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The Mass Media

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Winter Vacation Vainglory

Winter Break Fun




Summer vacation is great. It’s hot enough for beach-going and long enough for road trips. Winter vacation, however, our crucial break between fall and spring sessions, is even better.

For one thing, winter vacation is an entire season of holidays. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, the winter solstice, or some other less-publicized but similarly important holiday, one of the defining features of this time is gift-giving–whether that is the gift of family gatherings or gifts of actual presents stuffed under trees and handed out in the candlelight. Who doesn’t like family gatherings? Who doesn’t like gifts?

Okay, family gatherings can be a pain, but we all agree that presents are great.

Whether or not you celebrate the most consumerist holiday of them all, everything seems to be alight with Christmas twinkles. Suddenly, dull neighborhood streets are bedazzled with flashes of emerald, cobalt, gold, and ruby-red.

The scenic renewal each snowfall brings is a personal favorite. Sure, the snow on the edge of the road becomes a plaque-like mess, but new snow makes everything look fresh.

Often accompanying these festivities of gift-giving, decoration, and frigid weather is one of America’s favorite pastimes: excessive consumption! Ham, pork, potatoes (au gratin or mashed), cherry pie, ice cream and eggnog all fill our tables. And we just finished digesting our Thanksgiving turkey.

So far winter break has the edge.

Summer vacation has at least one food-themed holiday, it’s true. The Fourth of July is an awesome excuse to pig out on red meat and cheese–as if Americans need an excuse. But, other than that, what holidays come in the summer? Only Memorial Day and one more dreaded holiday: Labor Day.

Without getting into the specifics of Labor Day, everyone knows what it means. It either means nothing because you’re working year-round and it doesn’t even matter, or it means that school is coming. Whose bright idea was it to put a so-called holiday so close to the start of school?

What about that length? Surely the duration of summer vacation earns it a rightful place ahead of the upcoming break. In reality, though, the seeming brevity of the upcoming few weeks is a pro and not a con.

When we come back from summer break, the summer brain has fully supplanted the student brain. Three months of stagnation makes returning to school twice as hard as it needs to be, unless you attended classes in the summer. The first day of classes after summer is usually pretty easy, but by classes two and three, things start getting challenging. Students are expected to write about Immanuel Kant, when three weeks ago the only thing they had to think about was the SPF of their sunscreen.

Winter vacation, on the other hand, is just long enough to rest you up like a good nap without the full, unbearable grogginess of a long night’s sleep. The weather makes for fun, too. You can’t make snowmen or snow-women in the summer, after all, or attempt to make an angel unless you want sand up your swim trunks. Rather than visiting theme parks or spending a bundle at Water Country, parents and students can lubricate some trash-can lids and sled down steep hills towards oncoming traffic-thrilling.

There are even a couple good sledding spots at UMB. The hill between the Campus Center and the Science Building is an obvious one. This well-traveled spot can be quite slippery. If you like a steeper slope but with a little more danger from traffic, the roadside hills beside Lot A are dangerously fun.

Maybe this is a seasonal bias; most people don’t like winter. It’s too cold, the snow is all messy, bundling up is a pain, and so on. But with the right attitude, any vacation can be a blast. This winter break, if you hate the cold, consider snuggling up with a close friend or significant other and watching some trashy holiday-themed movies. I’m sure you’ll have a blast.