Calling all Extroverted Introverts (you know who you are)! The season is upon us where we must embrace the crazy of busy shopping malls, numerous family gatherings, awkward Christmas parties, and over-excited kids. Walk that line with grace, my friend. For deep in you is a torn and ever-battling heart that needs to read cues closely and tend its garden and create margin in a season of margin-less extravagance.
The extrovert in me loves to browse the Target aisles with a peppermint latte in hand while eavesdropping on conversations in the long checkout lines. I eagerly await the family trip to Dollywood to ride the rides with pink cheeks and red noses. To watch the shows and look in wonder at the glittering lights. And for days, nay weeks, nay months, I anticipate the screams and squeals and joy of family Christmas parties. Tables piled high with food, half a dozen conversations at once with not-often-seen family, and the hum of football announcers floating out from the den.
Oh Christmas, the holiday heaven of cheerful Elf-loving extroverts everywhere.
But the introvert in me? That secret little one deep inside who craves silent mornings with a cup of coffee bathed in the glow of Christmas lights and a crackling fire. The one who sneaks to the bathroom to breathe and hold her hands gently over her ears for a moment in the middle of a loud, festive party. The girl who feels the noose tightening its grip on her neck and her heart and her attitude after a mere two hours of being surrounded by people. These confessions are from her. The quiet one. The one that hides out deep inside until she snaps…
She snaps alright. Usually in the evenings after a long day at school with buzzing, loud, Christmas-high kindergarteners. When my boy wants to be wiggling and fighting sleep on my lap and my girl is dramatically editing her Christmas list…again. The quiet one snaps just as I begin reading our advent book about the peace Jesus brings.
She snaps two hours into an eight-hour day at Dollywood, exacerbated by cold fingertips and the noise of roller coasters and the whine of hungry, tired kids, and the constant pushing through elbows and scarves and blanket-swollen strollers and entire family trees all clawing to see the constantly twinkling and flashing and blinking and blazing of the Dollywood lights.
She snaps in the middle of the ripping and rushing of family Christmas presents. Passing and squealing, shouting and thanking, pleading and pulling. She sees the eager faces and the jealous faces and the disappointed faces and the searching for more faces. She hears the anxious queries for presents. The whining. The reprimands. The calls and cries up the stairs for that missing nephew (who might be an introvert, too). The flying paper. The cluttered floor. The impossible twist ties on the back of the box, sealed forever with industrial-strength tape.
And do you know what she longs for? December 26th.
That one day of slow-filtered sunlight. Late morning coffee. Quiet living rooms. Bedrooms filled with tired wonder and exploration of all the new toys. And not a scrap of wrapping paper in sight. She longs for that day when it’s all over. When the lights twinkle their satisfaction. The baby lays sleeping in His manger. The TV hums one last, weak Christmas episode, and leftovers are on the easy menu for the day.
Oh extrovert, drink deep these happy, cheerful days full of expectation and anticipation. Play loud the carols and beam your painted smile at every parade and tree-lighting and Santa photo you can find. Rip the tissue paper out with fanfare and rejoice at the flurry of Christmas cheer all around!
But you, sweet introvert. Soak in every moment of twinkling peace. Drink deep those warm mugs and cozy blankets. Cuddle close beside that glowing fire, with the gentle songs of advent in your dreaming ears. Walk slowly through falling leaves, breathing in the cool refreshing air of silence, even if just for a moment. And sleep. For goodness’ sake, sleep well this Christmas.