As I was editing posts for Autisable.com this morning I came across one that really made me think. It was from a mother whose son is on the Autism spectrum. She talked about how her son wouldn't be baking Christmas cookies, didn't know who Santa was, had no conceptualization of giving or receiving gifts, and has a sensory aversion to the texture or wrapping paper or bags. The mother admitted that in Christmases past it was hard for her to have her son not react in the "usual" way to Christmas, but that this year she has resolved to meet her son where he is, and not expect him to not be himself.
This is so important and so powerful. We put a lot of pressure on the holidays. I'll admit it, I put a lot of pressure on the holidays. My childhood Christmases were always just about the same, on Christmas Eve my grandfather and I would decorate our HUGE tree, with lots of ornaments, some that my mom and uncles made when they were kids. I loved it. God how I loved decorating the tree with him. We'd put the presents under it. My grandmother did not dig decorating the tree, but she'd pull out the trinkets we put around the house, and put the tree skirt around the tree.
On Christmas day, our house was the hub, aunts, uncles, cousins and my mom would come over. My grandfather would also make a trip to his sisters house, my grandaunt - whose birthday also happened to fall on Christmas, to drop off and pick up presents.
I loved this. This was every Christmas pretty much all the way through college.
The first thing that happened was my grandaunt died. And then not only was she not there on Christmas, Christmas day was also her birthday, which was sad, and hard.
Last year, my grandfather and I didn't put up a tree. I've mentioned before that my grandmother has been sick and is in recovery. My grandfather is her primary care giver and to put him through the very arduous process of getting all the decorations from our top floor and rearranging the house to make the tree fit would have been unfair. Not to mention that since my grandmother has been back home there is just a lot of extra "stuff" in the house - wheelchairs and walkers and medical supplies, oh my! Which would have added to the process of finding a place for everything to go. I'll admit that I wanted to pressure my grandfather into decorating the tree. It's MY favorite part of Christmas... but that was selfish, and my Mom talked some sense in to me.
There will be no tree at my grandparents house this year either. For the same reasons. Add to that that my husband only has Christmas day off of work, so he won't be able to journey with me to my grandparents house 3 states away. So I'll have no husband with me for Christmas.
Ok, ok, this is starting to sound really sad, that isn't the point! lol. The point is, as an adult, I'm learning that I need to let go of the things that may have in the past signified Christmas to me. I'm learning to be happy that while there will be no tree, I still have both of my grandparents to wake up and say Merry Christmas too. I have a WONDERFUL husband that while I won't be with on Christmas day, I'll be with for the rest of my life. I'm am hugely blessed. God has been good to me.
The holidays are what you make them. Rather than putting some arbitrary rules or mandates on what you "need" to have a happy holiday, be happy for what you have. Enjoy this season of joy, giving, family, love, and life in general.