It’s winter break!! I have four weeks off between terms, and I’m spending all of it in Indiana with my family. My introverted self has a bed made up in the kids’ play room, since all the bedrooms are occupied by nine other people (six adults and three children age six and under). Exhausted from a long, hectic fall term, I’ve spent my time here helping Dad finish a house, running errands with Mom, staying up super late with my siblings, playing with the kids, editing a book, and starting a brand new freelance job.
Such great R&R. ;)
I exaggerate, of course. I mean, I have done all those things, but I’ve also slept in, hung out at Barnes & Nobel, and meandered through two great art galleries. I enjoy helping Dad by insulating doorways and painting baseboards. I have a great time hanging out with Mom and staying up late to reminisce and play games. And between my Mom and two sisters-in-law (and their husbands), I haven’t had to cook once! As for my freelance work, the editing is fun and the new gig is exciting.
Still, when I was mentally preparing myself for spending four weeks surrounded by people and activity, I started feeling a bit protective of my “vacation” time. I penciled in short, periodic side trips by myself to other cities. I asked my brother to figure out some kind of locking mechanism for the French doors of my make-shift bedroom. I reminded myself that I would be on vacation, and that I needed this break.
But a week or two before coming out here, I was disgruntled to realize that wasn’t an ideal attitude. After all, I was going to Indiana expressly to spend time with family. Was it going to be full of rest and relaxation? No. But that’s ok.
Now, I’ll admit that when our party grew from eight people to ten I was momentarily overwhelmed and stated that I had reached my people threshold. I may have grumbled a bit from time to time. It’s possible that I’ve occasionally hidden from the children. But overall, I think I’ve done pretty well!
So far, I haven’t crashed; no curling up on the couch in the middle of the day, unable to participate in the fun, noisy activity going on around me because of introversion-related exhaustion. I’ve been a willing helper most of the time. I’ve played with the kids enough that the boys made me a present yesterday, and the baby has decided to let me hold her.*
Home is where the people are, and it’s good to be home for Christmas. Through nightly Advent rituals and spontaneous family caroling sessions, I’ve been enjoying all the Christmas music – I’ve even developed a tolerance for Go Tell It on the Mountain and Jingle Bells!** I also have six people on hand to discuss my freelancing outlook and celebrate new jobs with, and I’m taking a certain amount of pride in the fact that I somehow became the de facto present-wrapper for pretty much everyone. On top of all that, it’s deliciously cold here, and I’m happy to be away from the Willamette Valley rain.
I’m still not a perfect daughter/sister/aunt, and my so-called vacation is less R&R than whirlwind, but it’s Christmas. We’re all under the same crowded roof, singing and playing and generally enjoying each other’s company. And in two days we’ll go to church and open presents in celebration of the incarnation of Christ. Life is good.
Merry Christmas. :)
*She’s a very suspicious child. She still throws the occasional scowl my way, but for the most part we’re cool.
**It helps when you have a four-year-old demanding that you say “one moose open sleigh” instead of “one horse open sleigh.”