Countdown to Winter Break: 9 Fun Holiday Activities


Jack Tsukada, Contributor

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Winter break is a time when you can finally take a breath.  Or at least that’s how it seems. In truth, winter break is a time when many people’s schedules become filled to the brim with mediocre get-togethers, sing-alongs, and all the matter of endless procrastination.  Winter break is a valuable time, but to gain the maximum amount of utility from this vacation, you must plan strategically, allocating enough time for fun activities, while allowing for recuperation and preparation for the dreadful weeks following the break.  By recommending different activities, I aim to find that balance between having fun and getting enough rest during the break.

1. Visit a College

Winter break is a time when you want to get away from school, right?  Wrong. When else would you have time to visit a college? Winter Break is one of the only times of the year when you can plan to visit colleges outside of the Philadelphia area, and deciding what colleges you plan to apply to is crucial for finding satisfaction in the application process.  Plus, colleges can prove to offer promising excursion opportunities. For example, Bryn Mawr College is notable for containing a great deal of Neo-Gothic architecture on its campus, and Haverford College has many trails to walk on.

2. Visit a New Part of Philadelphia

Keeping with the previous entry, this is just a reminder that the Philadelphia metropolitan area is larger than you can perceive, and it is always worth it to venture out into unknown areas.  For example, the Germantown-Mount Airy area is unique in that it embodies a suburban, rustic atmosphere, but is, in fact, a part of the city of Philadelphia. The Wissahickon Trail is a great place to hike, and the adjacent upscale Chestnut Hill area provides something akin to the mainline north of Havertown.  Another area of interest is the northeast area of Bustleton, which is home to a moderate Russian community. It may be commonplace to find street signs around Philadelphia in Chinese characters, or even Arabic, but finding a sign in Cyrillic would be quite an unusual sight. There are many more areas of Philadelphia which contain interesting and enthralling experiences, and these have are only a few of them.

3. Hold a Writing Workshop

This may sound like one of those suggestions that nobody would actually ever carry out, but a self-directed writing workshop does allow for some special insights.  Gather a few friends, and propose a prompt to write about. This prompt should be open-ended because one of the goals of the workshop is to discover more about people you already know through how they interpret something malleable.  After each person finishes writing their pieces, you may reconvene and present your them, after which constructive criticism can be enthusiastically dealt out. While leading an activity structured almost like a humanities class may seem too arbitrary to do with your friends, doing so can tell you a lot about how people think in different conformist, and often creative ways.

4. Go Sledding

This may be somewhat of a cliche by this point in your life, but sledding does allow for some traditionally exhilarating moments, that is if there is ample snow.  This entry may seem contrived, but it is important to appreciate the classical winter break activities, alongside more unconventional ones.

5. Rearrange Your Room

Your room is a place you live in; it is maybe the one place over which you have full authority – that is if you have your own room.  Many people, including myself, have kept their room in the same, workable, layout for the past several years. While you may have retained this layout for so long because it is the best one you can think of, it is always exciting to shuffle things on occasion, and the coming new year is certainly an appropriate occasion on which to do so.  Winter break is one of the only times when you have a large period of potentially free time, so you should utilize this time for satisfying long-term home projects.

6. Attempt a Long Bike Ride

This entry again assumes something of the reader, namely that he or she has the ability to ride a bike.  I had previously assumed that just about everybody could use a bicycle until my extremely talented friend revealed that he had never learned.  Anyway, biking is a healthy activity to partake in, and the extended time which winter break allows for creates the possibility of long bike rides, which can take up an entire day.  One destination to consider is the route to the popular area of Manayunk, which seems quite far, but is in fact very doable and a good option for beginners. The journey winds through the old and elegant neighborhoods of northern Lower Merion Township and ends with a converted pedestrian bridge which offers picturesque views of the Schuylkill.  Biking is an activity, which many people have the ability to do, but rarely use that ability, especially because of time constraints.

7. Read a Book

This may seem to be another suggestion, which few will follow, mostly because those who enjoy reading extracurricular books most likely already do, and those who do not likely never will.  However, there are books on almost every subject matter imaginable, so it will not be difficult finding something of your interest. Books are useful because they can provide you with an activity for very necessary leisure time while also being useful for academic or school assignments, something which television does to a lesser degree.  It may seem silly to mention an activity which everybody is already aware of, but if boredom is ever a problem for you, you can alleviate it by going to a library.

8. Visit a Historical Site

With many students taking AP U.S. History, it seems appropriate to mention this activity because some may not realize that history pertaining to that course can be found all across Haverford Township.  The Federal School, Lawrence Cabin, and Nitre Hall are all sites which Haverford students have visited before, but assuming young kids likely wouldn’t have enough knowledge to truly appreciate their histories, they may be worth second visits.  The township holds these locations with high enough regard to make them mandatory field trips, so you may want to see what all the fuss is about. Other locations that are not part of past school field trips include the residence of Joshua Humphreys, the first naval construction contractor in U.S. history, and the Haverford Quaker Meeting House, which was constructed in 1688.  History surrounds us, even if the United States seems like a place without many historical monuments when compared to Europe or Asia.

9. Make a Plan for the New Year

Planning is an activity which is critical to success.  Especially in high school, the proper allocation of time and energy for doing various tasks is the only way to succeed.  As a result of the new pressures high school brings, many have turned to making academic plans for themselves which extend beyond just the next foreseeable week.  It is certainly a cliche to plan or make resolutions for the new year during winter break, but it is one of the only times when you are provided with the visionary perspective of viewing school work externally and not being in the middle of it.  Planning out the new year during winter break allows you to research and select extracurricular activities for the new year while setting yourself up for maximum efficiency and minimum anxiety. However, planning can lead to setting over-ambitious and unattainable goals for yourself, so you must take your true ability into consideration.  Are you actually willing to work until 2:00 AM making twelve shoebox dioramas? Be realistic.

This is a list of suggestions for winter break activities.  I hope that you can use some of these ideas, but winter break is often jam-packed for people.  Regardless of what you do, it is important to actually take a break. School is demanding, and avoiding leisure time can contribute to decreased proficiency and increased fatigue.  There are only nine days left!

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