Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Annual Polar Express...

We're splitting Christmas this year - most of December here, then heading up to Idaho a few days before actual Christmas day. When we started making plans for how to celebrate together this year, our daughter-in-law asked if we could do a homemade Polar Express. Daniel and JaeBeth are 3 1/2 and almost 5, so we skipped the version that involves paying to ride a train, long lines, etc. That might be a possibility later down the road, when they can give us more notice that they need to go potty. For the next few years, homemade and simple seemed a good choice.

First step for me was to buy some new Christmasy pajamas, versus the ratty leggings and t-shirt I usually sleep in. Thank you Ross.

We started the evening with our new traditional meal, frito pie. I made the chili too spicy so the kids ended up eating more fritos than chili, but whatever. Then I donned my elf hat, and we headed out in our 'reindeer sleigh', to drive across town and change into pajamas.

The kids loved riding in a car with antlers (picked them up at Party City for $14.99). 

When we got to the kids' house, and they were inside changing into pjs, Papa donned a blue jacket, a polar express conductor hat (antique store and cricut machine) and a mustache (Party City), and started hollering 'all aboard' at their front door. At 3 1/2 and almost 5, they didn't even recognize him at first! He started punching their tickets (Pinterest) with a hole punch, and warning them they had to hang onto the ticket since it was a round trip. 

Once they recognized him, and Daniel started hollering 'It's Papa!' they were much more willing to give him their ticket and proceed. 

We rode through town, listening to Christmas music, eating Krispy Kreme Donuts, drinking cocoa in sippy cups and checking out the lights of several townspeople who are known for going overboard. It was such fun to see Christmas displays through the eyes of a child - they definitely think more is better. 

Afterwards we rode home, opened Christmas gifts with them and ate brownies and ice cream in front of a fire. Papa got huge points for the Barbie he'd chosen for Jae Beth, and Daniel was crazy about his Dinomeal game. 

So about three hours after we started, they loaded up into their car to head home to bed, a little zingy, a little sugared up, but happy. And that was the point. 

It's not going to be too many years til they're telling their friends they have to spend the evening with their ancient grandparents, and all they'll be hoping for is money to take to the mall. But for right now, while they're little, it's sooooooooooo fun, such a gift, to just let them be little and share in the magic with them. I grew up in a family that had very little tradition, and Cub Sweetheart's wasn't big on celebration of any sort, so it fills a hole for me to make sweet family traditions, and celebrate life every chance we get. I'm blessed that our daughter-in-law feels the same way. 

And I highly recommend the reindeer kit for the car - with all that crazy traffic and grouchy, stressed people out there, a little reason to make others smile is a good thing. 

So maybe there's something you can start as a tradition for your family? Going to the nursing home to visit the elderly? Donating food to the food bank? Volunteering somewhere together? A ride around town to see the lights, then coming back home to cocoa and cookies? An entire day spent in pajamas watching old Christmas movies? Inviting a neighbor you don't know over for coffee, tea or wine? How about lunch with girlfriends and no exchanging gifts allowed? How about a get-together for all the tired mamas to get their presents wrapped? A day spent phoning old friends to catch up with each other? The possibilities are endless, many don't cost much or anything, and can be done with little fuss. 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Spending time with the guest of honor.....

It's the week before the week of Christmas. I'm in that mode of 'all things Christmas', sewing and cooking and wrapping gifts and shipping packages, writing Christmas cards, making catch-up phone calls. Doing this, I've learned, tends to put me in a weird stage come January 1. That stage of being so used to being busy all the time that I forget what real life feels like.

Can anyone relate?

Is there anyone else out there who has hopes of hand-writing a personal note in every single card, being calm in traffic, choosing thoughtful gifts for everyone on the list, rather than grabbing stuff at random off the tables at Kohls and TJ Maxx? Deciding whether you really want to put out all those decorations just because you have them? Not going to the cookie exchange?

Yeah, me too.

So this morning we got up, after not enough sleep, to get ready for church. Stumbled out to the coffee pot, hit the switch, let the dog out, grabbed the paper, and sat down on the couch for a bit of devotions before jumping back on the hamster wheel of it all. And I decided to just say 'no' for one day, even to church. To stay home in my pajamas, drink coffee, make homemade donuts, and not hurry anywhere.

And then I read this:
"Rest in me, my child, forgetting about the worries of the world. Focus on me - Immanuel (isn't that the name given for Jesus at his birth?) - and let my living presence envelop you in peace. ..... If you live on the surface of life by focusing on ever-changing phenomena, you will find yourself echoing the words of Solomon: "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" *
Then we stayed home. Cub Sweetheart might have mentioned that it would have been helpful for me to feel this way before we went to sleep last night; we could have slept in rather than getting up with not enough sleep, but alas I don't have it that together right now.

So for one day, just one day in the middle of all the stuff of December and Christmas, I chose to wear pajamas, graduating to yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt, eating warmed up macaroni and cheese, sitting on the sofa to read a book for a solid hour, and putting on a pot of soup for supper later this evening.

So what can you say no to? Cross off the list? Not do? Where can you not go? And what can you do instead?

I don't want to feel like Solomon, having it all and feeling like none of it means much; to wake up January 1 feeling like I'm hung over on Christmas stuff. Maybe, just maybe, less is more. Is there anyone else out there who thinks maybe Jesus never intended us to spend an entire month getting ready for a birthday party, but being too busy to take time with the guest of honor.


* Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hump Day Happiness - Memories of Christmas magic....

For your December enjoyment - our Texas grandkids' annual visit to Santa. Our granddaughter, who will be five on Christmas day, is quiet and shy. She hates being in the spotlight, and it takes her awhile to warm up to people. She likes the idea of Santa, but up close and personal is too much for her. I'm thinking he understands :-)

We call our 3 1/2 year old grandson 'party in a body'. He loves everyone he meets, but tends to take cues from his older sister. If she's scared, he's scared. If she wants a pink popsicle he does too. This year he somehow overcame her hesitation and enjoyed his Santa visit more than years past. I can totally see him, someday, dressing up for his own kids' Christmases.

Each week I ask them what they want for Christmas. So far the list includes a bunny, many things 'Frozen', a baby that wets, dinosaurs and a harmonica for him. I advised that the bunny may not be a big possibility because Santa somehow knows not to bring things parents don't approve of. Generally anything alive falls in that category.

Their visit to see the big guy made me think back to my own childhood.  I don't remember ever actually going to see Santa anywhere. There weren't malls back then, so maybe Santa wasn't available? I think we mailed him letters. I do remember family rides in the car, all six kids in tow, as we drove through downtown Beaumont, Texas. Bright red and green lights swung between streetlights. The downtown stores had corner windows filled with big, beautiful displays that moved and played music, pure magic to me. All that artificial snow looked convincing to a little girl who had never seen the real thing.

In the evenings, after it was dark, the six of us walked down the streets of our neighborhood, singing carols at neighbors' doors, and they'd reward us with hot cocoa and treats. Imagine that today! Going into the houses of neighbors, and eating and drinking what was offered to you - how our times have changed, and not for the good.

We never had a fireplace. It wouldn't have been very necessary in southeast Texas, and we didn't have real stockings either. Instead, we took my father's socks and hung them somewhere. After Christmas they were inches longer, from having an orange nestled down in the toe overnight.

I remember the year I asked for a Thumbelina doll, and got her. Oh how I loved her. I remember brothers with hair sticking up on Christmas morning, and everyone in pajamas that did not match, and scrawny trees decorated with strings of popcorn and boxes and boxes of icicles that fell all in clumps, and mama left them that way. I remember getting up way too early and being sent back to bed, and the laying there staring at the ceiling, waiting for time to pass.

I remember the white tissue paper and red squiggle ribbon wound around the packages. In later years I would recognize it as my mother's signature. And there was Daddy always, always sitting in the living room in his post office uniform, so he could go back to work on Christmas afternoon, delivering 'specials' to pay for our presents. I still remember to this day the year I gave him an ash tray, even though he didn't smoke. I wonder if he remembers that?

When I was about eight or nine our parents' friends, John and Claire, who were from Massachusettes and had a funny way of talking, showed up for a 'surprise visit' on Christmas Eve.  While Daddy and Mama were busy visiting, my older brother took me out to the driveway, showed me the blanket-covered pile in the back seat of their locked car, and told me the truth. The magic of that night died for me, only hours before bed. For all the debate on 'yes' to Santa or 'no' to Santa, I still love knowing that young children, for a handful of years, go to bed on Christmas Eve and try hard to go to sleep so Santa can come. The angst of that night, the belief in the magic of it all, is something dear to my heart still.

Fifty years after that night, there's sweetness in knowing the struggle my parents must have had, to put any presents under that pitiful tree. To buy fresh oranges and candy canes for each of us, to come up with a Thumbelina doll, a BB gun, a record player for my big sister. That's the real gift - looking back and knowing who was really giving, and how much it cost them to try to live up to the magic of Christmas morning.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jesus, Santa and Shih Tzu's....

Friday is my day to shuttle the grandkids to and from their preschool. Yesterday afternoon the three of us were walking down the emptied-out hallway, almost-five Jae Beth and three-and-a-half  Daniel (who we lovingly call "party in a body"). I saw standing there all alone, in that emptied out hallway, a simple manger with a naked baby doll wrapped in white cloth, laying on fake straw. Or maybe the straw was real, I didn't check.

I asked Jae Beth,  'what is that?'

She said, "that's baby Jesus. It's for his 'birfthday'."

I don't know how much theology she has, but she has that much. She knows Christmas is his 'birfthday', because it's hers too. She'll be five this Christmas, and our family always tells her she has the best birthday of anyone. She gets to share Jesus' birthday with him. It's the most special day of the whole year. Double presents day!

We climbed into the car, and I started driving down the street. We talked about Jesus for awhile, his birthday, Christmas, etc. I asked if she'd written her letter to Santa yet, and did she think she was going to go see him, to deliver it in person. She understands that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and because of that Santa brings us presents to celebrate.

She looked down and answered soft, "I haven't decided." This little one likes the idea of Santa, but when she sees him in person she's T.E.R.R.I.F.I.E.D. Last year, when her parents took her to see him, she bolted, and anyone within yelling distance could hear, "We have a runner!"

As we talked about Santa I glanced back to see the look on her face - the unsureness, the wanting but not sure she could do it. Sweetness.

Then, in the middle of this conversation she changes directions and says, "Grammy, did you get a new haircut?"

I am surprised she noticed; in fact I did get new bangs cut. I ask what she thinks about bangs.

She says, "Well, I think you look a lot like Miss Lily (our Shih Tzu). You both have grey and white and fluffy hair."

Indeed, she has a point. I'm thankful she didn't say we both had a pronounced overbite.

I came home, thinking I'll be asking Cub Sweetheart to make us a manger, and I'll go to the toy cupboard and find a naked baby and some white cloth for our front yard. Feeling blessed to be at a season in life where we have in our midst little people, who sometimes remind us to see life through the eyes of a child. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hump Day Happiness 12-3-14

Half-way through the week, that's worth celebrating! Here are a few miscellaneous happys for you:

If you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge, you can throw them out. You should throw them out. We made it three days before we caved and bought a frozen pizza. Is my Cub Sweetheart the only man who believes leftovers expire only after you've finished eating them all? Perhaps I need to make him gravy more than twice a year. Anyway, a fridge with some empty shelves feels nice.

I finished reading 'And the Mountains Echoed' last week, by the same guy who wrote Kite Runner. It was good writing, but not terribly cheerful and a bit confusing. Maybe holidays aren't the best time to read books that switch back and forth between the present and fifty years earlier, because my attention span might not be completely at its best. I also read, and ended up partially skimming "If I Stay", the book coming out as a movie any day. Less than stellar writing, didn't love it, but perhaps the movie will be better?

I'm now reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Other, earlier versions have been made into a movie. I so hope this one will be. I was hooked within a few pages, and wish I could curl up somewhere and read it slowly, savoring every word, to the last page. Absolutely engrossing so far! I've also recently started listening to National Public Radio, or NPR as the rest of the world calls it. I heard an interview last night by the author, Akhil Sharma about his book, 'Family Life', a fiction story based on his real life. and it's on request at my library. It was just named to the 100 Notable books of 2014, so I'm looking forward to that. It sounds thought provoking. I've also got "All The Light We Cannot See", from that same list, waiting on my nightstand.

Like losing ten pounds, or mop every Monday, reading through the Bible in a year is often on my resolution list. I've made it through several times, but not in the recent past. So I attempted it again this year. I'm behind, but making progress. The plan I'm using gives you all of December to read through Proverbs, but I already did that back in the summer, so I'm using this month for catch up. And the guide (click here to download a PDF) is cute as all get out.  I printed mine out on card stock, folded it in half and stuck it in the front of my Bible. I plan to shoot for it again in 2015, because I always get so much new out of it every time I do.

For ladies only, did anyone else know that mammograms can be done in 3D now? I've had one every single year except one for the past twenty, and this year they asked me if I wanted 3D. It was an extra $75 that insurance didn't pay, but they covered the rest, and they told me it helps prevent false positives and also helps with detection, up to 40% improvement over the standard method, so I thought it a fantastic way to spend $75. The pinching, smushing stuff felt exactly the same - a small price to pay for preventative health care. I asked the technician, and she told me, yes, 40 is still the year to begin getting them, and every single year after that. As a thought, if you are a man reading this, tell your wife, tell your mother, tell your daughter. Spread the word!

I cooked homemade donuts yesterday with our two grandkids. You can buy donut pans, made by Wilton, at Amazon (click here). (I bought mine at Michaels for slightly more with a coupon which made it even-steven) and use this recipe from Barefoot Contessa (click here) to make the cinnamon sugar donuts. They're quick, easy and yummy, even when you let a three and four year old do all the measuring, try to make them gluten-free and overfill the pan. Even then!

Lastly, if you have an extra thirty minutes this week, or maybe even more so if you don't, give yourself a treat and spend some time at this blog: Pozy Gets Cozy (she's on my sidebar too). Her blog is beautiful, featuring quilts and food and nature and the most beautiful chubby-cheeked little girl. It'll feel like a vacation if you pour a cup of tea and browse through a few of her posts.

On a funny-not-so-funny note, our 8 lb Shih Tzu has wreaked havoc on our brand new electric blanket. The last one we bought was in 1990 and I finally forked over the money for a new one, one month ago. Lily has a thing for plastic, and has, twice this week, chewed through the wires. So we're thinking we'd prefer not to have our bed catch on fire and unplugged the controls. Tiny teeth, but apparently still mighty teeth... there you go!

Well that's it for me - I'm busy, busy up in my sewing room making all sorts of Christmas presents, the house is looking more Bah Humbug than Father Christmas right now, and of course there are always books calling my name. Hoping you'll remember to take a few  minutes, every single day of this wonderful holiday season, to remember what Who it's all about.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Mrs. Noah deserves more credit

A few years ago my grandson gave me a little plastic figurine of a woman. I named her Mrs. Noah. She's wearing a dress of sorts, her head is covered and she's holding a handful of wheat stalks.

Mrs. Noah lives in my bathroom, on the shelf above the soaking tub. I keep her out as a visual reminder to be patient, long-suffering, non-nagging, and all those other great qualities that don't always come easy. I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I tell myself lies - that I have the fullest plate, the hardest row to hoe, the tightest budget, most difficult relatives, and lowest metabolism. I can hold one heck of a pity party....

Scripture doesn't have much to say about Mrs. Noah, not even her first name. Here's what it says in Genesis 7:13:
On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons' three wives.
That's not a lot to go on, especially if you want to compare her to the Proverbs 31 woman. Or Sarah, or Esther, or Ruth or so many others. But based on her life as Mrs. Noah here's the way I see her:

She didn't have any daughters of her own, only three boys, who grew up and married. She was married to a man who spent umpteen years building a boat as big as any current-day coliseum, in the middle of the desert, when nobody had yet seen rain. I wonder if that's how Mrs. Edison or Mrs. Einstein or Mrs. Franklin felt. 'Lady, your husband is crazy! I have to assume people didn't know what an ark was before Noah built it. I'm assuming building the ark took up most of Noah's time, and probably there was fall-out on Mrs. Noah too. Even if it was reheating his dinner at night, trying to get black tar out of his robes, feeding and putting up the animals because he wasn't home on time, her job likely got tougher when he started building that boat. A season when your husband works all the time is tough. I remember the winters in North Dakota, with two kids in diapers and Cub Sweetheart worked all the time. We talked in the context of cross-sections, how many cross-sections did he have left to do before he could come home. Husbands working long hours is hard to weather, and when it's fifty below zero it's even harder. Likely being in the middle of the desert building a boat wasn't a lot of fun either.

She didn't have any good girlfriends, at least not any iron-sharpens-iron girlfriends because no one but her own family made it into the ark. I think she might have been a bit lonely at times. I'm remembering back to our move to Illinois, to a college town. Cub Sweetheart worked for 63 days straight, and the neighbors didn't even believe he existed. That was the move where I started crying when the Welcome Wagon lady rang the doorbell. And yes, it was awkward. Lonely is hard.

She had three daughter-in-laws, and lived close to them, likely within the same house or at least within shouting distance of each other. She must have been gracious and loving or those men would have been looking for a way off that boat. I'm thankful to say I have one precious daughter-in-law and we dearly love each other. But we've never been stuck on a boat full of men and smelly animals for months on end either.

God didn't tell her to build the ark, he didn't talk to her, but rather to her husband. And he only told Noah, he didn't write it down like the ten commandments, so she had to trust her husband when he came home and gave her the plan second-hand. She trusted him, in spite of any proof he knew what he was doing. She was submissive before they came up with the word. Thirty-four years into marriage submission doesn't come easy to me. I'm still a work in progress. I want evidence, I want to see the plan, to understand the plan, discuss the plan. Mrs. Noah obviously followed Noah based on a conversation she wasn't privy to.

She had to be on board, literally, with picking up everything they owned, hauling it onto this huge boat, and setting up a household. Everything she would need to care for her family had to be there, ready to go, because there wasn't going to be any running back for something she forgot. She was obviously organized and a hard worker. We've moved across the country more than once, and when we reached the next home I've stood and cried at the sight of all those boxes needing unpacked. I imagine Mrs. Noah had to leave behind much that she cherished, and we all know she had to make do with pretty primitive surroundings. I can complain over a closet that's too small, or other small inconvenience.

She was married to Noah 100 years when her family loaded into the boat, and the water started seeping up around them. 100 years is a long time, probably long enough to work out all the kinks of a marriage so that they worked well as a team. That's a good thing because,

they had to live with all these animals, and no matter how many levels there were, they don't mention a lot of windows. I imagine how it smelled, the musty, dirty hay, manure everywhere. How noisy it must have been as animals agitated each other, or were scared and stressed. How altogether icky, slimy, slithery it must have been with all those reptiles around. I'm completely wigged out over one lizard ten feet away.

And the laundry. How did she do the laundry?

If she baked bread, what did it smell like? What did they all smell like? Yankee candles and Scentsy don't date back that far.

After how many days, everyone stuck inside that ark together, thrashing around (and I can only hope that none of them, or the animals, had a problem with motion sickness, but likely some did), don't you know they had to be on each other's last nerve?

I remember last Thanksgiving. We had my mother, a pregnant daughter and her son, our son and his young family and her family, all in all a very full house. It was fun but loud and crazy and a bit overwhelming at times for all of us.

Then someone threw up, and we all hoped it was a fluke. And it wasn't. So soon several of us were throwing up, and the ones who weren't were still interested in Thanksgiving leftovers and football games and such, and at the end of several days of that I felt like I'd been hit by a mac truck. And I may have been unusually grouchy, snappy, short-temperedish.

Genesis 8:1 says after forty days of rain, which in itself would make me twitch like nobody's business, and 150 days of the earth being covered with water, God remembered Noah. I don't imagine God had really forgotten them, but I can imagine that they felt like he had, at least maybe. I can relate to that too. Sometimes I feel like an awfully small speck down here, slugging it out and wondering if there's a plan. But God remembered, and it says the first thing he did was to cause a wind to pass over the earth. I assume that was to start drying up all that water, but I bet it didn't hurt to get some fresh air going on either. Like it felt when most of our family had been down with the stomach virus for a few days. That feeling of wanting to wipe the whole house down with Lysol, everyone take a shower, change the sheets, and open the windows. But Mrs. Noah didn't have any Lysol, or that nice basil counter spray from Target either.

As soon as I was over that stomach bug I cleaned myself up, got in my car, and drove to the nearest coffee shop, where I just sat for awhile. Even after it stopped raining, Mrs. Noah still couldn't get off that boat. Eventually, and I didn't add up all the days, they let a dove out and it came back to them, showing them there wasn't anywhere dry for it to land. I don't know what she said, but I know what I might have said, and what I surely would have thought.

Eventually, and don't you know it must have felt like forever, everything dried up, and God told them to leave the ark, along with all the animals and every slimy, creepy, slithery reptile aboard. I imagine what that must have felt like, to walk off that boat, and hit dry ground. Maybe a little like those cruises where lots of people get the flu, and they're in the middle of the ocean, stuck in little rooms with bathrooms the size of a college-dorm closet. Then the ship finally docks and they get to get off that ship they couldn't wait to climb aboard only days before.

So move over Proverbs 31 woman, make room for Mrs. Noah. She's earned it then some, and I'm blessed to think about her,  now and then, when I get out of kilter and think I've got anything to complain about.

If you'd like another look at Mrs. Noah, the fabulous 'helpmeet' example she is to women today, you can go HERE. 


Friday, November 28, 2014

Quiet after the storm.....

We started Thanksgiving Day with a slip of a little grey puppy dragging herself out from under the covers, to watch the Macy's parade with us. I don't actually watch the entire parade; rather, I like the background noise of it, the staying-in-pajamas-lazy-on-the-sofa-til-it's-completely-over of it. I don't  love all the singers lip-synching songs I've never heard. I do love, love seeing the Rockettes, with their high-kicking, synchronized legs, and all the red-nosed people bundled up, kids on their dads' shoulders, watching. I love seeing life celebrated through my television screen, but being there in the middle of it all sounds like too much.

After the parade, and of course we joined the other 20 million people who watched the bloodhound win Best of Show, then we stuffed the turkey and got it in the oven. Most of the big work was done the day before - side dishes, pies and table settings. I don't want anything about this day to be hurried or full. 

Late afternoon we poured a glass of wine, and wandered out to the patio by the pool. One last hour of quiet conversation before the festivities would swing into high gear. 

As we walked in the back door they were walking in the front. High voices and squeals from grandkids as they spied Lily; family and friends and a stranger thrown in for good measure. Hugs were given, dishes offered up, jackets taken, and the kitchen was full to the brim in one fell swoop. 

And I loved it. All of it. 

We gathered around the table, held hands and Cub Sweetheart prayed for us, put words to the thoughts of Thanksgiving we all had in our hearts, and for one minute there was only the sound of his voice, soft and slow as he spoke what was on his heart, this man of few words.

Then it was a rush for food, grabbing plates and filling them, talking over each other, laughter and squeals and on it went in a wonderful, wonderful way. For two solid hours the table was more than full of people and conversation and family stories that have been shared before, and will be again, because there's richness in the hearing.

I watched a few around our table. As the conversation grew livelier, four of the ten adults slid into an observer's role. They listened, and said very little. They were engaged but quiet. Resting in the midst of it all.

When it was all said and done, the little ones had had all they could take, having eaten nothing and shedding half their clothes as little ones tend to do, because pants get in the way of eating and playing, don't you know?, then we all headed back to the kitchen. We cleaned up in frenzy, and I was oh so thankful for all the helping hands. Within minutes there was no sign Thanksgiving ever happened, except behind the doors of two refrigerators. 

Then they were all out the same door they came through only hours before, full and happy. Some were headed to a local theater to catch a late movie, some to go home and climb in bed as quick as they could, and some were off for all-night shopping, the thought of which horrified me. 

I had a conversation with Cub Sweetheart only a few days before about all the holiday hubbub. He told me about a talk he heard on public radio: Why the holidays are hard for introverts by Sophia Demling.  It's not an issue of shy or not, loud or quiet, it's what fills and drains the tank for each of us. 

I've realized over the years that our family of five has only one true, true extrovert  - our middle daughter. A couple more have married in, and a few have been produced through three marriages. I fall near the middle of the scale. How introverted or extroverted I am generally depends on the situation. I remember meeting girlfriends for coffee, having a wonderful time;  I loved being with them, but after I left there I tended to hole up alone for awhile. I don't think my more extroverted girlfriends ever understood this - a need to recharge after emptying out from being with people. I am generally NOT a quiet person, I love gathering and festivities and celebrating life, but afterwards I need books and quiet and soaks in the tub and a lot of alone time.  A few of my more extroverted friends leave planning the next get-together! Cub Sweetheart has a even smaller need than me to be with people to begin with, and when he does he's completely worn out afterwards. He's happy to do small talk with strangers, but if he has to hold up the bulk of conversation with people - even those he knows well - he's ready for some serious down time afterwards. I wish I'd understood this twenty years ago. He does too.

I recently had someone mention a book to me, 'Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking', by Susan Cain. This next year I'm going to read it. I'm thinking I'll start it on January 1, my all-time, hands-down favorite day of the year. The holidays are over, the cooking is all done and leftovers abound in the fridge, there's nothing that needs decorating, everyone has headed home, and the only sound in the house is the background noise of a parade. I do love, love seeing the floats decorated with flowers, all the kids on their dads' shoulders, watching. I love seeing life celebrated, but I wouldn't actually enjoy being there in the middle of it all. I'd much rather be home, on my sofa in pajamas with our slip of a little grey puppy beside me.

Thoughts? Are you an extrovert, or introvert, or somewhere in between? If you're more on the introverted side, how do you cope with the craziness that runs from mid-November thru the end of the year? If you're not sure which you are, you can go HERE to take a test, given by the author of the book 'Quiet....',  that might give you a better idea where you fall on the scale.