Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Introvert's Holiday Wish List

Dear Friends,

'Tis the season for the world to begin their conspiracy to drive the introverts completely, raving, off-our-nut mad. That there aren't more of us now living in treetops or stowed away in caves is a testament to our extraordinary ability to endure!

The holidays can exact a great price. An introvert pushed to the limits of socializing beyond their comfort zone may get ill, depressed, angry, start to overeat/undereat, appear fussy/cranky/insane/asocial, and become the topic of extended family whispering and speculating. The more you try to withdraw, the more the extraverts want to pull you in. They simply can't believe that anyone can enjoy their full complement of fa-la-la during the holidays in any sort of isolation. Unfortunately, holiday happiness seems to have a mandatory composition of bodies piled high upon the couch-- and days full of endless group herding, movies, board games, e-games, shopping, noisy meals, more shopping, decorating, baking, and talking till people's tongues have nearly dried up.

In the way that it is difficult for people to imagine Christmas without snow, the kind that we have in Santa Barbara, it is difficult for people to imagine (or allow) family or friends to have a quiet, private holiday.

Try and imagine this work conversation--
ME: "Hey, Sam, what do you have planned for your holiday?"
SAM: "All the kids are coming home--and they're bringing friends from school. Sue's family is flying in from Maine and we've rented a bunch of cots for the house, and an outoor inflatable jumper for the kids. Tomorrow we're all going to take the trolley around town and do some caroling. I can't wait! What do you got planned?"
ME: "Jill is working graveyard Xmas Eve, so I'm going to rent The Bell's of St. Mary's, pick up some lasagne from Piatti's and have a quiet evening at home. I can't wait."
PETER: "Wow, Mary, that sounds fantastic!"

Yea, right. You know what is going to happen. Coworker Sam will have an anueryism when he hears my plan, and will not be able to take another breath until I've agreed to at least come on the trolley ride, if not come for a sleep over.

As a public service, I've prepared an INTROVERT'S WISH LIST FOR THE HOLIDAYS. You can print t this out and leave it around the house, your work, or mail to your in-laws. We're linkable too, of course.

1. Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Headphones. I think they should come as standard issue with every introvert's birth. Essential holiday weapon, er, accessory.

2. Bail Out Coupons: Good for a no-questions-asked bailout from any holiday activity. Yes, more than one will be required. Sets of five sound about right.

3. Silent Night Video Store: No overhead music, no DVDs playing, no shoppers allowed to conference call family members to assist in selecting films.

4. More holiday cards, less phone calls or emails that require acknowledgments. I'm pining for more cards--I completely adore them.

5. No singing chipmunks of any kind. Even ones singing Single Ladies.

6. Gift certificates for things that we can do alone. Uh, couples massage? Gosh, think I'll pass. A non-talking facial or any spa activity is good, and book or I-tunes certificates are most appreciated.

7. World End to the Infamous Extravert Gift Exchange where every gift is up for grabs repeatedly, and it is the loudest, longest, most ruthless activity I have ever participated in. I suspect this is a favorite holiday tradition at Sing-Sing or Atica.

8. Much more singing of Silent Night and much less of Frosty the Snowman. More Bare Naked Ladies, less Burl Ives. (But, that's just me.)

9. A Stealth Cookie Exchange that takes place in the dark of the night, and no one actually comes into your home, or you into theirs. You just leave snugly wrapped, delicious cookies and fudge on porches. You get extra points if you aren't detected. (I would be so good at this!)

10. Your idea goes here!

We want to hear your number ten, eleven, twelve. What do all of you need to get through the season? Robin and I will vote on the best idea, and the winner will recieve a ::special:: holiday package from us! Leave your idea in the comment section, or email me privately right here!

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I am off in a couple of days to spend three blessed weeks in Texas with my partner's mom, and her wonderful pups, Hank and Lucy. Said partner must remain at home saving lives, which she does extremely well and shouldn't be pulled away from it. My time in Texas is always seeped in quiet, with lots of acreage for contemplation. It is a gift.

Robin and I are signing off our live broadcasts until after the new year, but we will be running some of our favorite entries from past months. Robin had some great holiday survival tips from last year that should make a reappearance, especially for our new readers. We hope you'll keep coming by during the next couple of weeks, and we'd love to hear from you.

We will be back in the flesh on Monday, January 5th. We've got some great things planned for January, including an interview with an author who you're NeVeR going to believe is an introvert. Don't miss it!

Wishing you each long stretches of silence, and deep pockets of joy--
Mary & Robin


Anonymous said...

Great post Mary, so true this time of year. Excellent list!

Yat-Yee said...

I love #8: Silent Night and the Bare Naken Ladies! (When I was singing with a cover band, we did the BNL's Elf's Lament. Great song!)

I'll have to come back with my wish list later.

Jen Robinson said...

I love the introvert's wish list, Mary. I'm going to print out my copy.

Wishing you and Robin a peaceful holiday.

Yat-Yee said...

Okay, I've got them now:

10: coffee shops and book stores and restaurants that provide areas that are free from the assault of inane Christmas music, those same 10 songs that are played every year ad nauseam.

11: Instead of going from an office party to the PTA cookie exchange to the other office potluck, families will opt to sing their favorite music around the piano, guitar, accordion, ukelele...

12: New gifting tradition: instead of trying to figure out what each person wants for Christmas, or using the practical-but-somewhat-opposite-of-the-spirit wish list, family members will sit around the tree, opening up each person's list of their favorite books that year.

feywriter said...

Such a great list! My favorites are 2, 5, and 9. Here are some of my own.

10: No carpooling to the family event. Allow us to follow in our own car even though others have plenty of space in the suburban. We happen to like the familiarity of our own vehicle, and the lack of conversation.

11: A pass to sit out on the Christmas games. We are willing to watch, but do not need to be pulled in to the "fun". And heaven forbid, please don't assign an introvert to plan and lead the game! (This happened my first Christmas with the in-laws.)

Rebecca Knight said...

I LOVE this list! :D

Getting my loved ones books this year as a way to support the publishing industry has proved a Godsend. I just stroll around in Borders one or two times, and I'm done. LOVE. IT.

Be gone with you, mall!

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that nobody watches Black Friday footage with more horror than an introvert. You couldn't pay us enough to join that mob!

Before I was married, I had a nice Thanksgiving tradition of taking a solitary walk, making a dinner for myself, and meditating on why I was thankful. Loved it! Especially the not-having-to-join-the-crazy-crush-of-travelers part.

Anonymous said...

Love the list! I'd add introvert's night at the mall. Only the first 100 people will be allowed in to maintain lots of room to move freely. Salespeople will lurk quietly in the shadows anticipating needs through body language, but be forbidden from asking a dozen times whether they can help. Vendors who spray perfumes and call out offers of free makeovers will be given the night off. All loudspeaker music will be banned, replaced instead with a live pianist in the corner. Santa, the elves and their photographer will be relocated to the North Pole for the evening to work on the nice/naughty list. Actually, this could just be introvert's hour and a half at the mall, because really, how much shopping can a shrinking violet take before beginning to wilt?
Rebecca L-G

Robin L said...

Oh Em Gee! HOW did you know exactly how I spent Saturday night??

7. World End to the Infamous Extravert Gift Exchange

It was the loudest thing EVER!

What a great list, Mary, and all the additions are spot on. LOVE the idea of an introvert's night at the mall. Love it a LOT!

tanita✿davis said...

#10. A solemn promise that there will be no drop-in guests at any occasion which I've actually agreed to attend. The 'small family dinner' will remain just that: dinner with a small amount of family, and will not be family plus friends, boyfriends, s.o.'s or the neighbor. Just us four, no more.

#11. No accusations of Grinchesque-ness or "Scrooge-lke Bah, Humbug"-ness if I just want to go into my room and read a book. A promise not to tail me, hassle me, whine at me or grump at me and to just suck it up, just this once, because you know this is who I am.

#12. I wish myself lack of guilt for the two previous wishes...

Anonymous said...

#11. "Fake call" iphone application.

Mary Hershey said...

I'm loving these! Keep 'em coming--

What a fabulous list we've got going here. I can tell it is going to be a keeper. Boy, can I EVER tell my tribe is talking. I so ::get:: these.

Thanks, everyone!

Saints and Spinners said...

I would like a set of coupons that would guarantee specific amounts of time (say 2 hour blocks) to read on the couch without being interrupted or exhorted to join in the games. As much as I crave times of silence, I actually like to be in a room with a few people merrily doing their own activities (as long as it doesn't involve playing keyboards or accordions at top volume with no regard to melody).

I've been playing acoustic guitar for four years. Soon after I started, I finally understood why my guitar-playing friends would sit off in a corner and quietly strum. It's a way for the introvert to be part of the group without having to provide chatter.

Alissa Grosso said...

Although it wouldn't work this year since I'm not traveling for the holiday, in year's past I wished for the mother of all snowstorms. Because a) I like snow and b) It's a good excuse to not have to go anywhere. (Yes, I have used not wanting to drive on snowy roads to bail out of an activity only to head out on those same snowy roads to go for a quiet cross country ski through the fresh powder.)

Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays to all, and don't forget:

"oh sorry, I already made plans for that evening" CAN refer to staying in and reading in the bath tub with snacks.

Jessica Marcantel said...

My wish: Large locks on my bedroom door, padded walls so I can't hear anyone screaming at me from the other side, and the Discworld series. :D

Mary Hershey said...

We love these ideas EVER so much-- thanks all of you! Robin will be posting the winner tomorrow. Check on back!