Stepping Out of Character: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I am about to prepare a Christmas Eve dinner for five. What is wrong with this picture?


    As you will recall, last week I explicitly stated that “the holidays come and go with hardly any notice. Perhaps my protective isolation is an unhealthy escape, but I’m looking at it as a very healthy adaptation. Trust me, I am in no hurry to revisit my ghosts of Christmas’ past.”


    Famous last words.


    Five or six days ago, I just happened to pick up a spiral ham in Trader Joe's. Who knows? If my brother didn’t have something better to do, maybe he could come over and we could watch a football game or something. Oops! I don’t have a TV - scratch the football game.

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    One thing led to another. I had the ham. My brother was dropping by. Maybe a couple I get on very well with might be interested in joining us. Turns out they were available Christmas Eve. So - while I was at it - why not add one more? 


    Next thing, I was back at Trader Joe's picking up all the rest of the stuff for a proper celebration. No quick slap-together meal for me. A full range of appetizers and side dishes and beverages. Conveniently, Men’s Wearhouse was in the same shopping center, so I picked out a suit for a New Year’s Eve function that I had only just decided on attending, but that’s another story. I always stay in on New Year’s Eve. Always - always, always. No exceptions. Seriously, what is wrong with this picture?


    Then, yesterday, a quick run to the Dollar Store. A few extra drinking glasses and serving dishes and stuff, plus some holiday napkins, and - why not? - a couple of Christmas decorations.


    So, last night I began preparing, clearing this area for food prep, that area for serving, and so on. Plus I threw together a lentil-cranberry-walnut salad and an applesauce with strawberries. My main project today is the scalloped potatoes - peel, slice, coat in a heavy cream sauce with parm and ground nutmeg and find a space in the oven not already occupied by the ham and the sweet potatoes. The asparagus I can do on top of the stove.


    I will also organize my appetizers - smoked salmon, gourmet cheeses, sliced peasant bread, and so on. Trust me, when my guests show up they will think Martha Stewart paid a midnight visit.


    Of all things, since I am so well-organized and I know what I’m doing and I love to cook for others, anyway, today will be a snap. No drama. I don’t even have to make a big deal of cleaning the house - I happen to be the lucky beneficiary of a massive one-month totally-out-of-character home-and-business reclamation project that means guests don’t have to move things out of the way in order to sit down or walk around.


    I don’t even have to vacuum the place. 


    So - I will be with great people. We will have a great time. I will thoroughly enjoy myself. I’m sure there’s a question in this, and maybe I already answered it. Recall - at the beginning of this piece, I asked “What is wrong with this picture?”


    It turns out that I did all the initiating. The organizing. The going through all the trouble. Like a lot of you, I am an introvert and something of a social recluse, and I have written extensively on this. There is enormous benefit in being true to ourselves, but every once in awhile it pays to step out of character, even to the point of being the social initiator. So - question:


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    When was the last time you stepped out of character? What was the result?


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    To my community here at HealthCentral. Tis the season - a time to think of each other. Peace on earth, good will to all ... 

Published On: December 24, 2011