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  • Writer's pictureBrenna McCormick

The Gift of Curiosity in the Time Between Years

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

It is Christmas afternoon, and laying around the living room in the aftermath of a blizzard of wadded-up wrapping paper, flotsam and jetsam of gift tags and ribbon bits, are several of my favorite things: the gifts that I have received, a wonderful sense of time-spaciousness, and (shhh…don’t tell) other people’s gifts—books, toys, mementos—which are not meant for me necessarily, but, oh, maybe I’ll get harmlessly lost in one anyway.

That is how this past Christmas Day, I came to read (through tear-glossed eyes) Charles Mackesy’s beautiful illustrated book of wisdom, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Which was a gift from Momo to my Little Dude. Then, during my Little Dude’s afternoon nap, I treated my-overly-productive-self to the greatest of joys: watching a movie in the afternoon. Long overdue, I finally watched Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, and re-inspired by Jo, I put a fresh cartridge in my favorite fountain pen (and happily scratched away at my Morning Pages later that evening.)

All of this is what makes the Time Between Years one of my favorite times of the year.

I was first introduced to this phrase, the Time Between Years, by my German colleagues (now lovely friends) when I worked at an international digital agency, and we “unplugged” for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, just like many of our clients.

There is so much truth in this simple phrase, which captures this week-out-of-time.

Regardless of the job I’ve held, the naming of this week holds true. Even when I think back to the beginning of my career—in retail—it was a week of downshifting from Christmas to Sale to Inventory. There are vestigial flickers of retail habits still deeply instilled in me (confession: I start January with my own version of inventory). However, that was a time of busy, long-houred business organization when “discovery” meant digging into dusty backroom corners. In my current life in academia, this is a week I give myself permission to set aside all the things I feel I need to do. I allow myself to discover and explore unexpected things that then become thought-provoking fuel for my own creativity and, which sometimes, unexpectedly, become perfect content for my classes.

What I have realized is that in this Time Between Years, is that I give myself permission to let time flow, and to not censor my curiosity. I discover new things. I set aside my mental “syllabus” and task list of should-reads, should-dos, should-work-ons. I let go of the news. I consume less social media content. I let myself wander into activities, get lost in stories, create and be curious.

Even better, I love the serendipity of what feels like escaping the algorithms that increasingly recommend our next book, TV show, movie, or even online purchase. The discovery of something (such as a book gifted to someone else in your family) invites newness into the narrow path that we so often wander along when looking for the next thing to entice us.

So, this week, I invite you to let yourself wander. To fall into something that calls to you. To pick up a book, a puzzle, a past hobby set aside. And, to hold more loosely the neatly wound thread on the spindle of time that we hold so tightly the rest of the year.

In this Time Between Years, I wish you some delightful exploring and discovery that inspires your thinking and touches your creative spirit.

I wish you a wonderful, creative (and no-longer-2020) New Year.


Reflecting & Connecting

What are your delights or traditions in the Time Between Years?

What has your curiosity led you to explore this week?

What has it felt like to let go of time a little bit (or maybe a lot this crazy year)?

I'd love to hear from you.



Here is my Little Dude with one of the other not-for-me gifts that I may be eyeing ;-)

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