While my family hung garland and interwove lights on the main banister last year, I sat in our study, alone, playing video games. Although I wanted to go help out, the “one more minute” of gaming elongated into hours, as final minutes tend to do. As the clock sped forward and senior year started, I knew it was my last chance to celebrate these events with my family, and I thought I would be able to spend as much time as I wanted to with them this year.
However, I didn’t realize how little free time I would actually have. The combination of a busy school schedule, college applications and academic competitions leaves me with little to no free time. I now realize how much of a mistake it was, but I am powerless to fix it. In the past, I postponed family events to play video games or watch a movie with my friends. Before I’d laugh at the concept of having family time or taking time to partake in family traditions. Now the joke’s on me.
Our family has a tradition of going outside in mid-October to put out Halloween decorations. My dad, sister and I head to the basement and dig up a plastic pumpkin with a light inside, a foam haunted house to hang up on a tree and a couple of scarecrows, including a small one missing its head. This year, while my dad and sister found these and decorated the outside of our house, I sat inside, working on calculus homework due the next day. I wouldn’t have cared at all in the past. There was always next year.
Family traditions and just hanging out with my family in general always took second priority to me. I thought there would always be an option to spend time with them, so I never cherished the time as much. Who thought I’d care much for the family traditions I now lose out on?
Next year, I don’t intend to attend the University of Missouri–Columbia, although it is a possibility. More than likely, I will go to another school a couple states away from my family, and I will miss our traditions. Of course, I’ll come home for the holidays next year, but by the time I’m home, the lights will be up, the tree will be decorated, and the garlands will be hung. Not to mention, Halloween isn’t exactly a holiday colleges give you time off for, and I have yet to make our house genuinely frightening instead of kiddy-frightening.
As my sister and I grew older, she became more involved with decorations, reminding everyone to start working. She’s 12 now, and because I’m crossing the state line next year, I want to be as involved as possible with her life before I can only Skype her.
Because of my pile of work, I’ve missed out on random chances to take her out to coffee, as older brothers simply must do for their younger sisters. I don’t hear about as much middle school drama as I’d like – which I never thought I’d be complaining about. Most of all, I don’t help her with homework, which I had been especially looking forward to. The other night, while I struggled with my biology textbook, she was struggling with learning the concept of inertia for her own science homework.
For the majority of my high school career, I ignored all these precious interactions and traditions, relaxing and hanging out with my friends instead, and now, when I’m swamped with work, I’m paying the price. Sure, I’ll have time second semester to be with my family after all these college applications, but that’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the whole of autumn and some of winter gone.
When senior year hits, time simply dries up. Senior year heralds college applications by the boatload, and AP courses are no cakewalk either. Add a job, and you don’t need a tough schedule to see your free time disappear.
Set aside the time now, go see that movie another week instead and spend the precious time that is available now with family. The workload only increases up to and past senior year. Of all the resources on earth, time is the most precious, and the only one that cannot be replenished is, well, time.
By Atreyo Ghosh
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.