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A Not So Holly Holiday Season: Why Going Home for Winter Break Can be Hard on Students

When the Christmas cookies and Latkes just don't hit this year.

CREDIT: Stereogum


“I don’t mean to hate December,” croons Phoebe Bridgers in her cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.”

The statement in itself is somehow sacrilegious. A form of betrayal despite no act of betrayal being made: How can anyone hate December?

Chocked full of holidays, designated family time and an excuse to be capitalistic pigs in declining malls, December has come to symbolize a time of relaxation, appreciation and indulgence throughout various cultures.

For students, December is a battlefield.

Conquer final exams and projects, and a well-deserved break awaits…In your hometown.

The concept of winter break makes sense. After an entire semester of “go-go-going,” you would assume that college students are itching to return home during the holidays.

But, once they return home and the adrenaline wears off from finals week, something starts to feel off. As the monotony of hometown life sets in, the intermission has begun.

During an intermission, students realize that they have been uprooted from their independence and placed into an environment they have outgrown. As the days begin to blur together, parental figures start forgetting their boundaries, sleep schedules become more absurd and high school jumpscares await around every corner. (Why is the gym such a scary place?) Your childhood bedroom has ceased to feel like a safe haven and now exhibits a time capsule of the ghosts of high school’s past.

The real villain in this story, however, is leisure time. With nothing else to keep students occupied, issues repressed during the semester for the sake of education start to emerge. Thoughts run rapidly, and obsessive spirals arise as a byproduct of too much time.

While the holidays do garner joy for a vast majority of people, twenty-something students often encounter feelings of helplessness in an environment that inhibits control.

The upside of this phenomenon is that this is a shared experience for many college students and that there are ways to combat this limbo feeling.

The combination of a slower-paced environment, colder weather and Daylight savings can naturally lead to feeling more lethargic during the holidays. Therefore, it’s important to be kind to yourself if you sleep a few extra hours a day or struggle a little bit more to focus on an application for the upcoming semester.

Also, there’s a reason why winter break is called winter break. This is a period created by our universities to allow us time to relax in the wake of a bustling semester—so use it! The education system has conditioned us to always push ourselves to better our career/academic condition. But take a break, and don’t guilt trip yourself for binge-watching “The Bear” in one day.

To avoid falling back into bad habits or to stop the days from blurring together, make daily lists of goals and a ‘To-Do’ schedule for long-term break objectives. This creates a positive sense of urgency to complete productive tasks and dampens the self-inflicted perception of being ‘lazy.’

Returning home can reopen wounds that took months to heal at school. So, the holidays can end up being a greater stressor for students who have to deal with unresolved family or hometown problems. For settled issues, they’re settled. Only you can decide to dwell in the past. If you can’t move forward, take this time to process and reflect on how to move on finally.

For the unresolved, determine if it’s worth it for your own sake to fix a problem that has persisted throughout the semester. Consider these questions: Is it my responsibility to fix it? Can I even fix it at all? If I feel obligated or want to, what is the best course of action for others and for myself?

The concept of home can be confusing if you move out to attend school. The reality of growing up is understanding that the holidays don’t erase perpetuating and newly cultivated concerns.

So, in the last week of break, let's try to enjoy and grow within this intermission period.

And by enjoy, let’s binge-watch movies, TV shows and books without guilt before the chaos of Sylly Week and the new semester.


Allie Sinkovich is an Online Writer for Rowdy Magazine. You can find her in the Education Library drinking Opus Coffee instead of doing her schoolwork.


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