Saturday was our ward (congregation) Christmas party. I really enjoy ward parties (usually) because my kids get to socialize with their friends, I get to socialize with mine, there is usually some form of entertaining entertainment, and, overall? It is just a nice, free evening out.
So Saturday was our ward Christmas party. I believe I said that already? It started out just fine, with us getting there about 10 minutes late (which means about 15 minutes before everyone else (who wasn’t on the planning committee) showed up) (we have a term for it: Mormon Standard Time) (by “we” I mean “Mormons” not “Me and McH”), so I jumped in to help put food out on the serving tables and stuff like that.
It was all very typical Ward Christmas party: most families were so big they took up an entire table each (my family being no exception), so once the eating started the socializing took a break for a bit; socializing resumed as people table hopped after dutifully eating with their family (except for L~, who ditched us immediately and ate with friends); many children too young to be unsupervised were running around unsupervised, jumping off the stage, breaking ornaments on the Christmas tree, pulling down lights (why are unsupervised children such a huge part of our religious subculture? It drives me insane) (especially since we stupidly picked a table right by the stage, which meant we dined to the dulcet sounds of chaos); and an expected time was had by all.
Then the lady in charge of the whole thing got up on the little stage (oh, we don’t rate the big stage, just those riser thingies) and said for the entertainment portion of the evening they were going to call on ward members to share their talents. So I was thinking, “Sure, there are always people in every congregation who will volunteer to get up and sing in front of a crowd, maybe get us started singing some carols together. No biggie.”
But the lady went on to say, “Do you all know lots of Christmas carols? Do you know the words to lots of Christmas carols? Okay, remember the numbers on your centerpieces? We are going to pick numbers out of a bowl, and when we call your number, your entire table has to come up on stage and one of you will pick a slip of paper out of another bowl, and there will be the title of a Christmas carol on it and . . .”
And I grabbed my purse and coat and started looking around for my older children who had wandered off with friends. My husband wanted to know what I was doing.
Hello????? LEAVING. It is not obvious?
He leaned across the table and said, “It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. We can do this.”
Huh??? I wanted to ask him when he, Mr. Social Anxiety himself, became Captain Von Freaking Trapp.
Here is the thing: It’s not that I hate singing. It’s just that I hate singing in front of people. Unless I am part of a much, much larger group which will drown out any sound I make. My husband and children do not constitute such a group. And? Actually? Had they assigned each family a Christmas carol ahead of time so that we could practice (and practice, and practice) and I could get myself mentally ready for such a thing? I could probably do it.
But to stand up there and just announce that I, along with my family, will be randomly called up to the stage to select a carol . . . it was an introvert’s nightmare.
As it turned out, we didn’t have to sing. Oh, no. It wasn’t that bad. Just almost.
No, it turned out to be a game of Christmas carol charades which required that you used the provided props. You know, a toilet plunger, a colander, a funnel, a really bad wig, and a whitish trash bag.
It’s not that I don’t like having fun. It’s not that I am not a happy person. It’s just that I am not a “happy-fun!” person. “Happy-fun!”, by the way, is an adjective coined by my best friend and I when we were at BYU and doing the week-long training to be Y Group leaders (upperclassmen who help a group of brand-new freshmen get acclimated to campus life). Utah is full of “happy-fun!” people; and, while it can be a good quality to have (sometimes) it frequently doesn’t seemed to be based much in reality (it’s like they are choosing to act drunk rather than actually being drunk) and is mortifying to the introverts who get sucked into others’ “happy-fun!” black hole.
Which brings me back to Saturday night. Playing with a toilet plunger and a bad wig on a stage sounds very much to me like a drunk (and potentially pornographic) thing to do. But we survived it. It took a little doing, but audience members figured out our song and then we went back to our table to watch the next victims.
Captain Von Trapp once again leaned across the table and said, “Are you okay? You look really uncomfortable . . . mad. Or something.”
“It’s called flight or fight,” I explained. “I tried to flee, and since you wouldn’t go along with that plan the fight response kicked in. So now I guess I’m angry.”
And I was dead serious. I wasn’t mad at him. I wasn’t even mad at the woman running the show. I was just mad. Even though it turned out that I didn’t have to sing, my fight or flight had already kicked in and I was mad at the universe for ever creating “happy-fun!” people; and mad that the universe forgot to install some type of sensitivity meter into said “happy-fun!” people that would prevent them from causing undo panic among introverts.
I do not begrudge “happy-fun!” people their happy-funness. I just wish they’d leave me out of it. Or at least give me a week’s warning. Or something.
The fact that I can even go to a Christmas party and socialize with people I’ve only known for about six months and enjoy it without later obsessing over every word I uttered for fear I offended someone is already huge for me. HUGE.
Incidentally, I had a rather lengthy birth control discussion with one of the ladies who, like me, doesn’t want to use chemical contraceptives or have her or her husband get surgically “fixed”, but, also like me, loathes buying condoms with a passel of kids loudly wondering, “What’s that mom? What did you just throw in the cart?” So I clued her in to drugstore.com, where you can get such things at good prices and in bulk quantities so large that they even send you a fishbowl with your order. Oh, I am. not. kidding.
See???? HUGE progress for this introvert.
So, in the future, if anybody wants my “talents” to be part of the Christmas party entertainment? Please give me advanced notice and don’t ask me to touch somebody else’s toilet plunger, okay? O.K! And if you truly are interested in my talents rather than cheap entertainment at the expense of my fragile, introverted dignity? Here you go:
Ask me to write a script for something;
Ask me to twirl a fire baton or some big ‘ol knives (no comments about my dignity, please);
Ask me WELL IN ADVANCE to sing WITH A GROUP;
Ask me to make a wedding cake (though I don’t know why you’d need that at a Christmas party);
Ask me to make fudge.
There you go. I think that’s about it.
Tewt the Newt is off to deal with some residual PTSD.
In all honestly, it was a nice Christmas party. The people who organized it and pulled it all together did a good job and should be commended for their efforts (if not for their ability to induce panic).