Friday, November 28, 2014

Quiet after the storm.....


We started Thanksgiving Day with a slip of a little grey puppy dragging herself out from under the covers, to watch the Macy's parade with us. I don't actually watch the entire parade; rather, I like the background noise of it, the staying-in-pajamas-lazy-on-the-sofa-til-it's-completely-over of it. I don't  love all the singers lip-synching songs I've never heard. I do love, love seeing the Rockettes, with their high-kicking, synchronized legs, and all the red-nosed people bundled up, kids on their dads' shoulders, watching. I love seeing life celebrated through my television screen, but being there in the middle of it all sounds like too much.

After the parade, and of course we joined the other 20 million people who watched the bloodhound win Best of Show, then we stuffed the turkey and got it in the oven. Most of the big work was done the day before - side dishes, pies and table settings. I don't want anything about this day to be hurried or full. 

Late afternoon we poured a glass of wine, and wandered out to the patio by the pool. One last hour of quiet conversation before the festivities would swing into high gear. 

As we walked in the back door they were walking in the front. High voices and squeals from grandkids as they spied Lily; family and friends and a stranger thrown in for good measure. Hugs were given, dishes offered up, jackets taken, and the kitchen was full to the brim in one fell swoop. 

And I loved it. All of it. 

We gathered around the table, held hands and Cub Sweetheart prayed for us, put words to the thoughts of Thanksgiving we all had in our hearts, and for one minute there was only the sound of his voice, soft and slow as he spoke what was on his heart, this man of few words.

Then it was a rush for food, grabbing plates and filling them, talking over each other, laughter and squeals and on it went in a wonderful, wonderful way. For two solid hours the table was more than full of people and conversation and family stories that have been shared before, and will be again, because there's richness in the hearing.

I watched a few around our table. As the conversation grew livelier, four of the ten adults slid into an observer's role. They listened, and said very little. They were engaged but quiet. Resting in the midst of it all.

When it was all said and done, the little ones had had all they could take, having eaten nothing and shedding half their clothes as little ones tend to do, because pants get in the way of eating and playing, don't you know?, then we all headed back to the kitchen. We cleaned up in frenzy, and I was oh so thankful for all the helping hands. Within minutes there was no sign Thanksgiving ever happened, except behind the doors of two refrigerators. 

Then they were all out the same door they came through only hours before, full and happy. Some were headed to a local theater to catch a late movie, some to go home and climb in bed as quick as they could, and some were off for all-night shopping, the thought of which horrified me. 

I had a conversation with Cub Sweetheart only a few days before about all the holiday hubbub. He told me about a talk he heard on public radio: Why the holidays are hard for introverts by Sophia Demling.  It's not an issue of shy or not, loud or quiet, it's what fills and drains the tank for each of us. 

I've realized over the years that our family of five has only one true, true extrovert  - our middle daughter. A couple more have married in, and a few have been produced through three marriages. I fall near the middle of the scale. How introverted or extroverted I am generally depends on the situation. I remember meeting girlfriends for coffee, having a wonderful time;  I loved being with them, but after I left there I tended to hole up alone for awhile. I don't think my more extroverted girlfriends ever understood this - a need to recharge after emptying out from being with people. I am generally NOT a quiet person, I love gathering and festivities and celebrating life, but afterwards I need books and quiet and soaks in the tub and a lot of alone time.  A few of my more extroverted friends leave planning the next get-together! Cub Sweetheart has a even smaller need than me to be with people to begin with, and when he does he's completely worn out afterwards. He's happy to do small talk with strangers, but if he has to hold up the bulk of conversation with people - even those he knows well - he's ready for some serious down time afterwards. I wish I'd understood this twenty years ago. He does too.

I recently had someone mention a book to me, 'Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking', by Susan Cain. This next year I'm going to read it. I'm thinking I'll start it on January 1, my all-time, hands-down favorite day of the year. The holidays are over, the cooking is all done and leftovers abound in the fridge, there's nothing that needs decorating, everyone has headed home, and the only sound in the house is the background noise of a parade. I do love, love seeing the floats decorated with flowers, all the kids on their dads' shoulders, watching. I love seeing life celebrated, but I wouldn't actually enjoy being there in the middle of it all. I'd much rather be home, on my sofa in pajamas with our slip of a little grey puppy beside me.

Thoughts? Are you an extrovert, or introvert, or somewhere in between? If you're more on the introverted side, how do you cope with the craziness that runs from mid-November thru the end of the year? If you're not sure which you are, you can go HERE to take a test, given by the author of the book 'Quiet....',  that might give you a better idea where you fall on the scale. 

2 comments:

Lori said...

Hi Bev, it's interesting that you wrote about this topic during this holiday season, because at 43, I'm just coming to terms with needing quiet and alone to recharge. I never thought I was an introvert since I really do enjoy being with people, but I'm pretty drained afterward, and am becoming more and more like my daddy, who would suddenly disappear, toward the end of family gatherings, only to be found puttering in the backyard or garage. I was usually the one to go and find him, and the two of us would feed the critters together, or re-load shotgun shells for his Thursday night trap and skeet league. I haven't had as much success at disappearing like he did, but I'd like to figure out ways to retreat and recharge this holiday season.

Bev said...

Hi Lori, it sounds like all indications are that you are indeed an introvert, or at least lean hard that way. A simple thing I've learned, over the years, is to get a calendar that shows an entire week, rather than one day. I pencil in what I call 'white space' - days that have nothing on them, to make up for those days that are crammed full. And I especially love plans that cancel at the last minute - new found time! Prayers for a peaceful holiday season for you and yours. Bev