I'm on my Christmas break right now. One of the perks of being a teacher. I would suggest that everybody should get this much time away from work -- if not more. Yes, I'm a big proponent of this cause. From the site:

"Vacations are vanishing. Only 14% of Americans will get a vacation of two weeks or longer this year. A third of women and a quarter of men get no annual leave anymore, as annual leave benefits are being eliminated like pensions. Many others are afraid to use their paid leave for fear they could be laid off or demoted if they do. No wonder the average American vacation is now down to a long weekend."

Other interesting facts:

* We're putting in longer hours on the job now than we did in the 1950s, despite promises of a coming age of leisure before the year 2000.

* In fact, we're working more than medieval peasants did, and more than the citizens of any other industrial country.

* Mandatory overtime is at near record levels, in spite of a recession.

* On average, we work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than our peers in Western Europe do.

* Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks. Many of us (including 37% of women earning less than $40,000 per year) get no paid vacation at all.

So don't hassle me for having a Christmas break, a Spring break, and a Summer break. I'm just doing my career the right way, the healthy way. Plus, this extra time is usually the justification for low teacher salaries -- eight years at the same job, and I'm making barely more than when I started. During the summer, the more guilty-minded teachers usually waste away doing workshops or summer school. I spend the time with my daughter or writing. Yesterday, I was raking leaves.

The perspective is a little off, but I swear this pile is at least 5' tall. Enjoy your time off. Don't feel guilty about it. You deserve more.