So it’s officially the launch of the holiday season with winter coming up on the calendar in three weeks, Dec. 21st is officially the first day of winter. Are you ready for it Moms? I don’t know if I am, but Michael sure is. He’s been talking about decorating the tree, his holiday concert at school, Christmas Day, and his birthday. He is also excited about building snowmen, sledding, skating and playing outside. I think all of us are a little enthusiastic at this time, before we get buried under heavy snow and want to retreat somewhere warm and tropical or is that just me? But I digress.
As parents, there is a mountain of things to do before the holiday season is upon us. There is usually baking, family holiday pictures to take, gifts to buy, and decorating the house for the holidays. This is one of my favorite traditions, and over the years Michael has learned to love doing it too. The first weekend in December you’ll usually find our family putting up our Christmas tree, lights on the windows, tinsel on our staircase, as well as other holiday decorations all over the house. Because I am a big Christmas geek who starts listening to Christmas music at the beginning of December (yep, I do!) I insist on having some Christmas music playing for the decorating of the house as well. After we are done, as a family we have hot chocolate to celebrate. This is part of a pre-child tradition my husband and I had, we would have a little shot of Amaretto to officially start our holiday season, but we’ve had to amend that since Michael was born.
I can’t believe each year as I look down at all the beautiful ornaments on our tree, and the new ones that are added through Michael’s crafts at school, how far he has come, how far we have come as a family celebrating the holidays. I now have about four years’ worth of Michael’s labor, progress and joy to put up on our family tree. Yes, it is an intense time for children with autism. Michael is no different. But the joy he has in celebrating with us, in partaking of family traditions, is no different than any other child. I love how he embraces everything from church on Christmas Eve, to Christmas Day celebration with family to his birthday celebration in between, to New Year’s Eve and Day. It is a lot for him to handle at times, and as his Mom, I try to give him as many breaks to take it all in. It’s a whirlwind for all of us, but seeing how he’s grown in maturity helps me stay strong at harder moments. All I have to do is look around me and see my blessings, embrace the new season of gathering, feasting and family, and I know that all is well.
Joanne Giacomini is a fiction writer and a blogger. She blogs about how her son with autism is raising her at www.exceptionalmomchild.wordpress.com.