How have you decided to spend this holiday season?1

Are you recreating? Spending time with loved ones? Taking up other hobbies or interests you don’t usually get to pursue? Or maybe you’re planning to do some combination of all of these.

Too Many Things, Too Few Days

Or maybe the end of the year has crept up on you largely unnoticed. Maybe the hustle and bustle of the regular demands on you have left you with more to do than you have year left. And that’s besides the additional demands of a vaguely upcoming soon holiday season that’s now at the doorstep.

Even if the holiday has sneaked up on you, though, I’d encourage you not to let it pass without pausing to look up.

There’s more to life than your current slate of academic obligations, other work demands, or your next upcoming project. So, carve out some time to say “yes” to what’s most important. You won’t regret it.

Preparing for Time Away

You can start with the simple steps I mentioned a few weeks ago.

  1. Prepare early. Sure, next time you’re planning to be away, you can plan farther ahead. But it’s never too late to start from where you are.
  2. Address others’ needs ahead of time. You might not be able to address a whole lot, but it’s pretty well the 11th hour anyhow. So, depending on what you hear back, you can negotiate whether it really needs to be done in the next couple days or whether it can wait into the new year.
  3. Plan for your time away. Especially if you’re running full speed ahead directly into time away, you might want to plan at the beginning of that time to decompress, as well as think and talk through how you want to invest the balance of the time you’ve carved out to be unplugged.
  4. Before you unplug fully, set up an auto-responder to let others know when you’ll start responding to them again after your time away.
  5. While you’re away, actually unplug. Enjoy the time with your loved ones or whatever extra-academic activities you’ve decided to pursue. Regular demands will soon pick back up again. So, take full advantage of the opportunity to savor the moments while you’re away.

As you go through this cycle, note what you want to improve the next time you’re preparing to be away. Making those changes over time will help make taking time away easier and more enjoyable.

If you’re facing this or other particular challenges, do please take just a couple minutes to let me know so that I can shape next year’s content accordingly.

Wishes for the Season

However you’re planning to spend the next few days, I particularly hope you’ll take the opportunity to join with “the few among the Niatirbians” in reflecting on and being grateful for the elements of truly lasting value in the season.

It can be a challenge to look up from the daily grind or “the rush” long enough to catch a solid glimpse of these elements. But it’s an effort well worth the undertaking.2


  1. Header provided image by Walter Chávez

  2. For the source of the video rendition below, see C. S. Lewis’s excellent essay “Xmas and Christmas,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 334–37. 

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.