A note from Spectrum Mummy…

Sick of ‘Top Tips’ for a perfect Christmas?

Me too. Christmas is a time when I am even more aware of how different Autism makes my family.

I write this late in November, and I’m already wondering what to do about the Christmas tree. My daughter loves them and wants it out NOW. But I remember last year. The baubles we found under the sofa with chunks bitten out when we packed away, the endless times each day I had to pick the tree up and put the decorations back on while she huffed in the background, and I could think of nothing soothing or constructive to say about how her brother launching it across the room hourly was going to enrich her life in some way in years to come. Last year we put a smaller tree in her bedroom, just for her. That’s not going to work this year – my son is a cat burglar, he breaks into her room and all our cleverly locked cupboards daily. I give the chocolate advent calendars about 35 minutes if last year is anything to go by. His favourite pastime is shredding things, and tinsel is perfect. We were knee deep in shiny bits and sad stripped lengths of bedraggled string for weeks last year – our feet in their new socks resembled glittering snowshoes most of the time with the amount of sparkle they gathered as we walked from room to room. I might add that my sons poo was pretty festive looking too.

Then there are presents. We’ve had years when our boy wouldn’t even look at them and firmly rejected the whole idea of a surprise. Years when he sneaked down and opened all of them and we had no idea whom they were to or from. And what on earth do you buy for a kid that doesn’t play with any toys? We had a brainwave this year, now he points and says ‘I want…’, we took him to Toys R Us and let him run around and show us what he likes. I think we’re probably blacklisted with our photos on the staffroom wall now, they might well have bought in counsellors for the lad who tried to help us get him down from the shelves, but we did discover he had a passion for a certain cartoon figure that we’d been previously unaware of. So it helped.

Something else that worked last time around is that he helped wrap his own presents. Somehow, seeing the presents going into the paper, made it less stressful unwrapping them on the big day, so he only threw a small amount of them straight in the kitchen bin or over the fence into next doors garden. He did like the sparkly bows though, they shredded nicely.

This time of year, I have other big decisions to make. Do I subject the houses and possessions of my friends and loved ones to my son’s antics, or do I vainly try and keep my house in a fit state to receive visitors? Neither is a popular option with me. Quite frankly, I’m tired of apologising.

So maybe this year I am not going to try and have a perfect Christmas. If I think the words ‘happy Christmas moment’, it’s when everyone else is in bed and I have the remote control to myself. It’s Xmas Eve, sitting on the sofa with a box of chocs and a bottle of Irish Cream. So I’m going to make sure I do that. I’m going to invest in two new padlocks for my daughters room and let her have the biggest tree and the choice of the best decs to make her room into Santa’s grotto should she wish. I’ll buy two advent calendars for her to make up for last year. The rest of the tinsel can be put in a box for shredding. After all, I quite like the sparkly festive socks.  If I decide that my family will be happy putting on swimwear, drinking mock-marguerita’s and having Nachos with Mariachi music for Christmas dinner, then that’s what I’m going to do. That lets me off from finding 101 things to do with (expensive) leftover turkey that take hours to make and minutes to end up on the floor.

If I don’t need to stand, then I’m going to sit. If I don’t need to sit, then I’m going to lay down with my feet up. It’s not often I don’t have to do the school run, so I’m going to make the most of the rest. If the kids want to lose themselves in mindless activities for a few days, I’m not going to fret.  I’ll take them to the park now and again for a bit of fresh air and I’ll give them some space to just ‘be’ for a little while.

I’m going to think about who I really want to spend time with and invite them first. I’m not going to spend the most time and energy on the people who are a pain. All my easy-going pals end up at the bottom of my list. Not this year. For the tricky people that I do have to see – I’m going to imagine myself with a force-field and remember that what they say and do says everything about them and nothing about me and mine. I’m going to invent a long lost Aunty Doris. No more giving everyone else everything they’ve ever wanted and receiving pants that don’t fit me, books I don’t want to read, shampoo that makes my head itch and cloudy chocolates that were clearly bought in the sale the year previously in return. This Christmas I will buy myself a little luxury or two, wrap them up and label them with ‘love from Aunty Doris’.

I’m starting to look forward to it now. My family need space to rest, be together and enjoy each other, exactly as we are. It’s time we stop trying to fit into everyone else’s idea of Christmas and create instead a much more sparkly and interesting one of our own.

Spectrum Mummy xx   

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6 Responses to "A note from Spectrum Mummy…"

  1. A mom who knows says:

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on holiday’s past and present. Sometimes you just have to try something new and forget what everyone else thinks. Your article was really funny.
    Thanks…from a mom who knows and has been there.

  2. Simone Taylor says:

    I loved your post, so right, hope your Holiday season comes out just the way you wish and if it doesn’t oh well great too, to make it rhyme, we also have tinsel poo!

  3. Betsy schafer says:

    You Rock, Sister! Happy Christmas.

  4. Jessica Warwick says:

    Fantastic reading,I,ll join you in an Irish cream,heres to our sparkly boys,cheers and Happy Christmas !

  5. Liza Maloney says:

    I really enjoyed your story and too can emphathise. I also have a nine year old daughter that does all the things you talked about. I have only just begun to realise that its long overdue that I cease having to please others. Well done and keep up the very hard work.

  6. Sally says:

    Love your perspective, love your story, very inspiring. Thankyou

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