I pause in the hallway putting a temporary stop to my quest to get the laundry done and put away before Santa comes. Did I just hear something?
“Mom, I’m nervous.”
“Yes, Sean. What are you nervous about?”
I’ve had a rough day – my first attempt ever at making no-bake chocolate-covered, peanut butter balls (also known as “Reindeer Balls”) has failed miserably and I can’t even begin to think about my list of things to do.
Thus, I lose it.
“Sean, it’s Christmas *&!#@ Eve! What could you possibly be nervous about?”
I’m expecting him to say something like the noise, the people, the food, leaving the house… anything that would be rational and understandable.
It’s something entirely different and something I can’t prevent or avoid.
Ah, but I can….
“Then stay home,” I tell Sean.
And I mean it. I really do. How many holidays do you just give in to autism or whatever disability your child has and say screw it, we’re staying home?
As people hustle and bustle about, buying this or that, cooking for hours on end, and traveling to far away destinations…
How many of us are staying home?
We can’t buy the latest in technology because all of our extra money goes towards therapies that aren’t covered by insurance.
We don’t travel because it’s difficult enough some days to make it to school let alone over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house.
We cook but keep to the menu that makes sense to our kids and their texture issues
And we certainly don’t hustle and bustle about…not when there is a strict schedule to keep at home.
No… holidays with a disabled child are different.
They are simple.
Sometimes they are little more than a date on a calendar.
Frozen pizza for Thanksgiving?
And tomorrow’s menu for Christmas Day?
We’re having pancakes.
No turkey. No plate after plate of Christmas desserts (Sean doesn’t eat much sugar).
No long car rides. No airplanes.
Just another day…or as close to it as possible.
Sean will awaken at his usual early hour and dive into his Multi-Grain Cheerios, sans spoon. He will pay more attention to his computer games than the presents waiting beneath the tree.
His sisters will eventually stir and our Christmas ritual will begin.
Presents will be opened. Some will be tossed aside, the excitement from when they were initially put on “the list” to now having seriously waned. Others will be installed, plugged in, or played with right away.
It should all last about 15 minutes…maybe 20.
And then it’s back to life. Back to normal.
Sometime during the day we’ll stop by Grandma’s with Christmas wishes and to collect more loot.
But then it’s home. Maybe we’ll get a movie from Red Box and watch it. Maybe we’ll take the dog for a walk.
Maybe we’ll light a fire in the fireplace.
A whole Santa’s bag full of maybe’s but all carefully planned and carried out with the sole goal of getting through the day in mind.
Keep it simple. Keep it quiet.
Keep it normal.
And as we sit down for our breakfast-as-dinner pancakes and look back upon our day, we will know in our hearts that Christmas is not about fancy food or unwrapping the latest gadget.
It’s about family.
So from my family to yours… we wish you a day full of routine and lacking in meltdowns….
A day full of gratefulness for the blessings in our lives…
And a day to be together – if not hand in hand then heart to heart.