I’m pumped for Christmas. The tree’s up, the stockings are on the mantel, Christmas movies have been playing each evening, the shopping is 95% done.
But I know, for a fact, that come December 26, it won’t be about holiday excitement anymore. It’ll be about winter break, and I’m dreading that. Dreading it real bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but there’s honestly only so much of them I can handle. I need school to break up the day, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting that.
Winter in Oregon is just muddy and cloudy, with a side of fog. It’ll be raining, I assure you. There will be no school to break up the day, no homework, just a family of five trapped inside the house, broke from spending all their money on gifts, all three kids going through Christmas excitement and candy withdrawals, itching for sugar, and slowly growing bored of their new toys.
When I was a child growing up in Utah, I remember my mother bundling us up, and pushing us outside into the snow. Then she locked the doors. All the parents did this. Sure, we had a sled. And yeah, sometimes she’d come outside with some food and hot chocolate, but for the most part it was understood that we were to play in the snow. She called it “getting fresh air” and sure, we got some air. But my older brother also put snow down my pants a number of times, I once hit my sister in the head with an ice ball, almost knocking her out, and my neighbor promised me a substantial amount of money to eat some questionable snow, which I did, and he laughed, but never paid.
It was survival of the fittest during winter break, something like John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, the Sci-Fi horror movie set in Antarctica that ends with a government building exploding and only two survivors, one of which might be an alien.
Parents could do stuff like that in the ‘80s without risk of nosey neighbors calling the cops. Now, in 2018, we are left watching the kids like hawks, trying to find ways to entertain them without shoving a tablet in their faces so they can contribute to Ryan’s ever-growing YouTube wealth (did you hear that kid made 22 million in 2018? WHAT?!)
Last year, on December 28, I clearly remember all three of my children sprawled out on the living room floor crying in unison, “I’m bored!” And I know some pearl-clutching mother is going to jump into the comment section with a list of ways they force their children to shape up or ship out, using boot camp style workouts, along with incentives, and by the end of winter break the whole family has learned calculus, and the children love them for it.
But if you are like the rest of us just taking it a day at a time, you are probably dreading winter break. At least to some extent.
Sure, we’ll make the best of it. My wife will plan some winter break cleaning that will get 20% accomplished. We might scrape together enough spare change to hit an indoor pool once or twice. There will be yelling and fighting, along with laughter and a hand full of wrestling matches between my kids. We might take down the holiday lights, and we might return a few toys. But honestly, if you got as bored reading that paragraph as I did writing it, you clearly understand my struggle.
Right now, right here, is where I’d usually pause and give you some tips to make winter break more tolerable, but I don’t know if that’s what we all need right now. I’ve been a father for 11 years, and I’ve tried so many ways to make winter break better, and each year I go into it with hope, only to have that plan ripped to shreds by my children, and suddenly I find myself locked in the pantry shoving handfuls of chocolate chips in my mouth, my children banging on the door.
What I have for you is this: It’s probably going to suck. There will be moments where it will suck less. Some of it will actually be enjoyable. But for the most part, it’s going to be a sucking suck-fest (did I use the word “suck” too much there? I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how else to express the pain of winter break).
But I must say, by admitting that to myself, I almost feel better prepared. It’s almost like I needed to hit rock bottom, and once I did, I can take comfort in knowing that I’m prepared for whatever might happen.
So hold strong, my friends. It will all soon be over, and you will have several more months before you have to face the dread the hell that is summer break.