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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

19/12/2019

The last few years have seen some serious effort on my part to catch the first bus out of the Netherlands as the holiday season kicked in. It seemed obvious at that time to travel through Europe in December, even brave the bits which would freeze my toes off, for the summers were set aside for that long mandatory trip home. The notion was that the city didn’t have much different to offer during the holidays than the rest of the year anyway. This time, however, will be different as I may just about resist that urge and stay put through the next two weeks.

It did raise a few eyebrows at first when “So, what’s your plan for Christmas?” was met with awkward light-drizzle-on-the-windowpane-silence shrug. Apparently, the conditioning to have plans and commitments through the holidays is shared by many. To be honest, I didn’t know how to put it without sounding miserable either, because I’m told it does sound so and I know not why.

But I take it as a mild luxury to be somewhat free of commitments, work or personal, for these few days and to be able to relish the quiet, calm and warm indoors. And as the year, and in this case also the 2010s draw to a close, I think it’s not a terribly shabby setting to reflect on the past that was and vaguely foresee the immediate future that would be.

Small projects

All those small projects that had been pushed from last winter to the past summer and have finally piled up into this winter, maybe their time has come, or at least some of them. The tiny house improvements, the squeaky bike that would soon be nuisance in the frost, the stacks of books shelved after the first chapter or so, that course I stopped halfway, all of that will not happen this time either, but I’ll certainly sluggishly revive and check some of those boxes out.

It’s also an opportunity to prepare for the busy year that is certain to come, maybe to make a start on that paper I’ve been promising my supervisors and collaborators for months, or to get some concerted music practice that I feel I desperately need, or to generally ponder and get organized up there.

Staying put

And as it turns out, there are others in my circle who too are seemingly equally sad and are staying put through Christmas (I must confess one of them is an ill-tempered cat). Thus Eindhoven wouldn’t exactly be the silent, bleak and lonely post-apocalyptic world out of a Cormac McCarthy book.

All of this is still speculative, there is still two weeks to see this through (It certainly helps to be off Instagram). But as we enter the most wonderful time of the year, I have the feeling that the wonderful bit about this is the time itself.

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