Embracing Dead Week

New Year Sunrise

A couple of years ago, in an essay for The Atlantic, writer Helena Fitzgerald named this week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, “Dead Week” and proclaimed it as the best of the year.1

At first I was a little hesitant to accept that any period should be considered “dead” time.

I get her point. It seems as if the whole world goes has gone into stasis this week. The media reinforces that whole “dead” idea by dropping into reruns. Or year-end retrospectives, which is pretty much the same thing. Or putting in third string personalities to keep the host chair occupied.


However now, like Austin Kleon, I think I’m ready to fully embrace the concept.

What I’m doing with Dead Week is not giving up, but letting go of the year.

Dead Week for me this year is one of pausing (even though, uh, I’m still writing this newsletter, I guess), looking back, and relaxing.

His plans for the week are to look back through the notebooks he’s written this year, take baths, eat junk food, and watch rubbish. Certainly all worthy pursuits, I guess.

I don’t do a lot of note taking, unless you could this blog, but looking back through my photos certainly covers a lot of the same ground. And I’ll pass on the rest of his activities.

But this week, which for an educator is usually the back half of winter break, has always been for me an opportunity to clean up, clear out, work on personal projects, and plan for at least the next few months. That, in a nutshell, is what I’m doing during this “dead” time.

Although I still believe January 1 is a lousy choice to celebrate our annual symbolic restart, there is still something peaceful about this brief few days of relatively low expectations.

So, welcome to Dead Week.

I’m not prepared to say this is the best time of the year. But it’s nice to have a lull after the ever-expanding, increasingly-hectic run-up to Christmas. And before the world fully comes back to all-too-real life.

The photo, from eleven years ago, shows sunrise over the Potomac River on January 1. Tis’ the season for repeats, and I’ve used that one many times in the past.

1. Unfortunately the original article is now locked behind the magazine’s paywall. But the part they allow us normals to read will give you the author’s basic concept.

1 Comments Embracing Dead Week

  1. Karen Richardson

    In my VSTE days, this was the one week when I would officially close the (virtual) office and reconnect with my personal priorities. Despite being semi-retired, this year is not that much different. I closed out the semester, finished up the handmade cards and gifts and can now, as you say, focus on personal projects while giving myself permission to just chill out, as the young people say. Happy new year!


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