Winter Break Drags On

Winter break drags on.

There was a time that I relished winter break. Savored it. Especially as a college student. I remember luxurious weeks of sleeping in. Of video games. Not responsible for nothing. Nothing serious, anyway.

Such times are gone. Now I have two children that demand all sorts of attention. Not responsible for nothing anymore, responsible for everything.

“Hey Dad,” Samson has said 10,000,000 times this break.

Samson has become obsessed with football. So “hey Dad” is often followed by some comment about Justin Jefferson, about how bad the Houston Texans are, or about who is still in the hunt for a playoff spot. He’s also become obsessed with watching me play Madden 23.

“Hey Dad,” Samson says, “are you going to play Madden today? You probably should.”

Did you know I’m ranked in the top 9,000 Madden players in the country? I’m a sicko.

Samson likes to play Madden with me too. We are usually the Bills or the Eagles. And we usually play against the Texans. Because the Texans are terrible. Samson controls the running back. We play on easy difficulty. I hand it off to him a hundred times. He dances when he gets first downs. He howls with rage if we win by less than 28 points.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that Samson is becoming a football fan. I’m a football fan. It’s just that, over the last three weeks, I’ve heard “hey Dad” followed by something about football about a million times.

Starts to take a toll.


The Tanner family hopped into our 2019 Honda CRV last week. Drove to Minneapolis on a Thursday morning. Spent Friday in my hometown. Drove back on Saturday. Narrowly avoided impending snowstorms.

We saw a few people we haven’t seen in a million years. Apologies if you’re somebody I love in the Twin Cities and I didn’t see you. There’s too many people to see and not enough time to see them. And I’m always toting two children with me. It’s a challenge.

I do think the trips to the Twin Cities will become more frequent as we get settled here in Iowa City. There will be time enough to reconnect with the friends and family that I’ve missed since my great Pennsylvanian exodus in the summer of 2015.

We spent Friday night with Katie’s brother. Haven’t seen him and his family since before the pandemic. Our children played with their children. We went tubing at Elm Creek Park on Friday night. Steep and slick hills. Solomon and Samson howled as we sped down the slopes. I groaned as I dragged their tubes back up to the top.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed standing at the top of that sledding hill on a cold, Minnesota night in December. Icy black skies. Warm because of the work of dragging tubes up hills. Cheeks rosy red. My children exuberantly sledding with their cousins. Worth the five-hour drive, for sure.

A couple of days to break up this winter break. I’m sure there will be more trips to the cities. That was one of the draws of moving to Iowa City. Close enough to the Twin Cities to reconnect with family a little bit.

“Hey Dad,” Samson said, “I’m glad we live closer to Minnesota.”

Hey Samson, me too.


School starts soon. The Spring semester starts soon. More work. More routine.

I did get to take a break from The University of Iowa over winter break. A much needed break. Take a deep breathe. Wrap my head around my new surroundings. Get ready to get back to work.

And three quick days in Minnesota did allow me to pay more attention to my children. To be a present father. That’s a good thing. Samson is seven and Solomon is nine now. And don’t get me started on Katie’s brother’s children. I think they’re in their late 70’s. Time moves so fast. Infants and toddlers are replaced by giants.

It’s nice to freeze time on an icy sledding hill in Minnesota. Spend a moment together.

So maybe I still do relish winter break. Savor it. Just savor it differently. Nothing says the same. Everything is always changing as things drag on. So you just change with it.

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