Winter Break Musings

Winter Break Musings

Putting the "Break" Back into Winter
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This winter break, I have heard of two friends getting married, one getting engaged, several settling on their plans for post-graduation, and two more actually graduating. That being said, with everyone else seemingly figuring out their lives, it's hard to not feel like I'm somehow behind.

But I think that's where I miss the importance of winter break. Even writing this article by the deadline, in a way, is breaking the sacred, unstructured sweetness that winter break used to retain.

I'm talking about the snow-day-like, seemingly interminable winter break of my youth. I'm dreaming of the days that smelled of cinnamon brooms, evergreen bows, and hot cocoa, days spent lounging around my house in pajamas next to a stack of newly discovered treasures from the library. Days that started slowly, sans alarm clock, days that lingered on sledding hills, days that ended after midnight when the novel hit a lull. Golden days. Glory days.

And, as a senior, this is my last foreseeable month-long winter break for a while (maybe ever?), and I should be enjoying it. I'm really trying to, and I have to keep reminding myself that winter break needs to be just that--a break. It's a space that one should use to rest and regain energy.

It's a time to think about the future and dream and hope. It's a time to de-stress, to binge watch that Netflix show you've been dying to see with your sisters, to bake, to plan, to make friendship bracelets, to doodle. It's a time to form good habits or get back into old ones (like running...oops). And maybe I'm being nostalgic about wishing for days of old.

Maybe break should be a little of everything--chill time with family and friends with time to focus on jobs and capital-L "Life." I suppose that's the important thing, too: break is what one chooses to make of it. Take a break or break yourself, it's really up to you. CJB

Cover Image Credit: weknowyourdreams.com

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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155 Songs You Have To Add To Your 'Lake Days' Playlist This Summer

"Alexa, play my Lake Days playlist."

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Whether you're fishing at the lake, floating in your pink flamingo float, or just cruisin' on the boat, these are songs that you have to have on your summer lake playlist.

1. All The Pretty Girls by Kenny Chesney

2. American Kids by Kenny Chesney

3. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain

4. Anything Goes by Florida Georgia Line

5. Bait A Hook by Justin Moore

6. Ballad of Curtis Loew by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

7. Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen

8. Beat of the Music by Brett Eldredge

9. Beat This Summer by Brad Paisley

10. Beautiful Drug by Zac Brown Band

11. Beer Can by Luke Combs

12. Big Star by Kenny Chesney

13. Blue Tacoma by Russel Dickerson

14. Boondocks by Little Big Town

15. Boot Scootin' Boogie by Brooks & Dunn

16. Born to Love You by LANCO

17. Brand New Man by Brooks & Dunn

18. Break Up With Him by Old Dominion 

19. Burnin' Up by Jonas Brothers

20. Bury Me In Dixie by Riley Green

21. Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake

22. Chasin' That Neon Rainbow by Alan Jackson

23. Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson

24. Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band

25. Chillin' It by Cole Swindell

26. Closer by The Chainsmokers

27. Crash and Burn by Thomas Rhett

28. Craving You by Thomas Rhett

29. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend by Miranda Lambert

30. Creepin by Eric Church

31. Cricket On a Line by Colt Ford

32. Cruise by Florida Georgia Line

33. David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs by Travis Denning

34. Dayum, Baby by Florida Georgia Line

35. Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band

36. Dibs by Kelsea Ballerini

37. Dirt on My Boots by Jon Pardi

38. Dirty Little Secret by The All-American Rejects

39. Dixieland Delight by Alabama

40. Don't Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers

41. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

42. Don't Tempt Me by Luke Combs

43. Don't Ya by Brett Eldredge 

44. Drink In My Hand by Eric Church

45. Drinkin' Again by Corey Smith

46. Drinkin' Bone by Tracy Byrd

47. Drunk Me by Mitchell Tenpenny 

48. Drunk on A Plane by Dierks Bentley

49. Drunk on Your Love by Brett Eldredge 

50. Dust on the Bottle by David Lee Murphy 

51. Eight Second Ride by Jake Owen

52. Family Tradition by Hank Williams Jr.

53. Fancy by Reba McEntire 

54. Find Out Who Your Friends Are by Tracy Lawrence 

55. Firecracker by Josh Turner

56. Fishin' In the Dark by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

57. Flatliner by Cole Swindell

58. Forever by Chris Brown

59. Free Drinks by Faren Rachels

60. Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks 

61. G.R.I.T.S. by Brantley Gilbert

62. Georgia Peaches by Lauren Alaina

63. Georgia Time by Riley Green 

64. Get Me Some of That by Thomas Rhett

65. Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line

66. Good Directions by Billy Currington

67. Guys Like Me by Eric Church 

68. Heads Carolina, Tails California by Jo Dee Messina

69. Heartache on the Dance Floor by Jon Pardi 

70. Hell Raisin' Heat of the Summer by Florida Georgia Line 

71. Here for the Party by Gretchen Wilson

72. Here's to Never Growing Up by Avril Lavigne 

73. Hicktown by Jason Aldean

74. Hoedown Throwdown by Miley Cyrus

75. Honey, I'm Home by Shania Twain

76. Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Adkins

77. Honky Tonk Highway by Luke Combs

78. Hope You Get Lonely Tonight by Cole Swindell

79. House Party by Sam Hunt

80. Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Every Day by Luke Bryan

81. Hurricane by Luke Combs

82. I'm In a Hurry by Alabama

83. I'm Still a Guy by Brad Paisley 

84. If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie by Hank Williams Jr. 

85. If I Could Do It Again by Corey Smith

86. If It Don't Help by Drew Parker

87. If You're Gonna' Play in Texas by Alabama

89. Indian Outlaw by Tim McGraw

90. Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp

91. Joker by Steve Miller Band 

92. Kerosene by Miranda Lambert

93. Ladies Love Country Boys by Trace Adkins

94. Little Bitty by Alan Jackson

95. Lost by Chris Young 

96. Louisiana Saturday Night by Mel McDaniel

97. Love Me Like You Mean It by Kelsea Ballerini

98. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! by Shania Twain

100. Memories Are Made Of by Luke Combs

103. Old Town Road by Lil Nas X

104. Out There by Luke Combs

105. Parking Lot Party by Lee Brice

106. Party People by Florida Georgia Line

107. Pontoon by Little Big Town

108. Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard

109. Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson

110. Redneck Yacht Club by Craig Morgan

111. Round Here by Florida Georgia Line

112. Same Old Song by Riley Green 

113. Save Water, Drink Beer by Chris Young

114. She Got The Best of Me by Luke Combs

115. She's In Love With The Boy by Trisha Yearwood

116. Shut Your Mouth by Muscadine Bloodline

117. Smoke a Little Smoke by Eric Church 

118. Sold by John Michael Montgomery 

119. Some Beach by Blake Shelton

120. Somethin' Bad by Miranda Lambert 

121. Something In Your Mouth by Nickelback

122. Song of the South by Alabama

123. Sorority Girl by Luke Bryan

124. Southern Boy Cure by Muscadine Bloodline

125. Sugar, We're Goin Down by Fall Out Boy

126. Summer Jam by Jake Owen 

127. Summer Nights by Rascal Flatts

128. Summertime by Kenny Chesney 

129. Sundaze by Florida Georgia Line

130. Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset, Repeat by Luke Bryan

131. Suntan City by Luke Bryan

132. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

133. T-R-O-U-B-L-E by Travis Tritt

134. Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo by Tracy Byrd

135. That Ain't My Truck by Rhett Akins

136. There Was This Girl by Riley Green 

137. This Is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line

138. Toes by Zac Brown Band

139. Up All Night by Jon Pardi

140. Up Down by Morgan Wallen

141. Vacation by Sam Hunt

142. Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd

143. What Kinda Gone by Chris Cagle

144. When It Rains It Pours by Luke Combs

145. Where I Come From by Alan Jackson

146. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound by Hank Williams Jr.

147. Whiskey Glasses by Morgan Wallen

148. Who's Cheatin Who by Alan Jackson

149. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Ben Under by Shania Twain

150. Wild One by Faith Hill

151. Yes Indeed by Lil Baby & Drake

152. Young by Kenny Chesney 

153. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

154. 19' Somethin' by Mark Wills

155. 1985 by Bowling For Soup

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