Christmas Traditions

Posted: December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Usually when I write a blog it takes me awhile to actually write it. Sometimes I spend 2 days on it just going over this and that with the subject that I have decided to write about. But I’m doing something different this time. I’m just writing whatever the hell pops in my head and here it is…

Christmas traditions are no longer a Christmas tradition to us in the autism world. Agree?? Well maybe some of you have a high functioning kid that knows about Santa, stockings, Christmas cookies, gifts and the “elf on the shelf.” You are one of the lucky ones in the autism world…well at least to me.
Growing up my mom explained to me the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus and his birthday and celebrating him. But growing up…I always had a wonderful and fantastic Christmas. I was never disappointed on Christmas morning. We did all the “normal” traditions. Decorating the tree with my sisters. Baking cookies on Christmas Eve, setting out cookies and milk the night before Christmas. Waking up early on Christmas morning to open up presents. I love Christmas traditions, I love wrapping the gifts and I love Christmas, not just because the presents, but because the true meaning. Growing up my mom would always say “Christmas is for the kids.” What she meant was the presents part was for the kids. Us believing in Santa was for the kids and those traditions were for the kids.
So here I am…a mom and my traditions aren’t happening this year. We will put up a tree unlike last year, but we won’t decorate it, only lights and a star (unless I find the plastic ornaments). We most likely won’t set out milk and cookies..I mean why should we? We will just go to the kitchen later that night and eat them when we want to. We aren’t wrapping ANY of the Monsters gifts this year, he won’t open them and if he does open 1 he will be done after that 1 present and then Mike and I will open the rest and have to clean up a mess that had no purpose.
And then I hear parents talk about “elf on the shelf.” And how they get to move it every night after their little one goes to bed and the next day it’s in a different spot. Their child wakes up and looks for it the next morning. That seems like a fun thing to do. I’m jealous of the elf…I hate it because I am jealous of the damn elf!
So where does the autism world fall into all of this? It doesn’t. All it does is add stress to our kids. I remember the Monsters first speech therapist telling me how her son had to see a therapist during the holiday season because of the transition from having school to being out for two weeks. Then to all the things that is going on during that time. I couldn’t help but think that the holiday time is added pressure and stress to our kids. Not excitement. Am I going to be happy on Christmas morning? Yes I am. I am going to be excited for the Monster. The night before Mike and I will open up every gift and take it out of its box and place them all out in a nice neat pile. The next morning that is what he will see under the tree. We know he is special and can’t handle the unwrapping part and Santa knows too ;).

Some of this sounds ridiculous to me to think how upset I am over Christmas traditions, but I can’t help it. Then I think of what I was always told, “Christmas is for the kids.” So as long as he is happy, I should be happy too. I should appreciate the smallest things and stop being so selfish. The meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with any of this. And when you celebrate Christmas with all of these things I should remember it is about the kids and their happiness when they open presents, not mine. He doesn’t care if they are wrapped or not. The Monster doesn’t care if there is a million decorations on the tree or if it just has lights. He doesn’t care about the stupid elf on a shelf…at all. He doesn’t care about putting out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. He is going to be happy either way on Christmas morning and sees all the trucks and other toys. So why should I care? He is happy either way.

  1. Kat says:

    I think I am at the other end of this. I would “almost” be happy to be where you are. My son is HYPER fixated on Santa and asking for Star Wars toys to the point he is panicking. He doesn’t understand how to wait. He thinks it is Christmas now! (And then what do we do when Christmas is over and he is still fixated?)

    But you are right it is for the kids and it is awesome to watch them with their presents.
    Oh and btw I think the Elf on the Shelf is kinda creepy…

  2. Katie says:

    Be happy about he fing elf! I hate them, don’t wan them, have dodge it for years now and for some reason at my sons special school they have one in the class, ugh! He wants one so bad but he will cry and have major disappointment when it leaves, have anxiety that it will get him at night, he will have nightmares, we will have sleeping issues, and all the upset of Christmas will be increased even more. The changes of the child’s schedule over the holidays and the changes of the home and environment are hell on even an aspe! Believe me! It sucks, but an aspe even desires to see it and live it even though it sucks!

    Idea for your tree, a friend let her son decorate it with foam letter and numbers. Enjoy your son that is all we can do. Enjoy our kids and what they can take away from the holiday. 🙂

  3. spectrumom says:

    I think it’s another of those grief things. Those things that you always imagined doing with your kid. First day of school (not the same when your kid is 3 and just aged out of EI and into school and doesn’t talk.) Playing sports. First dance. First kiss (Will that ever happen?) And Christmas. The thought that you would wrap presents and then have a few “ew underwear” and more “WOW! That’s terrific!” That you would share the excitement of how you remember Christmas. And, it’s gone. It never was. Just like the expectations of what you would do with your child through the years. You may dream different dreams now. But there is always that twist of loss. And the guilt that you grieve the child you never had.

  4. Stephanie Sanford says:

    Hey mom, even tho doing things like opening gifts can seem a hassle because he can’t, it’s like any other therapy, practice, practice, practice. My son Bennett was diagnosed at 2 and now 7 can finally open gifts. He was 5 when he “got it”. He knows now about not pulling off every Christmas ornament on the tree. Knows there is a stocking that usually contains candy and knows that we get up early to make a mess. Practice, Practice, Practice. As far as The Elf, yeah, we have one. Mostly for our typical child who is 5, Grant.
    But here’s the thing, “Thomas” loves to fly high! We stays up near the ceiling, on top of frames, ceiling fans, Christmas tree tops, etc. Bennett knows the elf moves and knows he goes where he can’t reach him but that’s all he knows. Grant enjoys the magical part of it and knows Thomas can’t be touched “per the book”, so we keep him high so he won’t be attacked by our own Bennett Monster.
    Work on traditions you want to keep, poo-poo the ones you don’t.
    Good Luck!

  5. I too miss my Christmas traditions, but the decorations are just too much for my two non-verbal, autistic boys. We recently changed the layout of the furniture in our bedroom and it took my older boy 5 days before he would step foot in it. We are thinking about a small tree that would be less threatening to their environment than a huge one (like I reallllly want).

  6. Coleen says:

    I totally get your feelings. We have 2 children with disabilities and they don’t really understand the whole Christmas thing either. You just have to make the best of it, that is all you can do.

  7. Amanda says:

    Oh I so understand this!!

    It is very hard to let go of our ideas and expectations on what Christmas should be. So hard. We put up our fake tree last year and were baffled when our then 3.5 year old systematically took all the ornaments off and broke most of them trying to figure out how they work. I just didn’t get it. A little online digging enlightened me and I (selfishly) cried at the thought of not having a Christmas tree and lights decorating the house. As a child, I’d always wanted to have an electric train running around the tree and wanted to do that for my boys. But, I guess it’s just not meant to be. It’s been very hard for me to separate out why I want with what is realistic for him and will make him happy. We have a younger NT son and I worry about how this is all fair to him. Every kid should have memories of a Christmas tree, shouldn’t he?
    This year I bought a table top rosemary tree from Trader Joe’s that we will decorate.
    I made a paper chain countdown, each day with (what I thought would be) a fun activity to do to get us ready for Christmas. So far, he’s had no interest in doing any of them.
    He’s struggling with the idea of gift giving this year and I suspect our time with family will be limited this year.
    Sorry for all the rambling. This is a sore subject for me and I’m still struggling with it.

  8. mrianda says:

    I used to feel tht way about the lack of enthusiasm and understanding of Christmas….but, now that my son is older (almost 12), I guess the only way to look at it is with positives…..while other kids are asking for star wars toys, legos, and xbox 360’s, my son is happy with a mylar baloon….no stress to get the “hot” toy (that is ALWAYS sold out)….so, we get my son a few gifts, ranging from 10-20 each, wrap them, and help him open them xmas morning…..he could care less, but each year, he does show a little more interest…

  9. Ruth F says:

    The Elf scared my autistic son, “why is that thing living in my house” seemed to be his response?! You do Christmas for you, enjoy your tree and Christmas music. Don’t wrap, we don’t either. I remember how cautious my little guy approached the tree with so many presents… he couldnt understand where they all came from. But he was happy to have new things to play with. We made ornament cookies that he was allowed to eat, and we make the best of it. Thats all you can do, is make the best of what you have, and do the best that you can do!

  10. Yeah Christmas is a bit of a bust here in New Zealand too! Our Boo is pretty intense when it comes to things that are wrapped though, in the past 2 years he’s gone from not understanding about present being inside the wrapping paper to now bringing us every damn thing in the house that’s wrapped to he can check it out. Even regular post gets the once over. So now while there is a tress, he s gets his own to destroy and lick and whatever. He has his own rope lights on the ground to flapp around and all presents are stashed and brought out of hiding once everyone is sitting ready to open their loot. We have learnt through a long process(boo will be 8 in 3 days) that he only needs 2 or 3 gifts otherwise its just lost on him and he’ll ignore everything’s else.

  11. Nancy says:

    Christmas is always hard when there is autism in the house. I just let my son participate in what he wants to do. He and his sister put up the tree every year and then he leaves and the rest of us decorate it. He would also get fixated with one present and ignore the rest. We would give him some time and then later in the afternoon we would unwrap them for him. As he got older the dilemma of what to get him developed as he became too old for toys. We did books and movies for awhile , but now he is getting bored with that. I’m not sure what we will do this year. Try to enjoy the holidays. Do some old traditions because they will make YOU happy….and a happy mom makes a happy kid. Remember that you count too!

  12. Lynn Siegler says:

    I grew up with a younger non verbal autistic brother who didn’t “get” Christmas until he was about 10. Now, as a Mom to a NT 7 yr old Christmas maniac girl, and a 3.5 yr old nonverbal autistic son who has no clue about any holiday, I get what my parents went through. So far this year my son was terrified of his manger because it played a song, he wouldn’t even go in the room. We put it away. I will wrap one gift for him, but leave the others scattered about the room. As far as the Elf on a shelf goes; my daughter figured out Santa at age 2, and thinks the elf is creepy. At least I dodged that one.

  13. […] to Christmas and how my son doesn’t understand or “get” any part of the holiday. (Christmas Traditions) and how I was heartbroken. I really wish I didn’t suggest going yesterday, maybe I […]

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