I’ve always been an introvert and an outsider. I think many of us feel that way at times, and some of us are right. For me it was the awareness that I liked playing quirky games with just one other friend and disliked team sports. With one friend we could cooperatively control the narrative and where we wanted to go (literally and figuratively), but with team sports I was told where to go and what to do, whether I agreed with those directions or not. Also, I didn’t get picked for teams until I was the last one on the bench. No one wanted me on their team and I don’t blame them. I can be a little confrontational at times, especially when I don’t agree with the rules.
In my teens I told my dad I wanted to join the military like he did (US Naval Academy, Marines, and Army Air Corps), but he laughed and said I’d wash out because I could never take orders. I think he was right.
As an adult I listen to my husband complain about his students’ parents and co-workers at his school who function like I do: ADHD all over the place, can’t finish a linear thought, and can’t find the way from point A to point B without checking out all the detours. He deals with it too, but his brain handles things differently than mine. He has a sense of what it takes to complete a task and he does it. I respect that, because that is not how my brain works at all. And that’s ok. We balance each other out fairly well most of the time. Not always, but we’re working on it.
Holidays are especially difficult. I want to run from social situations, the obligatory chatter, gift giving, and dealing with food (I have allergies, my hosts usually don’t). And yet, when I’m not invited, it hurts to be left out. I keenly feel the absence of social warmth. When I’m in the thick of that warmth, I want to run from it, hide somewhere, and pretend it’s just another day. And yet, I know we need it to survive in a human society. I also know a lot of you feel the same way because you tell me about it when we meet at social events like quilt shows. I HEAR YOU, I really do. I’m happy and smiling at the show because after 30 years in retail, I can coffee up, make it through the day, then go back home or to my hotel room and just be silent until the show opens the next morning.
You might be surprised to find my blog account has at least one introspective post like this one in the drafts folder for every year I’ve been writing here. I always write them around November or December, not just because I’m avoiding holiday cheer and all that, but also because of the stillness of winter around me. I like that. Although here in Northern California our “winter” is more like the rest of the country’s spring (GREEN THINGS EVERYWHERE SPROUTING OUT OF THE EARTH OMG BIRDS BEES FLOWERS TREES), there still is a sense of rest and peace. Honest, there is, if I could just find it. There’s a lot of traffic noise outside from shoppers getting their last minute gifts here downtown today and at night the bars are all still hopping, so ok, I lied.
Maybe you’re an outsider, too. You do the family things because you were taught that this is The Way. You bake cookies, share them with neighbors, make crafts with the kids at school, put up lights and a wreath and a tree, whatever. I applaud you. It’s difficult to be an introvert when everyone is trying so hard to come together and all you want to do is fall apart. Humans need warmth, social or otherwise. Right now my toes are numb because I’m on the second floor of an old house that has only one heater on the ground floor, so I get it.
I celebrate the Winter Solstice because it reminds me that for thousands of years our ancestors all over the world felt the turning of the earth from darkness to light, and that’s important to me. You can still say “Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Holidays/etc.” to me and I’ll say it right back to you. It’s a celebratory season. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate Christmas with my in-laws. They do decorations, a big tree, the whole shebang. My husband and I don’t bother. We could, but we don’t. Besides, I have a moral objection to cutting down trees and putting them in the house. It’s a fire hazard and bad for the tree. I still think your decorations are pretty.
And yet… ’tis the season for being at least a little social, as much as you can handle it. The night is long and
full of terrors. Oh wait, that’s Game of Thrones. Sorry. The night is long and spring is far away. A little warmth will do you good.
Light the candles, bake the cookies, mull the wine. Let’s do this.