Holidays for the Beleaguered

The holiday season is funny for me. In my case it’s Christmas (the zero-religious kind) and enjoying hangouts, good food, gift-giving and whatnot. But if I’m being one hundred percent honest, as I like to be on this blog, this time of year is tricky for me because my ideal holiday pretty much involves seeing no one whatsoever.

To be clear: I love my family and enjoy spending time with them. And I’m not just saying that because they might read this. I’m also lucky in that the holiday season isn’t the only time I see them in a year. But those non-holiday visits are automatically different than Christmas, because Christmas generally involves a lot of running around, trying to organize events, making sure you see everyone you want to spend time with and balancing your time fairly. There’s an extra layer of complication and therefore an expenditure of energy you don’t get when you just take a weekend in the summer to go back to your hometown. Or at least, that’s what I find. And so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little exhausted by Boxing Day, and ready to flip my settings back to introvert and hide for a day or seven.

To be clear: I have a good time at Christmas. But my ideal holiday (if you speak generally and remove “Christmas” or whatever from the equation) is probably to take a few days and have no contact with anyone. Turn my phone off, don’t touch my email, and spend some days to myself. So much of our lives is spent engaging with people all the time, and a writing career demands a surprising amount of that, but that means that when I’m given a holiday, my instinct is to turtle and talk to no one. Which I feel is a common thing for writers, and something that we can’t do during a holiday like Christmas, since it’s a time meant to be spent with other people, right? And if you say on Christmas afternoon, “Breakfast and gifts were great, but I’m going to see if I can block out the world for an hour and pound out some words, then see you at dinner” odds are you’ll get a look from someone, which then takes all the fun out of keeping to yourself for a bit.

To be clear: apparently I’m using a repetitive device for this post. More importantly, I’m grateful to have loved ones to spend the holidays with, really. But sometimes your mind and body are screeching that they need time away and you can’t do that, and it takes a little bit of a toll that most people don’t talk about, since you don’t want to insult your family or loved ones. But everybody needs a little introvert time, and the holidays can be hard if you’re naturally an introvert, even if you like spending time with your family (and we aren’t all that lucky). The problem is that we usually don’t feel like we can, and I’m as guilty as anyone of not taking the time to myself I know I need, even on December 25. I’m getting better at it, but it’s a work in progress, and maybe I’ll better at it a year from now.

Wherever you are, if you spent the last few days celebrating a holiday, I hope it was a blast. And if you’re like me and you need to space out your time spent with other people, I’ll raise a cup of tea to you later, when I’m hiding from the world 🙂

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