New Christmas Traditions
When the kids were little, pre-regression/pre-autism diagnosis. We didn’t have traditions. I was a wing it kinda Mom, things happened when we felt like it, you could even say they happened when the stars aligned. Other than you open one package mom picked (it was always pajamas and something small to keep them busy). There wasn’t much we did on a schedule as far as holiday traditions, I didn’t operate well on a schedule, I blame my ADHD.
You might think autism would fit well into this kinda life, but not really. Zach craved his structure, when something changed he was stressed out. Big changes often caused regression, just a little change and he would stim and fret. About the time of Zach’s diagnosis we moved to an 1896 Victorian home. It’s beautiful with a grand staircase in the front hall, lots of places for lights and decorations and the 1st year we were here we went all out. Wreaths on every door, lights all over inside and out 2 trees, one in the parlor and one in the family room. Then we had a regression. He lost words, went back on the tiny amount of potty training he had done. It was then we realized what was happening. So we simply stopped doing the things that caused him stress. We only decorated where he couldn’t see it. We had a tree in a room Zach never went to, that was put up and decorated after he was in bed.
Still even though he stressed less and stopped regressing, it felt wrong. Like we were leaving him out of everything. He didn’t even like to unwrap the presents, so we would do them for him. Slowly, over the years we showed Zach the tree a little earlier, eventually he learned to not stress out, eventually he even liked it! Each year we added little bit, a snowman, a few lights, eventually we will have the whole house full of holiday spirit. We have been here 8 years, now we have a tree in the living room, stockings on the mantle, lights too. He loves to turn the lights on when the sun goes down and then turn them off when he goes to bed. He no longer regresses with change. Then, last year, we put up our 1st tree together! He helped put a couple of candy canes on the tree and ornament. Maybe this year he will make his own ornament, and put his stamp on our little tree, I realized something. I never left him behind. He just takes a bit more time to adjust to change. Who knows maybe, eventually we will contribute to the massive electric bills across the country and help fund the bonus for oil company employees. Zach has, as always taught me how things can change and grow, He showed me that little things like adding one more strand of lights, or one more snowman on the mantle can be huge and how even every little thing is worth waiting for. He taught me to slow down and enjoy life. To find joy in all the little things.