The holidays can be such a contradiction in terms for so many of us. It can be “the most wonderful time of the year” as the song boastfully claims or it can be downright miserable and leave you feeling crabbier than the Grinch. It can be jolly like the fat man who gets all the credit or it can make you surly as I tend to think Mrs. Claus feels this time of year since her husband gets all the credit for the presents. You know damn well she gets NO acknowledgment whatsoever for her part in all the festivities. Even the elves get recognition. You can long for family and then have an overwhelming desire to run screaming in terror 15 minutes after you or they have arrived because of some ignorant comment. Yes, the magic of the holiday season. Hope may float but it isn’t the only thing, if you know what I mean.
All of that is WITHOUT being the parent of a child with special needs of any kind. We’re “blessed” with more of everything—more meds, more planning, more sickness, more stress, more meltdowns, more family friction, more dietary issues, more hyperactivity, more oversensitivity, more notes or calls from school, more routines disrupted—more, more, more. Makes you feel like Santa left coal in your stocking for no good reason sometimes. Our situations don’t translate well to a holiday card that makes you want to grab a cup of eggnog and belt out a Christmas carol.
But one thing that parents like us do get better than most is to cherish the little things that get us to go from day-to-day. Like when our child manages to sit on Santa’s lap without screaming in terror like he’s being abused and causing a major scene. My youngest managed that this year. I captured the “magical moment” on video—all 10 seconds of it. (Literally—10 seconds. But hey, it’s still 10 seconds which is like a marathon for B.) Or the little bursts of holiday spirit, like when my oldest decided, completely unexpectedly this morning, to wear a Santa hat to school—MIDDLE SCHOOL. I asked him why—and other kids were doing it so he wanted to as well. We went through the whole scene like some social role play at the kitchen table because I was anticipated mocking and bullying from others—you know the “gift” that keeps giving. Actually, I think he was trying to get a girl to notice. (Dear Lord, grant me strength.) But he left with a smile and almost merry. Or when B’s music teacher stopped me to relate how she was tickled that B rang the bells during “Jingle Bells” in her class with a big smile on his face and actively engaged. Not exactly moments for a Norman Rockwell painting but precious to me just the same.
So despite all the presents to be wrapped, the cookies to be finished, the schedules to adhere to, the messy house to ignore, and the stress yet to come…I will try to remain positive these last couple of days. I hope that you holidays—whatever your family celebrates—are peaceful and happy however that translates in your house. May your child be engaged by at least one present, may you have a ready witty quip for that family member who always gets under your skin, and may you find one moment to treasure for yourself. Merry Christmas. Oh, and Santa—I’d prefer chocolates in my stocking this year. (Hint, hint there P.)