Through late November and December, as darkness consumes more and more of our days, the School of Medicine Building seems to get brighter. From the outside, it seems lit for the season. Inside, the rooms and study spaces are fully occupied. It’s that time of year, of course, when first and second years are preparing for examinations. There’s also a sense of anticipation. Anticipation for the end of exams, to be sure, but also for what’s to come.

Indeed, all the world seems in anticipation as we approach the winter solstice, that moment in time when the combination of orbit and axis of the earth take us farthest from the sun and we receive the least daylight. But after December 22, the light starts to slowly return.

In the Christian tradition, this is the season of Advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation. In the Jewish culture, Hanukkah is celebrated, known as the “Festival of Lights”, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple. Many cultures mark the time of year in various ways, both religious and secular. For all, it’s a time that we instinctively wish to return to the familiar and comforting warmth of home. It’s a time to retreat, refresh, renew.

In the spirit of the season, I offer Christmas wishes for our students:

For first years, increasing comfort with their transition to the profession, with learning for the sake of learning, and for future patients.

For second years, deepening fascination with clinical medicine and comfort with multiple career options.

For third years, increasing confidence in the clinical environment and a growing sense of their own, individual roles within it.

For our fourth years, first choice discipline, first choice program, first time.

For all, a restful, restorative and safe break, and best wishes for the new year all it will bring.