- Carissa Woodwyk
"It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's the hap-happiest season of all."
We're about to make our grand entrance into the most wonderful time of the year...right? Family parties, work parties, school parties, social parties - they're starting to spread themselves across our calendars. Food and festivities and fun are awaiting us.
But what happens when you add the people? Parties with people? What starts stirring inside of you when you begin anticipating the people at the parties? How can it be that the people can make or break our holidays?
Let's review some of the lovely cast members...
The grump. The one that greets you with that smirk or look or signs of boredom or no looking at you at all. Their face, their attitude, silently shouts, "I don't wanna be here. I'm here only because I have to be." They're reading the newspaper, watching TV, positioned in isolation, tucked away by themselves. Yup, the one you totally don't want to be seated next to at the dinner table. You feel ignored.
The talker. The words and stories are shooting out of their mouth like a bubble machine, floating around in circles with no direction, no intent. They're really not interested in you or what's happening in your life, rather, they're eager for you to know, desperately know, that they are present and breathing and that there's an abundance of things happening in their life, their world. You feel unseen.
The clown. The one that's going to make everyone laugh, the center of attention. The one who wants to bring up the level of joy, all night. The one who enters conversations turning everything into something humorous and lighthearted, minimizing any sign of tension, shutting any deep feeling down. Their desire for harmony is well-intentioned, but they seem to miss any moment for connection and depth. You feel too much.
The social networker. The phone, the tablet, Facebook, Twitter, you name it...they drag the outside world into the room, into the space, already occupied with people, real people. They seemingly can't get enough of other people's lives, the outside news, the constant "noise." They seem distracted and unengaged. You feel lucky if you have more than a 5 minute continuous conversation with them. Keeping up with everything "outside" seems more important than building anything meaningful "inside" the room. You feel unimportant.
The critic. They've got something to say about everything. Their ideas, their opinions, their thoughts...they fill the space between you and them. No matter what you say, no matter how you say it, they will correct you, enlighten you, try to convince you that their truth should be your truth. You feel dumb.
The disaster. The drama seems to have followed them everywhere since you last talked with them. Something strange or chaotic or awful or hurtful has once again entered their life. Their stories are unending, filled with lingering, run on sentences. All you can do is listen with amazement. You feel boring.
The star. The report as you catch up is nothing but wonderful and perfect. Once again, they're doing everything right and good to further their life, their future, the world. They've got it all together and all you can do is stand in their shadow. You feel inferior.
The helper. The one who dutifully is making sure the party is running smoothly, paying attention to every detail, including that you just put your glass on the wrong surface. They're picking up after you, cleaning up your mess before it even becomes a mess. They're missing out on connecting with anyone because they're frantically making sure all the "work" is done before the relaxing can begin. You feel intimidated.
There are a lot of seemingly selfish people during the holidays.
There are a lot of people who present themselves in irritating and annoying
and unhelpful ways.
There are a lot of categories we could put them in.
There are a lot of people who want to be heard, be noticed, be liked, be
Just like you.
Just like me.
We're all looking for and hoping for and longing for the cheer and joy and love, aren't we?
So, what if this year, we focused on how we could share, dish out, the "wonderfulness" of this season on others instead of feeling entitled to experiencing it ourselves? Could we become selfish in a new way? Selfish by soaking in and digesting all that gets dished out to us?
Listening to him.
Paying attention to her.
So, that we can offer what they are looking for, hoping for, longing for.
So, that we can offer back to them exactly what their soul craves...
Maybe, just the chance to be human.
I'm convinced that this was one of the gifts of the baby in the manger...God entering humanity, giving us permission to embrace our humanity.
This year, what would it be like for you to enter into the humanity in the room? What if the "wonderful" and "happy" already exists? In him? In her?
Maybe our "wonderful" and "happy" comes when we find it in others.
Maybe you being you and allowing you to connect with them is just exactly what this most wonderful time of year is about.
Because seriously, what would a party be without the people?
Carissa Woodwyk is a writer, speaker, marriage and family therapist, advocate for the human heart. She is also the co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI. Be sure to follow Carissa's blog or catch up with her on facebook.