Looking outside, the weather seems to mimic my current outlook on life: dark, stormy, and full of gray patches. Luckily, ’tis the season of Christmas lights (or Hanukkah or Kwanza lights, if you would rather) and as we enter December, I feel more illuminated with each glowing yard ornament I see. After all, when else could you have an illuminated, life-sized Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, Rudolph, angels, shepherds, snowflakes, candy canes, and reindeer in your yard at once and get away with it? Like Clark W. Griswold (if you have not seen Christmas Vacation, go watch it now!), I say the bigger, the brighter, the more over the top, the better! And, in a part of the world where the sun seemingly hibernates in winter, I like being reminded outside light can exist.
Speaking of Clark W. Griswold, “Where’s the Tylenol?” seems to be my mantra lately. For PMCB firsties, December brings mixed feelings. First comes relief, since our term ends relatively early in the month. Second comes regret, that we did not get enough done in our rotation lab (and mazal tov to those of you who feel you did accomplish your goals). Third comes dread – in a month this process starts all over again with new classes, a new lab (for most of us), and a new schedule to adapt to. But then there is Christmas, and presents, and bowl games, and all that amazing food, and all that great time we get to spend with long neglected family and friends to enjoy before the hell resumes….. Mixed feelings. Many headaches
The Holiday season is a time for celebration and renewal. Like Charlie Brown reminds us, this time of year is when we celebrate what is important to us, reflect on what the last year brought, and look forward hopefully to the new year.
Grad students, more than most, need this sense of renewal, this sense of looking forward. It is easy to get bogged down by classes and exams, by lab experiments that don’t work, by feelings of inadequacy, stupidity, or general incompetence, that we forget our successes. We look at our metaphorical Christmas tree and see it for what it lacks, or worse, think we killed it. But we are human, we make mistakes. Some of us never get that one transformation to work, others bet on the wrong Oregon team in the Civil War and end up having to pay in beer. The point is, do not look at the tree for what it lacks, but rather what you can make of it. Take courage, wrap your memories of the last three months up in all the tinsel and lights you can, and know that the very fact we are about to have made it through the first term is reason to celebrate and look ahead hopefully, and courageously, to the next year. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Science!