Staying home for the holidays

It’s strange when you’ve only got yourself to blame for the pickle you’re in. I’ve chosen to stay put for the holidays, knowing full well that I dread the thought of it. Peace will be hard to find. 

Winter in my hometown oscillates between a nippy sixteen degrees, and a balmy twenty-five. Around Christmas, the streets are decorated festively, and a whole host of seasonal activities and sweets are on the offer. Better still, everyone’s home and has nowhere to be. 

Why then don’t I head home for the holidays? I know myself far too well. It’ll just be an excuse to leave my responsibilities behind at Schiphol Airport, and while the days away with deeply enjoyable, yet ultimately idle pastimes. All that, only to return like a fatted calf, completely unprepared for exam week.

It’s not that I’m guessing that that’s what’s going to happen; I know for certain that it is. The empirical evidence bears it out as well. The fact of the matter is that for three years, I’ve effectively paid for my tickets home with ECTS. 

Mercifully, Groningen is a city with many open doors.

So I’ve done the sensible thing, and traded in quality time with my family for the exquisite company of Sydsæter et al. (2008), and Dobson and Barnett (2018). I have three weeks to get stuck in, and to focus on not thinking about all the fun I could’ve been having, had I picked my heart over my head. 

Sure, in the bigger picture, and compared to the terrible difficulties faced by other people elsewhere, three weeks in semi-isolation is nothing; and I’ll be able to say that with absolute conviction when they have passed. In the meanwhile, however, I’m not exactly jubilant at the prospect. 

Mercifully, Groningen is a city with many open doors. In my time here, I’ve gotten to know some lovely people, and have run up unpayable debts of gratitude. I can’t think of better company as we remember the birth of the Saviour; when Light shone in the midst of darkness. 

By every metric, winter break is going to be a somber affair. Fortunately, our joy needn’t be governed by statistics or opportunity costs. Far better to grab the nearest lifeline, and make the best of it. Happy holidays!


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