I wrote previously about autumn being the most wonderful time of the year, and I wasn’t kidding about that. However, the winter holidays aren’t bad, you know?
I’m working on being more positive, so I’ll start with the things I love.
Christmas lights! Especially the white ones. They look so beautiful against the gorgeous Pacific northwest fir trees, and manage to make even the monotonous condominiums so prevalent in this area look festive.
Presents! I’m a gift giver by nature, and scouting for the perfect present for everyone on my list is terrific fun. The desk in my bedroom is currently covered in boxes full of things I hope will surprise and delight the recipients. Love it!
Music! Especially classical versions of Christmas carols. I trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet as a child, and The Nutcracker has a special place in my heart.
Ok, the part of the holidays I hate… The sheer, blinding chaos of everything. I shop almost exclusively online, because I would rather rip off my own fingernails than go to the mall right now. Even Sephora, my favorite place in the universe, is a desperate crush of people with no concept of personal space. It’s exhausting. Parties and family gatherings are no better; like, where did all these people even come from? And why do they all think it’s ok to hug me without permission? It is not. RSVP no to all of it.
My husband has a huge family in Ohio, and events there were mandatory. I stayed home sick a few times, and don’t tell anyone, but I might not have been entirely truthful about my illness. If I wasn’t actually sick at the time, I would have been after spending a few hours with people I’d never seen before who all wanted to hug me, tell me I was too skinny, and ask when I was going to have babies.
Luckily, my immediate family in Seattle is low key about the whole thing. Thanksgiving this year was reservations at a restaurant on the lake, followed by Murder on the Orient Express at the Cinemark Reserve in Bellevue. Have you been there? Get a babysitter and go immediately. It’s 21+ with full menu and cocktail service at your seat, which reclines. Bliss. Christmas will probably be similar, and I’m honestly looking forward to it.
Odds are, your autistic child hates chaotic events as much as I do. I suggest being sensitive to that as you plan your own celebrations! Consider hosting an event in your home, so your kid can escape to his room if it gets to be too much. If your child is old enough, let her stay home from big events. Forget the mall. The mall is terrifying. Encouraging attendance at small gatherings is healthy, but forcing a person through a gauntlet of social mayhem is cruel. It can potentially even lead to dread of the holidays, which would be too bad. There are parts that can be wonderful.
Warm, calm holiday wishes to you and your family,
Faking Normal is a series written by guest blogger, J, an adult on the autism spectrum. Her other articles can be found here.