Even extroverts need down time

Published 5:41 pm Friday, December 6, 2019


Life With a Smile

It wasn’t until I got divorced that I realized how much I enjoy being alone.

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Don’t get me wrong — I am thoroughly extroverted. Being around people gives me energy. I enjoy book club meetings and potlucks with friends. My favorite part of my job is the daily interaction with other people. When pondering the guest list for a social gathering, I believe that more will almost always be merrier.

And yet there is something about a weekend alone that does wonders for the soul. 

An empty house brings with it a profound calmness — at least when it’s relatively clean. You can’t relax when there are dirty dishes in the sink. I also like to have a modest, enjoyable to-do list when I’m spending a weekend without my kids, like working on an art project or finishing a book.  Something that gives me a sense of accomplishment, while being entirely pleasurable to achieve. 

I spent most of Thanksgiving weekend alone — and it was glorious. My kids were with their dad and I managed to gently evade several invitations to join in the holiday celebrations of friends. I had a plan, thanks, and it involved Christmas decorations, pumpkin scones and the new season of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime. 

By Saturday evening, I was nestled on the couch, basking in the light of many festive Christmas lights, drinking a mug of bourbon-spiked apple cider and admiring the absolute perfection that is John Krasinski’s khaki-clad rear end. (With all due respect to the literary prowess of Tom Clancy, we each have our own reasons for enjoying that show.) 

Throughout the weekend, I also made great strides on a new mosaic project and finished a young adult novel that my daughter and I had agreed to read together. Apart from working on Black Friday and a quick meet-up with the kids to see “Frozen II,”, it was just me and the dog all weekend. 

This is my Turkey Day tradition. I love it.

I think my intense desire for solitude over the Thanksgiving weekend stems in part from the realization that nothing about holidays with children is calm. I need to shore up my inner peace before launching into the frenzy of the Christmas season. I go big during Advent, fueled by a deep love of all things yule-related. The traditions of the season make my heart happy and I try to embrace as many as I can.

Thus, my kids thundered home on Sunday afternoon into a frenzy of tree-decorating, hot-chocolate-making and Christmas-carol-dance-partying. The dog didn’t know what to make of the mayhem, but contributed to it happily by sprinting through the house triumphantly squeaking a large rubber pig.  

The holiday warfare broke out instantly, of course, with a disagreement over the proper placement of the shepherd in the nativity scene nearly ending in fisticuffs. My kids also squabbled over who got to snuggle in the fuzzy Christmas blanket first, which Christmas book to read at bedtime and whether or not disliking your sister’s singing voice was reason enough to throw socks at her. 

Life with three kids and a dog is many things — including joyful and rowdy — but never quiet. Sometimes I can rekindle some solitude for a few minutes in the evening after the house has settled down for bed. The twinkling lights on the mantle are soothing, but inevitably, something intrudes into the stillness. Last night it was a 6-year-old with a random, spontaneous nosebleed. 

It’s important to grab the moments of peace and quiet where you can.