It turns out that my goals for the holiday season were overshooting it just a bit.
Let’s just say that first, the gluten-free flour we’ve been using for five years turned up missing at every single local vendor *the week of Thanksgiving.* Then, lots of other stuff. Finally, it was officially autism meltdown week at our house last week.
I gave up. I just gave up.
It took some deep psychological digging, but here’s what I realized:
We are different from most families. And I plan more “stuff” every year, hoping that maybe *this* is going to be the year that we don’t feel like a circus. (Everyone’s all…hey Facebook! Look at the Advent calendar my kids made today! And I’m all…hey Facebook! Look at the bruise my son gave me from biting me through my puffy winter coat!)
But we feel like a circus anyway, and I arrive at the home stretch ready to kill Christmas and feed it to my children.
So my conclusion is this: it’s time I stop trying to blend in with the rest of the world, trying to do what they do.
It’s time to own the fact that we’re a family who lives with autism. And we’re going to celebrate it the way we do.
There may not be Christmas crafts. My son hates art. But you know what he likes? Baking.
There may not be thoughtful brainstorming sessions or carefully homespun gifts. But my husband and I will share a well-deserved bottle of wine and a high-five when we submit the last of our brilliant amazon.com orders for the kids.
I may not be able to orchestrate new intricate family traditions modeled after a professionally-photographed Pinterest idea, but I’m a writer and I can write something kinda funny for the kids to act out for the family.
So, if you’re feeling like special needs has you on the outside this Christmas season, or if you know someone who feels this way, please do these two things:
- Know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you, sister/brother.
- Print out some of the following holiday fun.
As a thank you for hanging out with me this year, and as my Christmas present to you, I made three free printables for you.
Printable #1: Christmas Day Timeline
This is for the family whose child is having a hard time with the unique transitions of Christmas Day. I’ve made a sheet of all the Christmas Day activities I can think of–all you have to do is print, cut, choose the ones you want, and hang them up in a visible place for your child. This way, you can review your schedule with him or her, and they’ll know what comes next the day of. If you want, you can even use a clothespin or a magnet as a marker to show your child where you are in the process. Here’s to a few fewer Christmas meltdowns. Cheers!
Printable #2: Allergy-friendly Christmas cookie recipe cards
Two of our favorite recipes. I borrowed from this amazing cookbook so they’re not out of my own head, but I do promise a few yummy variations. 100% allergy safe, and they look and taste so normal!
Printable #3: Christmas on the Christmas Tree Farm, A Melodrama–a fun, inclusive family activity
Anyone remember church youth groups in the ’90s? You may remember the ever-reliable melodrama, in which a narrator selects a group of actors and reads the silly selection, while the actors improvise what they hear. The results are hilarious, but mostly because of how each actor’s personality comes out in the way they pantomime the action.
**IMPORTANT** The best part of this game is the element of surprise, so it is imperative that the actors do not hear the story before game time.
Merry Christmas, friends. And a happy welcome to 2016.