The holiday season has arrived – and not a day too soon. It is has been quite a Fall, and the arrival of the holidays signal that the semester has drawn to a close and there will be time, brief as it is, to rest, relax and regroup.
I am looking forward to days devoted to family, friends, food and festivities – and to a needed respite from the relentless grind of the fall semester – a semester like none other. And I am confident that my Mason faculty and staff colleagues feel the same. We all need a break.
The holidays also are a time when we traditionally exchange gifts. Gifts are a way to share, an opportunity to thank and chance to honor those we love, those we admire and those who have touched us in important ways.
I send my thanks to my colleagues for all that you have done to inspire our students and be sure that their experiences at Mason, despite the adaptations required by the COVID crisis, have been inspiring and enriching. You are among the heros of the pandemic and I am grateful for your contributions to the Mason community.
As I thank you, I also want to give you gift – in this case, a suggestion and an encouragement. Gifts that make a difference and have a positive impact for others are gratifying and valued. I hope that my gift to you fits this profile.
This holiday season my gift to you, ironically, is to encourage you to give yourself a gift. This is not meant to be selfish – we all deserve a gift – and this year more than ever before we all need a gift that will make a difference for us.
My suggestion during this era of COVID when everything is so different, I encourage you, as your gift to yourself, to try and do something new. It has been said that “a mind that has been stretched can never return to its old dimension” while it also has been said that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Trying something new and tackling the unfamiliar can be daunting, yet it also can be inspiring. This holiday season, intentionally experiencing something different, something new that we ourselves choose, may be just what you need.
As you prepare for 2021, a year that we hope will bring “light at the end the tunnel” with a COVID vaccine approved, make it a time for re-invigoration. It will be a gift that is valued and a gift that will “keep on giving.”
I encourage you to be bold. Embed something new into your life. Challenge yourself physically, intellectually or emotionally. Stretch yourself – and encourage others to so as well.
These days have challenged us all – make them days that you also challenge yourself. As you do, I am confident that you will return to the university in January ready, renewed and refreshed.
And, thanks again to each of you.
I hope that you, your families, friends and significant others have a joyous holiday season and a healthy 2021. I look forward to a an awesome spring semester together.
All the best.