By Thomas Maranian
Variety Editor

School is out for a month. So what can you do? Before all else, be thankful that you have a month off. Christmas is less than two weeks away, so if you have not done your shopping, now is the time! Many stores will offer deals on demanding gifts for family and friends, you just have to find the right ones. Get creative this year. But at the end of the day, always remember it is the thought that counts. The true meaning of Christmas is so much more than gift giving. It’s a time of thanksgiving, family, and celebration.

If you have any family traditions for the holiday, keep them alive. Watch a movie together, sit by the fire, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, or do whatever else it is that brings you happiness. Now is the time to forget all the stress finals may have brought to you, and focus on enjoying the next month at home. Be happy, be excited, and get festive.

Perhaps you have wanted to catch up on some reading. There has never been a better time than winter break for that. Set a schedule for yourself to get through as many books as you can. Knowledge is power. Find your favorite place to read and indulge yourself in a whole new world of fantasy, fiction, or history. Better yet, grab that cup of hot chocolate along with it.

Maybe now is the time to catch up on your favorite show on Netflix. The shows that started up in the fall are now about eight or ten episodes in. Get comfortable and enjoy every minute of them. Also many new movies are playing in theaters like Star Wars, Justice League, Thor, and Murder on the Orient Express. Buy your tickets online and ahead of time to ensure you get a seat. Beware of spoilers!

The snow is out and the fun is here (if you like the cold). Meet up with a bunch of friends and enjoy the weather. Have a snow ball fight, go skiing, go hiking, or just go for a walk to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is truly beautiful around the holidays, especially since towns and cities typically have decoration up on every block. Now that you are ready to return home, go explore

to find out what’s been going on all the time you have been away. Perhaps a new restaurant opened up. You will only find new things if you seek them out.

With the holiday season comes New Year’s resolutions. One of the major ones tends to be a healthy lifestyle. With all the time off, now is the best time to refocus yourself and start a new workout routine. Of course, there will be an indulgence of food on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Therefore, this is the best time to test yourself and implement a new diet into your lifestyle. Staying fit is highly correlated with willpower. Get into a routine of going to the gym every day, or you could always workout at home. Take a trip to the supermarket and make a few changes to your kitchen cabinets. Start eating healthier to promote a start to your resolution. It’s all a science. There is no magic to it. Take in less calories than you burn, and you will lose weight. Take in more calories than you burn, and you will gain weight. Simple, easy, 1, 2, 3.

Some may not have seen their families for a few weeks, others a few months. Now is the best time to really spend time with them. Hang out with your brothers and sisters, go shopping with your mom, and do some yardwork with your dad. They have missed you, and it is likely you have missed them. Express your love for them however you can!

Complimentary to that, you probably have missed your friends back home, too. There are so many options for all of you. Go to a fancy restaurant one night and catch up on everything, pull an “all-nighter” together at someone’s house, or have a secret Santa swap for Christmas. Spend as much time as you can together and enjoy it. It’s been almost four months after all.

Winter break is a month long, but it can go by really fast. The best strategy to making it count is to have no regrets. Do not do anything that you will regret doing. Instead, enjoy every second of it, pick up a new hobby, and get a head start on a new resolution you have for yourself.

Merry Christmas to all and happy New Years!