Washington Monument

A writer for The Atlantic has a name for this period between Christmas and New Year’s Day: Dead Week. She claims it’s the best week of the year.

Christmas is over and we have arrived at the most wonderful time of the year—nominally still the holidays, but also the opposite of a holiday, a blank space stretching between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when nothing makes sense and time loses its meaning. For many of us, this is the only time of year when it feels possible, and even encouraged, to do nothing. I look forward to it all year long.

To some degree, I think all of society feels a little aimless during these few days. We’re waiting for the new year, with all its resolutions and hopes for starting over, but we’re not quite done with the old one. In between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one is this weird little stretch of unmarked time.

For most people, this week isn’t even a week off from work, but at the same time it also isn’t a return to the normal rhythm of regular life. Nobody knows what to do with this leftover week, awkwardly stuck to the bottom of the year. I call it “Dead Week,” a time when nothing counts, and when nothing is quite real.

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.

But, for most us who work in the educational system, this period is the second half of winter break, and I think many of my colleagues consider it to be more of an opportunity than “dead”.

By this time in the school year, I had a good understanding of my students and the goals we had to achieve in the second semester. This break when everything slowed down provided time to work on personal projects and do other things like read books that had nothing to do with the job.

During various winter breaks I spent this “dead time” on coding projects and learning HTML. Around this time twenty years ago, I started playing with the idea of blogging and the technologies behind it.

Even now this so-called dead week still has that open feeling, as if it’s a good time to explore something outside the routine.

So, for all my colleagues who are enjoying this long break in the school year, I hope you are also using this time as an opportunity to grow, learn, and connect with interests that go beyond the day-to-day of teaching kids.

The photo shows the Washington Monument across the Tidal Basin in DC. While photography is a passion of mine, oddly enough I never seem to do much of it during this “dead week”. Maybe it’s what I need to take a break from during this time.