Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is My Introverted Christmas Wish

Let's recap, shall we?

Almost exactly a week ago, I was returning from my bonus two days in Quebec City.  Since then, I've:

  • finished my Christmas shopping
  • sent out the Christmas cards
  • made granola and delivered gifts to dance teachers, church teachers, and school teachers
  • thrown Jemma's birthday party
  • gotten caught up on cleaning, laundry, and general boring life things
  • gotten a new writing assignment, and set up interviews and photo shoots
  • shopped for, cooked, wrapped, and hosted Jason's immediate family for Christmas dinner on Sunday and the in-laws overnight for the weekend
  • baked four dozen cookies for my neighborhood cookie exchange, which was last night
  • stayed up until midnight every single night, yet only watched .5 hours television
One other thing I snuck in there was an hour of yoga on Friday morning. It was my reward for tackling such a ridiculous to-do list on Wednesday and Thursday.  I was hanging there in forward-fold when Dana said, "Your job is to choose peace amid the mayhem at the holidays."  I love that:  peace amid the mayhem.  Because there is mayhem, for sure.  There are kids home from school, now, 24/7, and overnight guests and bringing two appetizers to Holland and still (still!) a pile of presents to wrap on the basement floor; there are cookies to exchange and sledding hills promised and thank-you notes to write and still (still!) three more family parties to dress the family for and bring the family to; there's the fact that it's 9:23 p.m. and it looks like I'm just not going to shower today, the fact that I finally showered at 5:30 p.m. yesterday, just in time to go to the cookie exchange not wearing workout clothes; the wish for each day to contain a little magic and the accompanying effort that requires; the slumping realization in church Sunday morning that approximately .0025% of all this activity has anything to do with the actual reason that we are celebrating this holiday.  

It seems like "Honor the birth of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" has turned into "Buy a ton of stuff for everyone you know, then try to see every member of your extended family within a ten-day period while bringing Homemade Special Food and keeping your kids from going cuckoo."  As an introvert, this turn of events makes me a little bitter.  I like spending time with my friends and family; I like buying people gifts; I like making Homemade Special Food and bringing it places; and I like spending time with my children.  But?  I don't really like doing it all day, every day, for two weeks in a row with no break.  

I used to think there was something wrong with me, because what kind of Scrooge doesn't love to gather with friends and family?  But then I read the true definition of introversion.  Contrary to the common understanding of an introvert as "someone who is shy," introversion really means that a person's energy level is slowly sapped by being in the constant presence of others.  Extroverts, in contrast, are actually energized by being around other people.  This probably explains why, at the end of a great night out with friends, where Jason and I have both had a truly fun time, I am ready to wrap it up and go home, while he always, always wants to move the party to another location and stay up for six more hours.  I'm drained, he's on fire, it's sort of a problem.  It probably explains why, after a few hours spent reading, writing, running alone, or thinking, I'm brimming with energy, ready to go out and Do Something Productive.  When Jason tries to read, he falls asleep.

So embracing all the festive flutter of the holidays is a challenge for me every year.  I know that's hard to understand if you're an extrovert, but think of it this way:  How would you like to celebrate Christmas every year by going on a silence retreat, just you, your Bible, your journal, and some meditative chanting CDs by a cozy fire for days on end?  If you're Jason, I'm sure you'd want to run screaming in the other direction.  Or maybe you'd say a silence retreat would be fine for a few hours, yes, but then you'd need to recharge by being with friends at a cocktail party, or meeting up with your running group, or sitting down to a big, loud Christmas dinner.  In an ideal world, that what I'd want:  a mix.   A few hours of festive events here and there, cushioned with at least a little time to myself every day.  And it just ain't gonna happen for the next week, I know.  Even now, as I'm writing this, my to-do list mocks me from the counter, and I know I need to wrap presents before I go to bed, and the girls will be one inch from me all day tomorrow.

Today, the solstice, I am still holding Dana's instruction in my mind.  On the darkest day of the year, I am always somehow cheered:  it's just going to get brighter and lighter from here on out.  I am looking for and choosing peace right in there with the mayhem, because the mayhem is not going to go away, let's be honest, but if I look hard enough, I can see the glimmers of peace, the moments that say, "This makes it worth it:"

"Tidings of comfort and joy."  That's what our Christmas card says this year, and that what I wish for:  comfort, joy, and peace amid the mayhem.

1 comment:

  1. In the presence of it all you make it seem like it's simple to pull off, and you write about it so spot-on. Thanks for hosting us and putting up with our mayhem. It was good to share chaos for a few hours. :)