I’ve been proud of myself this year for taking the time to do seasonally appropriate activities as often as possible. Some years, I’m less careful, and I regret missing out on the best each season has to offer. This summer, my boyfriend and I went berry picking and got pints of the biggest blackberries I’ve ever seen in my life. Later, we picked apples, and in my quest to try every type of apple that was available, I came home with nearly 25 pounds! Around Halloween, we took an evening to visit a twilight corn maze, complete with complimentary hot cider and a cider doughnut. We even picked out a pumpkin and carved it, something I haven’t had a chance to do in a few years.
The trouble seems to be Christmas. Through college, and certainly in medical school, I’ve felt that the holiday season is incredibly compressed. I sometimes find it hard to enjoy the holiday spirit when I am overwhelmed with school work and studying. By the time the work is all done, the season is nearly over, with just a few days to pack in all the traditional activities that should have been done over the course of a month.
This year will bring the same challenges, since we are scheduled to have an exam on December 23rd. My family’s holiday traditions have always begun on the evening of the 23rd, so taking an exam that day and rushing home that evening would put a massive damper on the festivities. Fortunately, many students also expressed similar concerns, particularly students who live across the country, and we now have the option of taking the exam on the 22nd. Still though, it is hard to feel the spirit when the anxiety of studying, and then the fear of waiting for the grade to come back, permeates your subconscious. Even for regular exams outside of the holiday season, I often feel like I can’t enjoy myself until I know the results of the test. It’s made even worse if I’m not sure that I’ve done well.
So, knowing that my holiday season is compressed at best, I try to find bits of cheer when I can. I put up tiny Christmas trees in my apartment, little 12 inch tall trees on my windowsill and kitchen table, and I even have an USB tree that plugs into my computer. And I love to listen to music while I study, and there is certainly a great volume of holiday music to choose from. Sometimes in the depths of my studying it feels a little too cheerful, somewhat tauntingly so, and then I might switch to another genre for a break, but usually it is a great help!
Becoming an adult and moving closer and closer to the workforce is exciting, but it can come at the cost of full surrender to the childlike pleasures of the holidays and seasons in general. I’m working hard to keep the childlike spirit alive throughout my medical education, by making time for classic experiences throughout the year.