There are so many things I love about the holiday season.
I am in awe of Mother Nature. The shifting colors of the landscape and then the pristine expanse of fresh snow fall across the landscape set my heart afire. There’s the gathering with friends and family, sharing a meal along with our stories of living while we’ve been a part.
I adore decking the halls: my beloved nativity, the lights on the Christmas trees, and the placement of favorite vintage ornaments. I am besotted with sitting by the fireplace in the early evenings, sharing quiet time with JB as we wind down from the day.
I love eating dinner off of holiday dishes (pumpkins for fall and holly for Christmas). There is, of course, the holiday foods and no matter what the “red cup” looks like, indulging in my favorite holiday beverage.
But of course, there are things I don’t love. Those family members that try to control where we spend each holiday gathering. The crowds of cranky shoppers encountered when the only thing on my list is paper towels and laundry detergent.
I don’t enjoy how harried others become as they worry and often over purchasing in hopes of just the right gift that will make others love us more. The impatient lady in front of me at Starbucks complaining about how long it’s taking to place her order makes me a little irritable, too.
As an extrovert, I pick up on energy of others. When I am alone too much, I feel uninspired or a little sluggish. Talking through an idea with others feeds my creativity. Being around others fuels me, usually in a good way. A shopping trip or dinners out are good ways for me to relax.
As an introvert, JB’s energy is like a football deflating, drained from being around others. An average day can feel taxing and multiple days of teaching and meetings leads to exhaustion where all he craves is some alone time with his XBox. He requires alone time (or quiet time with just the two of us) to get is equilibrium and energy back.
We are the yin and yang of how we fuel our energy, and like any couple, balance of each other’s needs is the key to harmony at home.
Why am I talking about this in light of the holiday season?
Because what I dislike the most about the holiday season: how all the stress of others we come in contact with out in the real world clings to us like mud even when we arrive back safely back in the sanctuary of our homes.
For an extrovert like me, it means that I feel irritable, cranky, angry and/or sad and because I have all that excess energy from being around others, it can take me hours to shed that excess energy. I can’t help but bring it home with me, which will impact anyone at home.
For an introvert like JB, it means not only is he drained, but he shifts into exhaustion. The last thing he wants to do is talk, which is one of the best ways for me to discharge the excessive energy of mine.
During the time of year we most desire to have joy and peace, we inadvertently cause conflict in our home because of the yin and yang of household energies.
You want to go to a dozen parties, he wants to avoid all the holiday gatherings, except the one at his mom’s. You want to go out and watch the shoppers, she wants to light the fireplace and hope all presents are purchasable online.
Each of humans has a preferred way of managing our time, energy, and lives. Most of us choose a system of managing the various aspects of our lives through trial and error until we happen upon the tools that allow us to function at our best.
The holidays, thanks to the shifts in our routines and schedules can shift the way we use the tools. Our familial and social obligations push the edges of our ability to stay centered, let alone be our best selves.
I use myself and JB as the example here, but this balance of energy applies to everyone in your household, including our children.
Imagine how overwhelming it is for an introverted child to have to deal with all the noise of the holidays. It’s challenging for an adult, and children have had less time to learn to manage all those drains on their energy. And now imagine the people in charge insisting that we go to a big gathering with a lot of strangers.
Imagine being that extroverted child, fueled by the excitement of Santa, the energy of the crowds and the excitement of the lights. And now imagine being told to settle down and be quiet.
Every member of the family should be able to trust that home is the one place we find retreat from the world. We need to trust that at home, we get to be ourselves. Without family members insisting we behave differently than our natural way of managing the world around us.
Each one of us has a responsibility to the people we love to consider how they are wired when we are making plans, especially during the holidays. This requires balancing and compromise.
The introverted partner attends a holiday party when he’d rather nestle in at home. To balance things out, the extroverted partner deals with the bulk of the holiday shopping so the introverted partner doesn’t have to deal with the crowds. Balance and compromise at work.
As parents or caregivers responsible for little ones, we allow the extroverted children to tell us all about their day, even when we’re too tired to listen. And we don’t push our introverted children to hug and talk to relatives they never see and maybe, just maybe, we allow them to retreat to a quiet room to read a book.
Yes, each one of us adults is responsible for managing our own energy, but when we commit to love and cherish another, we also take on the responsibility to care about their needs.
And as parents, we remember that our children are not carbon copies of us, having their own personalities and needs that make them unique.
The holidays to not have to mean additional stress and strain on anyone in the family.
We can usher in thanks and gratitude when we consider the needs of our loved ones. We allow for peace and joy when we balance the needs of everyone , especially when it comes to the ways the holidays effect everyone’s energy.
We can give the people we love the gift of understanding, love, and respect when we tend their needs for company or quiet. The care and feeding of introverts and extroverts is one way we can shine during the holidays. And when we consider the differing needs of introverts and extroverts in our home, we nourish our own selves and enrich our life.
Not sure if you are an Introvert or Extrovert? Unsure how your partner is wired? Take one of the free personality tests (HumanMetrics / Keirsey / 16 Personalities). Understanding the personalities of loved ones allow us to live in better harmony.