So you’ve finished finals. Congratulations! Those long hours spent trapped in the library like a dinosaur in a tar pit have finally paid off. You’ve struggled through to the other side, and created a long-standing testament to how much you, at one time, knew about endomitosis or the use of color during the Northern Renaissance. You confidently stride onto that waiting bus, plane, or car and begin the long journey Home, that mythical land of free food, huge beds, and old high school hookups. But wait! There are hidden dangers in that primordial soup you crawled out of that can ruin your whole break. Follow these five easy steps, and you too can spend your days in a winter wonderland and avoid that gnawing feeling of being in inter-semester limbo.
1. Be As Busy As Your Home Friends (No More, No Less)
It’s a fact that nobody likes to be told that they can’t see a home friend, especially after a month straight of separation (Thank God for Thanksgiving break). At the same time, all of those necessary jobs and internships can pile up and make for a stressful and FOMOtastic break. Coordinate with your bros/besties so that you’re all reaching the same work/play balance over break. If you can, try settling on two or three days a week of down-time in common, so you can all “fully enjoy” your month together. The wolfpack that hunts together lives through the winter.
2. Watch Where Your Tongue Is Stepping
Yes, you had a lot going on at school. Bobby Miller tried to run you over with his car. Christina might like you, but she might like your best friend’s boyfriend. This all qualifies as huge news within the quiet life of the college suburb, but back home the totality of situations expands far beyond your four year student lifecycle. Stories in your family and hometown play out over decades, and it can be hard to refrain from hurting feelings with a misspoken thought after three months out of the house. Take your interactions slowly until you’ve got a good handle on how situations have evolved in your absence.
3. Space Out Your Christmas Playlists
Christmas and Halloween are neck-and-neck as the most cinematic of Western holidays, and Christmas outdoes every other day of the year when it comes to being sung about. Every year, at least a dozen “seasonally appropriate” movies see release at theaters and on home video, and everybody and their mother puts out a Christmas album (Looking at you, Sufjan Stevens. TEN ALBUMS IS MORE THAN ENOUGH.). Make sure to curate your playlists and movie selections ahead of time, so you and your friends don’t get sick of the whole thing. My recommendation is to take it slow and stick to the perfect quartet: A Muppet Christmas Carol, Love, Actually, Die Hard, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This mix has just the right combination of whimsy, hope, Christmas spirit, and Bruce Willis. And by way of music, The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York, Christmas in Hollis, Feliz Navidad, and the Bing/Bowie “Little Drummer Boy” are good places to start a list. Christmas-themed pregames, consider yourselves soundtracked.
4. Lose Touch With Your College Friends
I know this seems counter-intuitive, but hear me out: You have six months out of the year to see these people. Do you think Persephone kept in touch with Hades while she was out of his kingdom? Hell no! She had her own thing going on, with trees and flowers and dancing. Now, there might not be any of that happening in your life in the depths of December (unless you live in Florida or some nonsense state like that), but the fact remains that your presence is a present to those around you, not those you might wish you were around. Don’t be afraid to lose yourself in your home life, and get busy building a social and economic base you can come back to in the summer and after graduation. Even if you’re absolutely intent on living in your college’s location after school ends, you have to be ready for that option to lose out to economic realities, like having to save rent by moving back home. Chatting (or worse, Skyping!) endlessly with your college friends will only detract from your hometown experience. Besides, think about how much fun you’ll have being reunited in mid-January and telling stories about what you did instead of not talking to them!
5. Relish It
It may not seem like it, but these Christmas breaks won’t last forever. Soon you’ll be out of school and at some lame job, worrying about the bottom line and living on your own. Christmas break is the perfect time to just unwind, take things slow, and be a total vagrant for a month at a time before the demands of schoolwork and summer internship-hunting reassert themselves. It’s one of the most relaxing things in the American life, and you only get four. I would end this by telling you to make every moment count, but that would be going against the point; that you don’t HAVE to make every moment count. You just have to count every moment. Merry Christmas break, babies. And a happy new year.