Thanksgiving was last week, and the arrival of that holiday always marks the end of the fall quarter. Typically though I spend the last week(s) of November and the early weeks of December frantically working on all the things that I put off during the quarter, most notably service work and research. I tend to see the time away from teaching as a way to get ahead in all the other things I have to do, and as a result, I usually arrive in Arizona just before Christmas completely exhausted.

This year, for the first time in a long time, my mother took a vacation to Chicago. She’s never visited for Thanksgiving, so I took the opportunity to step away from work almost entirely. Yes, I graded the final exams since students shouldn’t have to wait to see how they did, but otherwise I blew everything off for nearly a week. I hung out with my mother, daughter, and partner, cooked, shopped, and even caught up on shows I’d recorded but never viewed. It was tough to do at first, especially since many of my colleagues at other institutions are still in the middle of their term, but I stayed strong.

Now that my mother is gone and I’m returning to work, I’m finding myself in a completely different mindset than I was a week ago. I’m excited about getting things done, and looking forward to the 2 1/2 weeks I have left before Christmas. I’m enjoying my work, and I think I’m more efficient now. I need to find time for more mini-vacations. And, yes, a week will be hard to do. But a couple of days shouldn’t be, and I’d like to do that more often.