The procrastinators guide to the holidays

Hello my fellow law students. I hope that your semester is proving fruitfuBuilding a snow fortl and that you’re making good progress in your modules. If not, do not fret, you still have plenty of time to get caught up. Here in Alberta (Canada) the holidays are in full swing causing endless disruptions to my study regime. Although Christmas isn’t actually until the 25th its celebration starts in late November and is probably the most disruptive of all holidays to one`s study.

It’s not a coincidence that all school semesters end by early December, only restarting in January. While not being the most festive person when compared with other members of my family, I will admit that I have lost a substantial amount of time to this infectious holiday.  Thus, I started to write this blog as a cautionary tale to help others avoid the pitfalls in which I fell victim to this Christmas, yet upon further contemplation I have decided to the contrary: that Christmas is a meritorious holiday worthy of observance.

Although heavily commercialised, there remains something serene and powerful to this holiday. The message of peace and love –always relevant- seems to take root more in the Christmas season. Everywhere people are more prone to acts of kindness, from shovelling snow off their neighbours walkway, giving gifts to local charities, baking or delivering food for local shelters, or paying for the coffee of the next person in line at Tim Hortons, these small acts, when added together, make the season unique. Christmas seems to make a town a community. My favourite Christmas story is that of the Christmas Truce of 1914, where soldiers on both sides stopped fighting and met in no-man’s land to sing carols and play soccer together. Even in the hell that was trench warfare, the magic of the season brought people together.  Christmas is therefore more than mere gift-giving and I think we have ample justification to defend celebrating this season as it was meant to be celebrated; through reckless procrastination. Of course it’s axiomatic that this means shutting out all thoughts of coursework and deadlines. So join me as I guide you through the festivities and outline the world of opportunities available this season to help prevent you from studying.

Decorations

The options here are endless and if you plan it right, you can easily go a week or two without even considering your studies. First you have your home’s exterior. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or a one bedroom flat, you can decorate it all the same. There are many different schools on how to do this so get creative. You can put up a single strand of lights with a Grinch cutout stealing them off the roof or you create an elaborate pattern of colour-coded flashing lights; personally I’m a fan of the quantity approach and have my condo patio lit up to the point that I blind passing motorists and confuse local aircraft. What’s important is that you have fun and spend time doing it. Turning to the interior now, remember to deck those halls (with what is entirely up to you). My wife has adopted a fake garland and poinsettia approach this year. This has proved incredibly festive as the garland has blocked the PS4, the TV and the cable box, so I have to get up to change the channel manually each time. Furthermore, being particularly clumsy I inevitably end up knocking down some piece of decoration daily which then needs to be righted. Lastly, it is important to set up some sort of Christmas tree, as it is a manifestation of the season par excellence. Doesn’t matter if it’s pine or spruce, real or fake, or if it’s technically considered a potted plant, the important thing is that you have something large and green placed in a highly trafficked area. Again decorate to taste with whatever you like and have on hand. Making the most of this option, I bought a tree far too small for our stand and is currently leaning so badly that it is relying on a kitchen chair for its structural integrity – thus providing me with a festive task to do in the morning ensuring that I am not tempted to study.

Food

If you enjoy cooking or baking, get to it. There is always someone you can pawn your holiday creations onto – giving cookies out randomly is an time-honourePlaying Ice Hockeyd Christmas tradition and you shouldn’t be stigmatised for throwing excess cookies at whoever passes by your doorway (skill is entirely irrelevant). Alternatively, if you don’t enjoy baking you can always take up the mantel of eating other peoples’ Christmas concoctions. If indulged in properly, you should easily be able to maintain a solid food comma until the New Year. However, if you are having problems finding food, just walk around the neighbourhood aimlessly – you will doubtlessly run into someone as listed above. This is not for the faint of stomach, however, and it is important to remember that you’re not engaging in a food critique, merely enjoying spending time helping others spend time (festively). Although if you decide to go one step further and bake cookies for your dog, make sure that these cookies are separated and clearly labelled as tuna cookies leave a horrible lingering taste in one’s mouth.

Winter Activities

Currently the festive mood here is somewhat dampened by the lack of snow thanks to a persistent Chinook (A Chinook is a natural phenomena resulting from the proximity of the Rocky Mountains that brings strong winds and warmer weather).  It can cause the temperature to swing from -30 c to 15 c overnight). Yet I have hope that we will have snow soon, giving me access to a wide range of holiday time-wasting activities. It may seem weird for those of you who reside in warmer locales that here in Alberta we are wishing for colder weather, but then you probably haven’t felt the sublime joy of pelting your loved ones with a snowball or the exhilaration that comes from attempting to steer around the trees as you toboggan down the biggest hill for miles. These are timeless festive time-wasters and have utility even beyond the Holidays. If you have enough snow you can waste solid days making elaborate snow forts and quinzhees (couple years ago I made a quinzhee that could sleep eight, two floors, and had Christmas lights throughout). Other notable options include making snowman, skiing, snowshoeing, and the unprovoked licking of any frozen metal surface that suits your fancy (ah, good times). Any of these activities are sure to prove an adequate festive waste of your time. If you live in a climate that doesn’t have snow, cheer up! At least you don’t have to scrape ice off your car in the morning or risk frostbite getting the mail.  Perhaps you can make mud forts and mudmen – the important thing is to improvise.

*Between the time i wrote this blog and the time it took to publish we have received three feet of snow.  Had my baby girl play in the snow for the first time*

Local Events

The evening can be easily wasted through community events. Going to listen to the carollers is always good fun, especially as there is always that one person who despite all his zeal cannot sing in tune (which would be me).  There is usually a Santa Clause parade in a local town or an amateur rendition of the Christmas Carol which can be used to kill excess time. Walking or driving around town admiring the various light displays is my wife’s favourite activity. A local Christmas Eve service is always a good choice as the combination of animals, children and candles is a recipe for disaster (the Christmas service in the movie Simon Birch comes to mind). Winter sports are also a good option, whether you spend the day at the local rink or at home watching the game over a cold beer.

It shouldn’t be too hard to spend your time festively.  Even wrapping Christmas gifts can eat up some time, provided that you remember wrapping is an art form, it’s not about objective beauty or speed, but rather is a way of expressing your individuality; any gift to my younger brother will always necessitate a layering effect of duct tape, bailing twine, boxes, and shrink wrap.  A close friend on the other hand works exclusively with newspaper. Another valid strategy is to focus on watching classic Christmas movies such as: The Grinch who stole Christmas, Rudolph, Christmas Vacation, The Lord of the Rings, and Diehard. A last time-wasting suggestion would be to volunteer in your local community. Not only does this help justify your procrastination, but it spreads the holiday cheer – wasting time and spreading love is what this season is about!  While I have given you many options here, the important thing is that you have fun with friends and family.  If you do not celebrate Christmas but another form of holiday, that’s okay, with a little improvisation and ingenuity I’m certain my guide will have you merrily wasting your time in no time. For those of you scrooges who opt not to participate in the festivities, all the power to you – but really what’s one month of diligent study going to do for your studies that can’t be accomplished by destroying gingerbread houses? So don ye thee ugly sweaters, break open thee rum and eggnog, kick back by the fireplace (or that channel with the burning logs) and join me as we enjoy Christmas properly – by putting off studying entirely.

“God blesses everyone”

-Timmy in A Christmas Carol

(Scholars and Theologians have universally agreed that in the proper translation of this phrase ‘everyone’ was used restrictively to refer exclusively to those who celebrate Christmas properly by putting off other obligations.  ‘God Blesses’ was used metaphorically to refer to receiving a benefit that one does not deserve.  Thus should be properly construed as ‘those who procrastinate at Christmas will be rewarded in their law programs”)

William is studying the LLB by distance learning in Canada.

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