Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 12, 2008

Holiday hype

Every year around Oct. 31, I start hyperventilating. I love Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I wish those three holidays didn't fall so close together so I'd have time to relish each one in turn.

But alas, such is not to be the case - at least not if I think I need to keep up with friends who transform their homes into winter wonderlands in a single weekend or with retailers who replace goblin costumes and candy corn with Christmas trees and candy canes as soon as the trick-or-treaters have gone home.

As an introvert, I often have difficulty dealing with how fast-paced life seems to be. Introverts are energized by being alone to process what life is throwing at them while extroverts thrive on being around others. That's not to say we introverts don't enjoy social situations - just that after being around people awhile, we need to step back for some solitude.

When my friend Deb told me that she and daughter Stacey were among the thousands of people who awoke early the day after Thanksgiving to shop for early-bird specials, I shuddered. I told her that shoulder-to-shoulder shopping with strangers would have been my worst nightmare. Black Friday indeed! My idea of a good time that day was taking Mom and daughters Mariya and Katie to Salina to spend some quality time with a few close family members.

So how do I cope with the hubbub and hype of the holiday season? Slowly - very slowly.

Katie and I started by getting out our collection of nativities a couple of days after Thanksgiving. In addition, she decorated her three-foot tree and put it in her bedroom and we hung her grade-school-made plastic wreath on the front door. That was the extent of that weekend's Christmas activities.

This past weekend, we got out some of the girls' favorite Christmas books from when they were little - The Cobweb Christmas, The Tale of the Perfect Christmas Tree, The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Polar Express and The Last Straw. We included books from husband Art's and my past - Santa's Toy Shop from 1950 and Mickey Mouse Goes Christmas Shopping from 1953. And we took some time to look at each book.

I also gathered pine cones and small evergreen branches from our yard and arranged them in an old wooden tool box made by Uncle Bud. It will serve as a holiday welcome on our front step.

A few outside activities on the weekend were more than enough to get me in the Christmas spirit. One was the annual breakfast with my gal-pals from work. Another was the Swedish supper in Olsburg, a fairly-recent addition to our holiday traditions. And on Sunday, Mariya, Katie and I spent a couple of hours shopping at the mall.

This coming week will bring more Christmas luncheons and decorating, but again, I'll try to keep things at a manageable level so I can savor each activity.

Eventually I'll start working with Art on our annual calendar using photos from our year of activities. And I suspect it's time to start thinking about our Christmas letter. But I figure if we get it sent by New Year's Day, that will be more than soon enough.

Just because everyone else is hyperventilating doesn't mean I have to. Now if I just remember to keep telling myself that!

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