Thanksgiving weekend. Every year, my DH and I go into the Big City to the Christkindlmarket and brave the crowds. Like last year, the weekend brought warmer than normal temperatures - a couple of moderate days sandwiched between bitter cold. Perfect weather to walk in the city... with a million of our closest friends.
The Christmas market is confined to a city block, a plaza. There are dozens of booths with ethnic gifts and holiday food offerings. I like to go for the warm, spiced Gluhwein or a cup of hot chocolate, and a piece of strudel. On those years where we don't have to elbow our way through the crowd, I like looking at the hand-made ornaments and cuckoo clocks and this year I even thought about buying a handmade hat. I have embroidered table runners and doilies that I've purchased in the past. This year, with the weather being favorable, we spent two hours trying to buy one cup of cider and the strudel. We couldn't get close to the vendor stands.
There are some days I actually worry about becoming agoraphobic, but statistically speaking, I should be past the point where it becomes an issue. The trip, while worth making, was more stressful than heartwarming. When the weather is colder, the plaza is warm because of all the warm bodies crunched together. My favorite time to visit the market is when it is snowing. People aren't so anxious to be out in the snow - but I am, especially because they aren't.
I'm the sort of person who blends into the background more often than not. I'm more comfortable there. The more people in the room, the further into the corner I go. Or into another room. The exception is when I have time to prepare myself mentally.
There's an old German adage: Children should be seen and not heard. The problem with that adage is that those children become adults who don't know how to be heard. As I get older, I have outgrown some of the shyness and I have learned that I have something to share. Thanks to some good friends, I have found my voice in group settings. Am I still uncomfortable? Yeah, you betcha! But I no longer shrink from my turn to speak, either professionally or personally. And I don't avoid going out into a plaza packed with people, because I'd rather have the experience than deprive myself of the yummy strudel I can only get this time of year and the way the Gluhwein warms you from the inside out.