The winter break should have been longer. I envied kids in the southern hemisphere because they got Christmas or whatever December holidays they celebrated if they had any, right in the middle of summer. Having to go to school in the summer didn’t seem so bad to me because I figured in Australia or Brazil the weather was pretty much summer all the time, sort of like living in Florida, so it’s not as though they were missing out on anything. In the northern hemisphere summer school is a punishment, a purgatory for kids who flunked something vital like math or shop class so badly but whose parents didn’t want them to be held back. In the southern hemisphere summer school is just school. Granted the winter break seemed like it stretched on forever because it spanned not just two whole months but two whole years, and compared to Thanksgiving and Easter holidays that were just a couple of days at most the winter break that stretched out for two whole weeks seemed at the start almost like an eternity until it was over and then it seemed like hardly any time at all, not even long enough to get bored with whatever we’d gotten for Christmas. And I realize that part of it was going back to school in the middle of winter. At least in the fall we’d go back to school just as the weather was changing, or at least as it was supposed to change; since this was Tennessee summer lasted through the middle of October, but that’s another story. The winter break just pulled us out of school toward the end of dull, gray, cold December where we at least had Christmas to look forward to and sent us back to school at the beginning of dull, gray, cold January with nothing to look forward to but dull, gray, cold February and slightly less dull, gray, cold March and perhaps there were months beyond that were brighter and warmer but our bodies and brains were wrapped up in so much cotton we couldn’t imagine that far. And all through grade school we were going back to the same classes, the same schedule, we’d been on before. It wasn’t like the fall and starting over when everything was new and there was a chance to start over. Coming back from winter break meant coming back to the same crappy chewed up pencils, getting back the exams we’d all failed because no one could concentrate on anything school-related in late December, and the baloney sandwich I’d forgotten in my locker. At least in college going back after the winter break meant the start of a new semester, new classes, but then it was hard to make that shift in the cold. I should have picked a college in Australia.
Here’s a winter back to school poem.
Insecurity is like acne: at its worst when we need it least,
But it still pops up unexpectedly throughout our life.
We can be impeccably decked, our hair coiffed and our pants creased,
And still be filled with interior strife.
And even the most grizzled and avuncular
Will occasionally be stricken by lesions carbuncular.
Why can we never be happy with ourselves as we are?
And why must we pop that pustule when we know it’ll leave a scar?
They’re afflictions we associate with adolescence
And yet they drag on all through senescence.
Insecurity and acne hound us as life’s trails we wend,
Like a poem whose writer can’t figure out how to end.