By Ada Li
Oh winter break, how we love you so. An entire month without papers to write, due dates, getting out of bed early, and staying awake during class–just sweet, pure freedom.
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No more eating mediocre dining hall food or stressing about what to cook next. Being on break means going home, and that means delicious, home cooked meals that don’t come oven or stovetop-ready. Let’s not forget about the endless supply of snacks that you didn’t have to pay for either. It’s like we die and go to heaven every time we step through the threshold of our own residence.
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After relishing in all the glorious luxuries of your own home, you may find yourself feeling like a complete stranger after months of not being home for more than a week. Even the short fall break did not prepare you for this. You may find some slight adjustments made to your room such as a different wall color or new furniture. If you’re really unlucky, you find out that your room is now your parents’ new office space or personal gym. Without your own room, you end up crashing with your sibling. Not only did your room change, but you also begin to notice the little changes around the house. The house that you could once navigate through while wearing a blindfold turns into a maze, rerouted with new pathways and rearranged furniture.
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We all know that the first week you’re back home isn’t even for relaxing. Instead, it’s filled with season’s greetings and holiday headaches. From buying those last minute presents to helping your parents out with holiday preparations, you don’t expect much free time until the madness ends. Let’s not forget trying to squeeze in time to catch up with your friends before they’re also tied down, spending time with their own family.
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There are many things to love and loathe about family dinners. Being able to catch up with your cousins and bringing up embarrassing family stories are always fun things to do while gathering with your loved ones for the holidays. Then there are the questions your aunts and uncles always ask you without fail. You know, the questions about your current relationship status, how school is going, your plans for the future, etc. You try your best to get out of answering these questions, but no amount of hiding and directing the questions to someone else can help you avoid such a fate.
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Once the craziness of the holidays is over, you finally get to truly relax. Your break schedule consists of staying awake all night, either binge watching TV shows or doing absolutely nothing on the Internet, going to sleep at 4 a.m., and waking up past 1 p.m. to eat. Sleep, eat, watch TV, consider taking a shower, repeat—that’s just how winter break life is.
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At some point, your break schedule will start to tick your parents off. Slowly, you realize that your freedom at college is gone and you must abide by their rules again. They start off by talking about your sleeping habits and insisting that you should sleep at night and wake up earlier in the morning. Then, they progressively get into questions about your college life, your major, your plans for the future, and other important responsibilities that only adults worry about. Sigh. Of course you pretend that you care about what they have to say, but on the inside, you’re secretly dying and would rather be anywhere but in their presence.
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That’s only the beginning of the demise of our much-needed winter “vacation”. They start pestering you about the little things you do at home, with comments like “Your face is always glued to the [insert computer, phone, or TV] screen”, or “you eat so much, you need to start pitching in around here”, blah blah blah. You bet your parents will comment on your laziness and insist that you should leave the house more often. Then when you finally leave the house to hang out with your friends, they will complain that you’re never home to spend time with them. There is just no pleasing these forever unsatisfied beings. Slowly but surely, your own patience will start to deteriorate, making you want to scream at them for driving you crazy when break is for relaxing and mentally preparing for the next semester.
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You start to wonder why you ever looked forward to coming home for break in the first place. You wish winter break will hurry up and end so you can get back to watching television and contemplating a shower without anyone breathing down your neck. However, once you’re back in school, you just can’t help but count down the days until spring break. Everything that happened to you during winter break is forgotten, including your nagging parents that you somehow miss all of a sudden. We constantly hope that the next break will be different, but do parents ever really change?
Absolutely not. So much for wishful thinking.