We have arrived at that critical juncture, the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Why is this weekend so important; it is because back in the day we were halfway through the Christmas Break!
It seemed back in grade school, the usual plan to jump start the new semester was for the teachers to flood the schedule with tests. That worked, because I usually broke out the school books I had thrown into the corner of my bedroom and started ramping back up on my studies. Yikes, it seemed that we just quit studying. To make matters worse, when we arrive back at school, we would be receiving our report card for the third six weeks that ended with the Christmas break.
In high school, the semester end tests would be over and those grades as still unknown would be making up a big part of that report card. I would be furiously be trying to remember the questions and the answers I gave them so I could look them up and try to estimate how good or bad the news would be. For some crazy reason, I could remember only the questions with which I had trouble. Fortunately for me, the results were always better than my expectations.
College winter breaks were the worst of all, for they weren’t semester breaks at all. There were two or three weeks left when we came back, just enough time for another round of tests then the all important semester finals. These were particularly tough because the Christmas Break was only the second time since early September that I was home and I wanted to spend the entire time catching up with family and friends.
I remember a strange phenomena that first Christmas Break from college; for the first three or four days, it seemed that I was in a strange place. My mental orientation was focused on the geography of campus: eating in the Russell House cafeteria, walking to class and back to the dorm and spending time at the radio station. After a while, I would get into the home routine; sleeping in my own bedroom, eating at the family dining table and being with my family and friends. Upon return to school, the same thing happened in reverse.
Strangely enough I did not experience this during the period I traveled weekly all over the country for my work. Home geography remained at the center with the geographies of all the cities I visited attached at the edge. It was during this time that I learned that the harsh reality of northern winters was not the cold, snow and ice but rather the lack of sunshine between November and April. That and the fact that one could not get a good night’s sleep in a northern hotel in the midst of winter due to the noise of the snowplow clearing up the parking lot in the middle of the night. The best one could hope for is that the big pile of dirty snow blocking 4 or 5 parking spaces in the corner of the lot gets covered by new snowfall before you saw it in the morning.
One thing I used to wonder about is what happened on campus during the winter break. This is the only time that campus completely shuts down all year; the libraries are closed, the cafeterias are closed even Russell House is closed. Now I know! Tomorrow I’ll park for free in the parking garage in one of the good spaces, because it will be closed with the gates open. I’ll make my way to the station by an alternate route where my access card will open the necessary doors. There are no running elevators, so I will get my exercise walking up the Honors College stairs. There will be no air conditioning making noise so the studio will be very quiet and pretty warm. If things are normal, I’ll be the only one in the building. And that is a bit spooky, for, you see, Russell House makes noise all by itself. But that’s OK; I’ll be making more noise than the house does. Happy New Year, everyone! Oh MY!