If you’re an introvert who celebrates any of the late year holidays, then sometime around the beginning or middle of October you probably became aware of a nagging thought that it’s getting to be that time again. If you have family members to love, then your thoughts about the holidays are not all bah humbug, of course. We treasure these days to get together with people who love us unconditionally, even if they never quite figured us out. But something about too many hours of togetherness, work parties where our attendance is all but mandatory, and even being unable to even run the simplest errand in late December without loud, pressing crowds, are not exactly relaxing thoughts. There’s really nothing I can do to help most of those things 🙂 but I thought we’d all feel better with a post about holidays and a chance to share some stories. Also, it can make us all feel better as we go through the next month and a half if we know we can come back to this post to tell horror stories – and hopefully find humor in them.
When I was a child and even a young woman in my first job, I truly loved all holidays just like the media tells us we do. A few years later I moved away from my hometown so then I was in the position of staying overnight vs. just making day trips when there were major holidays. Also, I got to my first company that had a holiday party each December on the busiest weekend of all – the weekend right before Christmas. Oh sure, I didn’t get to see my coworkers enough during the week; I’d absolutely love to devote the last Saturday night before Christmas to spending the evening making small talk with their spouses and desperately looking toward the door, the band, anywhere except where I was sitting. I especially love a good crowded mall, with the noise level so high that it seems like my ears are ringing, and parking lots so full of life it’s a wonder I make it out of there without a dent in my car.
But enough of that bitter-sounding stuff. I know we’re all in different situations. Some of us have family to spend the holidays with, which will bring with it the need for some recharge time. Some of us have nowhere to go, and maybe we’re OK with that, but we have coworkers and onlookers who will prod, “What are YOU doing for the holidays?” Here are some ideas I have – please feel free to add to them in the comments!
- If you go to spend days and nights with family, of course sneak in some recharge time before you end up getting so uncomfortable you hurt someone’s feelings. Take a “nap,” which really might be just being alone in your room, or take a walk, bike ride, or whatever you can manage. Don’t underestimate the value of just 30 minutes to say, “Ahhhhh…” in pleasure, as you’re finally alone. I lost my sweet dad a few years ago, and my mother is in her 80s. I’m just about as introverted as they come, but I am looking forward to the holidays this year, just thankful to be able to spend them with her, my sister and her family, and my own teen-aged kids. So don’t let your abrasive aunt or critical cousin ruin the holidays for you or make you avoid family gatherings. If you have loved ones you want to be with, then be sure to do that if you can.
- If you have no family around and are considering spending the holidays alone, be sure that’s really want you want to do. Sometimes someone far away will invite us to come to their home, and our knee-jerk reaction might be to say no thanks. But then as the holiday starts looming, we might wish we had taken more time to make that decision. I think it’s perfectly OK to say, “That sounds nice! May I let you know in a few days, when I see how things are going at work?”
- If you really do want to spend the holiday alone and have some good movies/books/projects in mind, I think it’s fine to be vague when the real pushy people demand your itinerary. I’m talking about the ones who will steamroll right over you, saying, “You’re coming to our house, and I’m picking you up at noon. No arguments!” With them I think it’s fine to say, “Oh, I have some family dropping in, then I might go visit some friends…”
- If you dread being lonely and are going to be alone, animal shelters need people to feed and care for animals 365 days a year, and of course human shelters and soup kitchens are in the same boat. Their regular volunteers might have been hoping for one or more days away. So make arrangements in advance – in case you need some training of some kind – then you’ll know you will be happily engaged that day – a great day you do not have to go to work but will bring some comfort to others.
- Do some chores ahead of time so you can coast later. Often I spend two solid weeks in December cleaning my house, running crazy last-minute errands to buy things I could have bought anytime (baking ingredients, tape, batteries,..), searching for holiday stuff I know I put somewhere, and similar things. A couple of years ago in a last-minute panic it dawned on me. “I could start finding my Christmas tablecloths on Halloween from now on!” 🙂 So today I actually went to the supermarket and bought the common baking things like brown and white sugar, and I’m also already starting to do the decluttering that will make cleaning easier each week the rest of the year. My purpose is to have time to relax during the next six+ weeks. Time to relax and enjoy rather than feel anxious and time-urgent.
Of course there are many more facets to the holiday dilemma. There are in-laws, parties – especially if you have an extroverted spouse or partner, neighborhood gatherings, stress, and many other things. What’s your survival plan for the holidays?
Photo credit: 416style