As children, perhaps the happiest memory of being in school is going home for the winter holidays after nine long months of classes and routine and mess food.
In the excitement, marbles painstakingly won and collected through the year would be given to anyone standing near, including other collectibles of value.
The bus journey would mean throwing up several times along the way, but that was okay, because you were going home anyway. There would be siblings to meet and catch up with, and show off any skill learnt as well, and boast or hide poor academic performance. There would be delicious home cooked meals to eat, and friends at home to go off on picnics with, and do things.
That is the kind of excitement and energy the past week has been all about, particularly for students of boarding schools all across the country.
In the interiors and border towns, quite a few will straightaway look for part time work in mandarin depots, roadside maintenance and other infrastructure projects to earn some money for the next academic session, and to visit the larger urban centres.
In the larger urban centres, some would be planning holidays to neighbouring India, sometimes rolled together with the annual pilgrimage trip, or to a third country, if the means are there. Some will spend most of their holidays in their ancestral village with grandma.
For many families though, who once went through the same excitement of coming home as children, winter holidays can be quite a stressful time, particularly if the kids have reached that age where they are like clay, have not performed well in school, and are as restless as one can get.
Keeping them meaningfully occupied, while ensuring they have a good vacation, poses all kinds of challenges to families, where both parents have to attend to salaried jobs. Quite a few urban residents do not like the winter holidays, because there are so many urban youth wandering around aimlessly, looking for excitement.
Thanks to the availability of more sporting venues, many spend hours there playing off rival teams, others spend a couple of hours everyday learning to play an instrument in a music school. A smaller number perhaps take to the reading initiatives.
Many, however, end up spending hours in front of the TV, or on social networking sites, or watching movies on rent, day in and day out, while parents are at work or leisure.
Today, quite a few parents in urban centres want their children to start doing some work that pays, not because they are short of resources, but so that they understand what it means to earn.
These lessons some learn because they have to and some because they want to.