Christmastime is supposed to be filled with warmth and goodwill, hugs from family and friends, the smell of cinnamon and hot chocolate, and, in my formative years, pigs in a blanket and pork tenderloin. It’s supposed to bring a smile to your face and put joy in your heart. But here’s what they don’t tell you about Christmastime as an adult: It’s really frickin’ stressful.
Case in point: Last week friend-of-the-blog Katie was trying to organize a pre-holiday drinks meet-up among our grad school friends. Everyone immediately threw out the days they were free, and to our chagrin, none of them matched up. “I’ve got this work party,” “This person’s in town,” “That night’s already taken up with this other event,” etc., etc., etc. In our efforts to be festive, there suddenly seem to be eight million more things to do in the day. This week, I had something booked every day after work (and four things on Friday). We get so caught up in the holiday season that we almost forget to enjoy it. We fill our calendars and our stockings.
And all this rejoicing is great, don’t get me wrong. While I’m staying in New York for the holidays for the second year in a row, I finally feel like I have a home here, that I can start making new traditions to go with my old ones: a party at Zelda’s (one of the four aforementioned Friday events), trimming the apartment with my roommates, an eight-hour Star Wars triple feature (episodes IV, V, and VI, on original VHS, naturally), a Monday afternoon eggnog at Rolf’s, Christmas-themed karaoke, a vaguely Hamilton-themed New Years extravaganza. All that stuff is great, and it makes my holidays bright. But at the same time, that’s a lot of human interaction packed into a two-week period.
I love my friends, my roommates, and even my job most days, but when I tell people I’m excited about spending Christmas alone, they look at me like I’m insane. I promise: It’s really okay. I learned as a teenager that I am a hardcore introvert. I need alone time like other people need companionship. It’s always been hard for me to explain because, unlike your stereotypical introvert, I’m good with people. I can talk to strangers fairly easily, and I’m not what one would call shy. I use these skills to my advantage on a regular basis — I do work in the customer service industry, after all — but being good with people and getting energy from being around people are two very different things.
Some people are buoyed by interpersonal interactions. It makes them more energized and excited (I’m pretty sure Zelda is one of those people, which is great — it’s why she’s always the hostess). But I’m not like that. Maybe it comes from being an only child; growing up, I was my only entertainment, and I was mostly okay with that. Introverted doesn’t mean shy, or closed off, or misanthropic. It just means I need to be alone sometimes.
Which is why the prospect of spending Christmas by myself looks so good. I spend a lot of time with people, approximately fifty-five hours of my work week and of course my added social life (again, I want to emphasize that I’m very pleased to have both of those things), but this year Christmas is going to be nearly 36 hours of me being one with the couch: no roommates, no dog, no work. And since I’ll be at work for both Christmas Eve and Boxing day, I’m going to savor this time.
The museum will close up early on Christmas Eve, and maybe if I’m lucky the weather will be seasonally appropriate (all signs point to warm and rainy, but hey, a girl can dream). I’ll get to go home while it’s still light out. Make a pit stop in Gramercy Park for the one day it’s open to the public, and another at Trader Joe’s for copious amounts of eggnog and other provisions, before getting on the (hopefully nearly empty) train back to my apartment. I’ll put on my pjs, queue up A Muppet Christmas Carol (the first of many cinematic Christmas classics to come, including all of those by Rankin and Bass — The Year Without a Santa Claus is my jam), and settle in for a long winter’s nap.
Sometimes the holidays are the time to be around your friends and family, and with the extended season, I still get that. My mom and grandmother arrive from our old Kentucky home this afternoon, and I’ll see many friends before they scatter to their various homes/homes away from home. So I don’t think I’m going to regret my solitary Christmas. This year, me, myself, and I will do it up like a real New York Jew should — with Netflix and Chinese food.