Thanksgiving break is a wonderful part of the academic calendar. For five long days, students across the country are given time off from classes to visit family, enjoy a celebratory meal, watch football, and just relax. Oh, and catchup on all the assignments that were skipped when too busy earlier in the term. And write papers. And let’s not forget about studying for finals that are less than two weeks away.
The truth is, Thanksgiving break is a unique blend of extreme vegetation and intense productivity. On the one hand, the term is almost over and we need a break. Unlike the diocesan seminarians and lay students that go home for holidays, religious communities tend to stay together and celebrate within their fraternities. This means that there is no stress in packing, traveling, or sleeping on a couch in a house not your own. Community life continues, but prayers are pushed back to allow people extra time to sleep in, the daily grind slows as ministries and classes take some time off, and guys are a little more willing to spend the day playing a game, watching a movie, or just relaxing in the rec-room with a beer. It is a very relaxing time. On the other hand, the term is almost over and we have already taken too many breaks! Two weeks from today, I will [hopefully] have handed in two papers, taken three tests, passed one oral exam, and given one reflection. For that to happen, I have to catch up on the many articles and books that I have not read sufficiently enough (or at all), study the stuff I have, and pray that I learned something by the end. It is a very stressful time.
Taken together, Thanksgiving break is the “calm before the storm.” It’s a time of catching up and looking forward. Sure we have a lot due in the next two weeks, but we have five days free right now to get a lot of it done, and to have some fun in the meantime. So how am I spending it right now? With a study guide in front of the fire on a cold rainy/snowy day. Pretty good to me! I’m looking forward to a great meal and fellowship with my brothers tomorrow, and taking my time getting this work done all weekend.
I want to conclude by saying that I am thankful for all of you who read this blog, all who keep me in your daily prayers, and all who have been instrumental in my vocational journey. You have been a blessing to me over these past three years. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and remember, it is ultimately God who deserves all of our thanks and praise!