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Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Holidays For Introverts And The Generally Cranky

Everyone knows at least one person who gets cranky about holidays. Chances are it's more than one. I think it's common enough that if it's not quite normal, at least it's widely tolerated. While I doubt everyone who doesn't like the holidays qualifies as an introvert, maybe a good number of such people are on that end of the spectrum.

In my case, I'll go with that. But this isn't a post about shopworn anti-holiday sentiments. As an often-introverted personality type, of course Christmas was never something I could get excited about. Too much noise, too many lights, too much of everything. However, in the last while I've found myself giving in to the sentimentality, as if the heel of Santa's fur-trimmed Hessian boot were at my throat, with a mere shift of the obese man's bodyweight the only thing standing between life and death.

This year especially, people seem to be tired of Christmas music in stores. Being that I've worked in such stores, I've basically experienced a lifetime of normal exposure to this hazardous radiation before the age of thirty. But then something happened.

A good friend of mine is a vocalist and just felt like singing at work over the holidays. And since apparently everyone else was cool with the idea, the two of us ended up performing. Before this, keep in mind that the only music I played on the guitar was a little bit of jazz and a lot of death metal. So I had to learn how the play some of the very songs that had been my torment for basically all of history. And get over the stage fright that had stopped me from getting anywhere with being in a band. I accomplished both of these and also learned that sometimes playing music that's so ubiquitous and part of tradition isn't as easy to do well as I'd assumed, in my arrogant prog-metal Ibanez RG-playing ignorance.

The challenge of it changed the game for me. But only initially. After a few performances, I stopped being so concerned about myself and paid a bit of attention to the "audience," which was, most of the time, perhaps two people. Even though these people had heard the same songs as muzak everywhere else, when they saw two kind-of-shy store employees inexplicably playing Christmas songs in a corner, some of them seemed to genuinely enjoy it, if only for a few seconds. The single encore request we got was even more thrilling.

That was last year. This year was when the epiphany really struck. When those songs came back on the radio, instead of hating them I couldn't help but feel sentimental about it. I missed playing those songs with my friend, and hearing them over and over for a month is all I really have of that now.

So I'm not sure if it's just that I'm the type of introvert who is difficult to get close enough to for such moments to happen, or if it's just that the holidays just don't make as much sense to me outside of playing music and so on. But a large part of my holiday crankiness seems to have been permanently cured just from that experience.

This means there's hope for all the others who become stressed over holidays. The kind of peace a lot of introverts need to feel sane still exists during the holidays, but you just have to dig to find it.

And hey, if you comment on this post, you could win a copy of my dieselpunk fantasy novel, Blightcross. It's like steampunk, only better and with more explosions. Check it out and make sure to enter!

About the Author:
C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we're not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, doing deadlifts, and running obscene distances.


  1. Playing music over the holidays sounds like a perfect way to release that dreadful stress! Grouchy me? I never complain about anything! LOL (Glad my statements are true convictions of pure fiction!) but I do like the idea of dealing with it and getting through it! Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I think many get grouchy when it gets down to the wire. I try to pace everything. Music does soothe though.
    DEbby236 at gmail dot com

  3. Motoring whats your price for fun. In finding I'm the one! I plan on listening to you play Christmas music on one of your many guitars for the rest of my life.

  4. You still seem pretty cranky to me :p