The winter break officially started for us this week, which means that I won’t step into a classroom again until January 7th. This long break is the thing that most boggles the mind of semester-based academics as well the quarter-based academics who have a different organization of their year. This year is especially dramatic since Thanksgiving came early and we start later in January than usual. And while it is a long time to be free of teaching, it always gets crowded with things to do. There are papers to write, new projects to start, a scramble to catch up on all the service obligations that slipped through the cracks during the busy quarter, planning for the next quarter of teaching, and so much more. None of us ever lack for something to do during this time.
What I forget every year until I reach this point is how much contentment I feel during the winter break. Yes, I love teaching, and no, I would never want to permanently be away from the classroom. But stepping away from the grind of preparing class, writing assignments, grading, answering student questions, and assigning grades allows me to catch my breath. I get to work at home most days. My inbox isn’t flooded every morning with questions demanding my attention. And yet I have the energy and momentum for work that is usually burned out of me by the time summer rolls around. While I know I won’t get everything done that I hope to this break, I plan to revel in the feeling of contentment that comes from this happy convergence.