It’s difficult to say goodbye to the holiday season (although, according to its origins it’s not over yet!). While the church still recognizes a couple more days until Epiphany—which until recent times was more important than Christmas—the secular “work world” is back to usual after New Year’s Day. 2021 started with a bonus, giving us a long weekend as well. In any case, getting back to normal time is always a difficult transition. For those of us who spent many years in academia, the holidays began about mid-December, and in my case, stretched fairly well into January. Now, using a combination of vacation days and floating holidays, I’m able to set up a mini semester break of a couple of weeks. Although I have trouble sleeping in, I was still able to spend the days with family and not worrying about business.
There is a difference in the quality of time off. Some, I suspect, are eager to get back to work. For me this first Monday back is difficult to face. Some would argue that the difference in time quality is merely a subjective projection. There is nothing scientifically changed from the last two weeks to the reality of the first Monday back. This is one of those places where religion steps in as the more understanding boss (such instances are rare, so appreciate them while you can!). Sacred time is taken very seriously by any number of religious traditions. Even our beloved weekends have a basis in religious observance. Holidays, even in a secular setting, are opportunities to recharge. For me the spring semester was something I never dreaded. We’ve allowed capitalism to take precedence over sacred time.
The problem with ordinary time is its mundanity. Looking back, I’d been anticipating the holiday season with its time off for well over a month. A full twelfth of the year. To help with the transition, with my family I spent some weekend time cobbling together a personalized Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. Knowing I have good books in the future helps immensely, although I have much less time to read when work takes up much of my waking time. Even that new start can’t be scientifically measured. It’s something unique to human minds. January begins with endings. No matter how difficult 2020 may have been, at least it ended with a relaxing couple of weeks with family and no pressures to sit in front of a computer screen for over nine hours a day. There will be more holidays ahead, and each one of them will be sacred time.