Sine Qua Nonsense

The Post-Thanksgiving Horror

Welcome to the craziest three weeks of the year!

In the spring semester, Spring Break is more or less half way through the semester, giving you a nice respite and energizing you for a few more weeks. The story is completely different in the fall.

You get to Thanksgiving Break tired and grumpy. You’ve been working and/or procrastinating for 13 weeks, with nothing but Labor Day and the measly Fall Break to give you any days off. If you don’t have classes on Mondays or Fridays, even those two won’t help you. Only the flu or playing hooky can keep you away from campus, but then you’d have to catch up, ask your friends what you’ve missed, or spend some quality time with the professor during office hours.

By the time Thanksgiving Break comes along, all your deadlines are approaching, sneaking up on you like a hungry wolf or cheetah or whatever the appropriate animal analogy would be. The projects you’ve been working on for a whole semester are supposed to come to fruition in under three weeks. You need time to breathe.

Thanksgiving Break is supposedly meant to give you just that – some breathing room. In reality, it either becomes a working vacation (for some) or a guilt-ridden procrastination fest (for most). You can’t really relax when you know you’ve got so much to do. Even if you’re walking around in your pajamas all day, catching up on the final season of Breaking Bad, sleeping weird hours and eating a lot of junk food, you’re not really laid back, not truly taking time off. You have your committee chair on one shoulder telling you to work and that friend you haven’t seen since elementary school on the other shoulder urging you not to neglect the Words with Friends game you have going on. You may obey the long lost friend, but you keep hearing your advisor even as you explore whether “gastromancy” is an acceptable word.

For graduate students, Thanksgiving Break is not about giving thanks. It is not about pilgrims and Native Americans. It is about making you taste a bit of freedom, making you want more of it, making you see a longer vacation over the horizon, that wonderful Winter Break. It is about making you more desperate, forcing you to work even harder during the last two weeks of classes and Finals Week, to finish all you need to finish, not to leave any Incompletes behind.

Look at the bright side. Perhaps you will not socialize as much as you usually do in the next few weeks, but eventually you’ll reach mid-December, when you’ll finally get a real vacation. Until then, you should hook up a caffeine line directly into your veins.

So, happy holidays, good luck with final papers and exams, and have a great winter break!


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