Compared to summer break, winter break was extremely productive.
This is still a relative comparison, meaning I was also unproductive during winter break. Just... not as unproductive. Whatever sleep I had completely lost during the last few weeks of first semester I was able to make up over break. In fact, I couldn't recall the last time I had slept so much until I realized that summer break existed.
And as the days have gone by and winter break has come to a close, I've realized that the sadness that comes with the end of winter break is much different than the blues that come with the end of summer.
Within literature, we are often taught that summer represents rebirth while winter represents death, and while I understand the interpretation to a great extent, both summer and winter can represent both birth and death. In a less philosophical statement, for me, what sets the two apart from one another are the memories that make up each, whether these are clear-cut, classic examples or reasons why each season stands out.
The last day of summer means jumping headfirst into a pool full of books and deadlines. It means giving up combating humid weather for staying inside, reading and writing as the weather transitions from warmth to freezing cold. The weight of sadness on that last morning before school begins can almost be considered dull. Yes, it tugs with that everlasting reminder that nothing lasts forever, but it's not sobering.
You're stuck in a haze of brushing your teeth, double-checking your backpack to make sure you still have everything you need, and then going back to watch TV. It hits you that school is starting, but it doesn't wake you up from the cycle you've instilled in your brain in the past two months. Which is why the next morning, when you wake up at 7 a.m. (and the sky is still dark outside), you're confused at how you got there. How your last two months sped by in a flash.
And when you think back to that last day of summer break a few months later, you remember absolutely nothing. It's as if the day is meant to be forgotten.
Could this state of being forgotten parallel with the fear of being forgotten after death? Maybe summer is widely considered a time of rebirth, but do you not feel more in despair at the end of summer than excited at the thought of having had time to rebuild yourself?
Fast forward from August (or September) to December, and semester one is finally over. Midterms are thrown in the back of one's mind as every single study session is out of memory, no longer necessary to remember now that break has begun.
Winter break for me (and even the midterms season right before it) is my favorite time of the year. It's cold outside, coffee shops become hot spots for study groups and everyone seems happier. Plus, the holiday season is well underway, so the holiday spirit is still hanging in the air.
Which is what seems to make that one week of studying, stressing and test-taking so memorable. I spend entire nights cramming for midterms but walk in the next morning seeing everyone holding bags with presents in them or holiday cards to give to their friends. There's this feeling of contentment hanging around that makes the late nights worth it. It's a wonderland disguised as a week of pain, which is one of the most fascinating things to me.
So once midterms are finished, all that's left for the year is break. The first time in four to five months that school is truly out. The memories of winter break are always so fresh in my mind because by this time, everyone's minds are racing with activity — ideas and plans for meeting up with friends and packing for vacations, among other things.
But once New Year's Day is over, the happiness vanishes. It's sobering.
You're slapped with the realization that whatever dream you've been in for the past two weeks is over, and it's time to prepare for second semester. The morning you wake up and realize it's the last day of winter break, your heart sinks. You can't watch anything on TV that day because you're thinking about the next day and the entire semester that comes with it.
You can't really think about much besides school starting again because you're not ready to jump back into the pool of books and deadlines. With the new year, you've told yourself you'll be a new and better person, but now that you're confronted with an opportunity to improve yourself, you're not willing to change.
The rebirth that you're forced to undergo as part of the end of winter break is the one thing that prepares you for the new semester. The sinking of your heart in your chest is only a side reminder that it's time to get back to work.
And as you compare the end of your summer break to the end of your winter break, you realize there's not much to take from the end of summer besides the cartoons playing on TV those final mornings. But the end of winter break? You remember everything that has somehow prepared you to dive back into the deep end of the now-frozen pool.