Do you get a Winter break?
A lot of us do. Schools are closed, which means teachers are off. Every place I’ve worked in my professional career has been closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Retail, restaurants, and hospitals never close, but for many of us, if we save a few vacation days, we can take off for a week or more.
What are you going to do on your Winter break?
Most of us have family obligations of one sort or another. Even if we don’t, or if they’re brief, there’s a tendency to spend our free time doing the same things we do on weekends or evenings or whenever it is we’re not working.
Adults in our society have very little truly free time. So when we find ourselves with a few days, let’s make the most of them.
These are six things I like to do on my Winter break.
1. Review the passing year
I started writing year-end reviews my first full year after college. I was used to getting grades on a regular basis that told me how I was doing. Without that feedback I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything, that I was drifting aimlessly.
My format hasn’t changed much over the years. I look back at my journal and my calendars and make a list of all the significant things that happened. Most months have two or three entries, but some have five or six and some have none.
I assess how I did in key areas. For me, those are physical health, mental health, professional, financial, social, and spiritual. I look back at the goals I set and see how well I accomplished them. I summarize major successes, major failures, and the year as a whole. And then I give the whole year a letter grade, A to F.
The year-end reviews help me recognize what I’ve done well, and they keep me from forgetting about the areas where I really want to do better.
2. Set goals for next year
Once you see how you did this year, it’s time to think about what you want to do next year.
One of the reasons abandoned New Year’s resolutions are a cliché is that so many people set goals based on what they think they’re supposed to want, rather than what they actually want. Or they set goals for things they want without considering that they don’t want to do what it takes to get them.
My best goals have been specific as to the desired outcome but flexible as to how they happen, and they’ve been something I really wanted.
Last year I wrote Target Selection: The Key To Effective Magic. The process we use to determine the most appropriate magical targets works just as well when trying to set mundane goals.
3. Go some place new
One of the biggest advantages of a few days off is the ability to do something you don’t ordinarily do. Getting out of a rut in one part of your life brings benefits to other parts as well, and there’s nothing as good for getting out of a rut than travel.
Let’s be honest – travel can be expensive. But you don’t have to fly to London or drive to the Florida Keys to get the benefits of going some place new. Spend a couple days in a state park. Rent an Air B&B in a town an hour away. If overnight travel isn’t possible, make a day trip to a city park, or visit a museum you haven’t seen yet.
My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t travel in my 20s and early 30s because I thought I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have the money for a big overseas trip, but I could have done some smaller trips. And while I can still go to the places I missed, I can’t get those years back. Go somewhere while you still can.
4. Organize your bookshelves
This is pretty high on my list for this year. The open bookshelf I created in 2013 (has it really been that long?!) is now packed. And it’s not in any sort of order. I know roughly where things are, but finding a book I haven’t touched in a year can take a bit. I need to move some books down to the secondary shelves and others onto my “ready reference” bookcase. But before I can do that I have to clear some space on it.
I’d like to get another bookcase, but I’m out of wall space in my office. Probably the best option is to get rid of some of the not-books that take up bookshelf space.
But I’m not getting rid of any books. Books are wealth.
5. Perform an overnight or multi-day ritual
Most Pagan groups move their high day rituals to the closest Saturday. If we didn’t, our attendance would be greatly diminished, because most people have to get up and go to work or school on weekday mornings.
Having a few days off makes performing a lengthy ritual far more manageable. You can be up all night with a fireside vigil, then get caught up on your sleep the next day. Or two or three – the older I get the longer it takes to recover from sleep loss. Perhaps there’s a ritual that doesn’t require your constant attention, but requires prayers and offerings at regular intervals. Do the ritual now – you don’t have to be at work tomorrow.
If you need me to tell you what might be in a multi-day ritual, you probably don’t need to perform one. They’re uncommon, and not just because they’re hard. But if you have a need, or if you’ve always felt like you should do an overnight vigil, now’s your chance.
6. Watch the movies you’ve been wanting to see
I often rant about people who spend all their limited free time in front of the TV. It can be a terrible time-waster. On the other hand, movies and TV shows are the epics of our time. And even if they’re not epics, good movies and TV shows can be inspiring.
What have you been wanting to see that you keep putting off?
Maybe a Star Wars marathon before (or after) you go see The Rise of Skywalker? Binge-watch The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? (season 3 starts January 24!). Maybe some movies to inspire your magic? You could do far worse than a Lord of the Rings marathon.
Whatever you’ve been wanting to watch, sit down and watch it while you’ve got some free time.
However long your Winter break, I hope it’s relaxing, recharging, and rewarding.
This post was inspired by Astrea’s Magic To Do On Vacation: Easy Witchcraft To Make The Most Of Your Time Off.