The introverts in the world, Christmas and New Years is probably the worst time of year. Trying to get away from all the noise and distraction is nearly impossible and normal tasks become stress inducing activities because of it. I can’t speak for others, but having a quiet and ordered mind is key to being able to sit down and process. The past week has been anything but quiet and ordered. There was so much that needed to be done; cooking, cleaning, last-minute shopping, wrapping, organizing, decorating, etc. After just over a week without any downtime to speak of, the annual holiday blow up was going to be inevitable.
After surprising myself by keeping it together for my workplace holiday party (Dec 16th) and the daughter’s birthday party (Dec 17th) with a week of prepping for the following weekend, all seemed tolerable. A few things got ordered incorrectly and it was a scramble to work around it. I ordered a few last-minute gifts on Monday (Dec 18th) and paid extra to have them in hand by Dec 23rd, but they didn’t show up. I had two gifts for the wife that weren’t going to be under the tree because they were originally ordered wrong a few weeks back. Turns out that there are shades to the color Brown. Not having a color to work from, I picked the middle shade and it was the darkest shade she wanted. Bah humbug, I took the hit on that. Patiently waiting for the expedited shipment on Dec 23rd, that didn’t arrive, pissed me off. Bah humbug, it’s not my fault this time, but it is because the first order was wrong.
All this non-processed stress and frustration reached a tipping point yesterday, Dec 26th, and I shut down to outside stimulus. I didn’t attempt to do anything except watch TV and read some random IT news. That obviously didn’t go over well with the family and I was all but pushed out the door to go to a movie with them, with more people around me, that I didn’t want to see. Adding to all this, my wife decided to get buttered popcorn. Butter and me don’t have a good relationship and I found myself leaning away from the popcorn bag through most of the movie. This was interpreted as something other than just relief from the offending butter and made things worse. Once we got home, I retreated to my basement office with my laptop and put on the noise cancelling headphones. I spent over 3 hours in my office.
Despite resurfacing from my cave much calmer, the days damage was done and I quickly wished I hadn’t come up for dinner. My wife has said in the past that she understands my need for processing time. Based on what I experienced yesterday though, her actions say otherwise and she really doesn’t get it at all. Multiple occasions I’ve tried to explain it to her, helped her understand what’s going on in my head, but I’m beginning to realize that a life long extrovert will never get it. This season is the only time I find it difficult to find the time I need to stay grounded. I’m not a Christmas person, never was, never will be. My years of thinking boil down to the idea that people who act one way 11 months of the year and a different way 1 month of the year are fake and not worth my energy. Family, friends, co-workers, doesn’t matter. Holiday spirit is not an excuse to treat people nicely 1/12th of year and crappy 11/12th of the year.
I’m mentally preparing myself for New Years this week. We’re doing the usual friends house with lots of food, but this year I’m not drinking. I’ve lost my taste for alcohol in its many forms as I don’t like how it makes me feel, both during consumption and the day after. This guy is waiting, impatiently, for January 2nd. I’m looking forward to the end of this year’s holiday season so I can start preparing for 2018’s holiday season. I’m ready to get started on next year already.
You are not alone. It’s tough getting through the hoopla.
Man, oh, man. My youngest is a lot like me, getting overwhelmed easily and needing lots and lots of downtime, in proportion to the amount of stimulus. I think both he and I would do well with you, in a quiet, introverts-only gathering that involved lots of positive reflection with very minimal call for interaction. I’m glad my extrovert husband understands this not as a judgment of him, but as a function of who we are, and that he appreciates the benefit to all when enough quiet time is had by the introverts.
Makes me wish I lived on the west coast 🙂 I still need to work on the wife to help her understand or at least realize it has nothing to do with her when I disappear for a few hours. It’s just so difficult this time of year, just trying to hang on for a little while longer to get past New year’s.
Good luck. I feel your pain. If it’s any consolation, you’ve gotten way more processing time than I have. For better or worse, I can at least blame any bitchiness on my part on hormones.
There was a time when I was young and I too complained about all the noise and confusion connected to the Holiday Seasons. I hated the house cleaning and the screaming, disorderliness of the kids, the nagging of the wife, the complaining of the neighbors, the many footprints destroying any possibility of grass ever growing in my yard again …. and now that I am old and have been more or less alone for many years now, I look out the window as the snow is falling on a Christmas Eve and a tear silently runs down my cheek and I think to myself silently, “Oh if only I could see that yard filled with kids again or hear the sounds of my precious little children screaming and opening their Christmas presents … but no, there is nothing here but me, this easy chair, that hot toddy on the table over there, the silence, the age, the loneliness …. but at least I am still alive …. or at least I think I am.
Yes, I imagine getting older can be lonely. For me though, the holiday season is a distraction I don’t have the rest of the year. I much prefer being in control of how I spend my time and the holidays don’t give me that ability.
Alive is subjective. Some say that if you believe you’re alive, then you are. Sort of the saying “I think therefore I am.”
Now that the new year is underway, I hope things have calmed down for you and that you’ve had some time to decompress. I enjoy the holidays (doing stuff with my little family unit is great), but all of the gatherings are so taxing that it kinda takes away from the holiday for me.