Mark Koning’s key to holiday happiness: the open house

BY: MARK KONING

So one of the things that I tend to shy away from most is the social scene – large crowds and too many people.

Mark Koning takes a selfie by his Christmas tree

I realize that in certain aspects of this life large crowds are unavoidable, such as being on a subway or bus. I can handle crowds, if I have to – I’m not agoraphobic – though interacting with oversized groups does get to me. When multiple bodies fill a room I tend to quiet down and try to blend into the background. I find it hard to keep up with conversations, and I tire out. I want to get away and be alone. It is all too my much for my injured brain to handle.

Or is it?

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone and crawled under a rock. I don’t turn tail every time I get a whiff of a big crowd. I like spending time with my friends, having small (SMALL) get-togethers and hanging out. But I also know that I am sometimes missing out.

Over time, I have learned to face the challenge of those aforementioned awkward moments by taking control. Which comes in handy during this festive time of year when gatherings become a regular thing, be they office parties, community parties, open houses etc. There is music and food and laughter, but there is also congestion, exhaustion, a little confusion and moments of uncertainty. When I take control everything changes, which is good because I like this time of year, I like the decorations and the holiday spirit.

So I do one of the things I do best, I organize. Along with my family, I plan a Christmas open house. I plan who to invite, I create the invitation, make lists, shop, clean and help prepare. When the guests arrive I play host, I welcome people at the door, I tend to coats and boots and I serve food or drinks. I may stop and chat with someone at some point, but then I move on to check on others. I have a purpose and a goal.

At the end of the night, when the party is over, I am still tired, but it’s a different kind of tired. There is no confusion or uncertainty, no feelings of having been overwhelmed. There are no moments of misdirection in my head. And the best part is I got to share in the Christmas joy with others. I survived the crowd with few problems. I get to not ‘miss out’ and instead feel like I am taking part of what life is meant to be – a celebration with others –  fun, joyous and festive!


Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back, has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing, for others as well as himself. His experience as a Survivor, Caregiver, Mentor and Writer, has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com.

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