It’s only the middle of January but my Christmas holiday already feels like a distant memory. Of course, as I’m approaching the end of my first half century, it’s just possible that my memory isn’t what it was. But I think there is something else going on.

As we move through our daily lives it almost always feels like nothing is ever finished. Work ticks on, relationships ebb and flow, activities wax and wane, but despite the amount of change we actually experience life retains a sense of continuity that makes everything flow into everything else.

Holidays are not like that. They are, for want of a better word, chunked. They have a discrete beginning and a definite end: 2 points that you can highlight on the calendar and say “This is when I went to …”, or even “This is when we stayed at home” The effect seems to work just as well for staycations that involve little more than retiling the bathroom or counting the numbers of birds that pass through the garden.

I suppose that’s why they are such a source of inspiration for stories. Every good story needs a beginning, middle and end, and that’s precisely what holidays offer. Many of my best reminiscences come from holidays. Of course what usually happens is a 3-minute happy recount of the event followed by a thirty minute argument over when the holiday took place.

They also offer an excellent opportunity for a reset. In reality, if you want to change your life then there is no better time than now, and usually nothing stopping you but yourself. But holidays give us the time to think and plan, and the psychological strength to return to our real lives and do things differently – at least for a while. Most of us fail to stick with the big changes we planned, but many of the small changes we make can remain with us without us even noticing.

Another major benefit of holidays that many people site is that they offer an excellent opportunity to rest and recuperate. Apparently a fortnight in the sun or spending Christmas with the family is supposed to be an excellent way of recharging depleted batteries. Unfortunately this never happens for me. Whether or not I enjoy them, After a holiday I almost always return to life needing just a bit more sleep and a few more cups of coffee than average while I recover.

I’m willing to accept that I may be alone in this, but maybe it is fairly common, and it’s just that after spending all that money no one wants to admit that holidays leave them knackered. I still recall my experiences during University fresher week. I was told by everyone how much I would enjoy it and felt like a total freak when I found the whole thing absolutely awful. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered most of my erstwhile mentors who’d expounded the joys of fresher week had actually hated it just as much as I had and just assumed they were freaks as well.

My experience with holidays over the years has been mixed. I have never actually hated any of them, but I will admit to being well ready to return to daily life by the end of a few. However this leads me to my final thought on the topic. Irrespective of whether it will be good or bad, sat here at my desk in the middle of an ice-cold January, I’m already looking forward to the next one. What’s more, I suspect that whether they are left or right, liberal or conservative, or indeed whatever spectrum they are on, almost everyone else in my town, country, and continent are feeling the same. So here’s to our next holiday. May it be a good one!

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