerging into the holiday season. But Winter Break is not the antithesis of work. We do not focus on our schoolwork now and delay holiday joy for later.
We could say Christmas is what happens between first and second semester. We could say Christmas consists of routine customs and high fourth quarter revenue reports. We could wrap Christmas up in a dozen different ways, all of which would close us off from the spirit of appreciation and communion which is the hallmark of that which is really Christmas. Christmas requires a certain attitude that is not constrained by time or location and certainly must not be put aside while we test and study. If we put off gratefulness for the world, people around us, and, if it is our religious inclination, Christ until the convenience of Winter Break, we will never have it. Present wrapping can wait; love cannot. Now, when we are most sleep-deprived and short-tempered, is the time we most need to be thankful and patient. Any mentality that we are really going to embrace needs to be embraced immediately and in the most conflicting of circumstances.
In addition to having goodwill for those around us, when we might like most to brush them aside, there are a thousand ways to make Christmas close in the whirlwind that is the last week before break. Though we are burying our noses in our latest paper drafts, we should also raise them to the delicious scents wafting from Mr. T. Smith’s Winter Ball dishes. Though our eyes are flying through flashcards, we should also lift them to the beautifully lit ceiling of Ridgeview’s lobby. Though we are orally reviewing for our tests, we should also listen to the bewitching preparations for the winter concerts drifting from the music hallway.
3 o’clock on Tuesday will be the magical moment when every paper is turned in, every test completed, and every person, students and teachers alike, sighing with relief. We will be temporarily released from our educational obligations to celebrate the season with carols and cousins, lights and laughing. But we will only be manifesting more obviously that which we have held in our hearts for a long time.
It is hard to see through to Christmas because our present schoolwork is so close and encircling. But being close to our work does not preclude us from being close to Christmas; it gives us an opportunity to bring joy where it is needed.