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The case for holidays

  • 31 January 2023
Welcome to 'Stray Thoughts', where the Eureka Street editorial team muses on ethical and social challenges we've noted throughout the week.  We send you this message from Eureka Street from a strait between holidays. We have just sailed away from the mainland of the Christmas, New Year and annual holidays; immediately in front of us lies the Australia Day holiday. 

People make many arguments in favour of holidays. Most are special pleading. They tell us that holidays freshen us up, and yet here I find myself asleep at the computer by early afternoon. They tell us that holidays flood our minds with challenging and interesting topics for our conversation and writing, yet now I have landed desperately on holidays as the subject of this first column. They say that holidays foster elegance and fluidity of style, yet my early days back at work have dumped me into a wen of wall-to-wall typos, a slough of abstractions, and a Sargasso Sea of passive voice. They also praise holidays for helping us to notice and to value such important markers of our culture and identity as Australia Day and the Queen’s Birthday. Yet, when lighting the barbie or sinking a tinny or two, who gives a thought to Governor Phillip or the new King? 

You could make the case that holidays are damaging to the economy, to skills, to endurance and to a sense of responsibility. Perhaps that is their point. Holidays detach our minds and hearts from their programmed course and leave them free to drift into inlets and unexplored bays unfettered by naval discipline or maps. They take us to unexpected places, to wonder at the beauty of places we have passed by and, dangerously, to ask ourselves where we want most deeply to sail. Holidays can be the call of the Sirens who schemed to lure Odysseus on to the rocks. But they can also be the request that drew Peter to take Jesus into his boat.

What has been your experience of holidays?




  Andrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street, and writer at Jesuit Social Services. Main image: Caleb George (Unsplash)