Our unique Christmas: embracing differences

By Christine Cronin

It’s December. Officially Christmas. The start of this season, fills my insides with a mixture of joy, anxiety and sadness every year.

Joy for all that it is. Anxious for what it might be. And sadness for everything it isn’t.

Christmas’ gone by were easier when he was little. I mean, looking back, they were still exhausting for sure. But they still felt like Christmas and as each year comes and we take the lessons learned from last year and implement ‘easier’ into this year, it gets to be less Christmassy and more, samsies.

Christmas now, as a special needs family is completely different to what Christmas was prior to being a special needs family. Christmas now is nothing like the Christmas I had as a kid.

Christmas now is nothing like before we had our kids.

Christmas now is nothing like when he was little or when his sister was little or even like the Christmas other special needs families show.

Christmas now, is completely different. It’s not full of family. Or friends. And even the decorations can be too much for his change-disputing heart.

The traditions of advent calendars, Santa photos and grandparents coming to stay have all slowly washed away as time’s gone by from the overwhelm they hold on him. The gift giving is kept to a minimum. The routine stays stringently the same and there’s no relaxation or holiday time.

Going places is hard with almost every place becoming overcrowded. And even staying home can be difficult, too. There’s no drinking cheer or late night Christmas movie bingeing.

And this year even, for fear of it being completely destroyed, we aren’t completely convinced we should even put up the Christmas tree. There’s no dinner parties or bbq’s or even just afternoon catch ups with friends.

And in fact, when his last day of school rolls around next week, it’s not exactly the start of the ‘holiday’ season for us. It really means we knuckle down and work harder. Instead of getting the only break we ever get while he’s at school, we start a caring shift for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And it’s our job, I know. I’m not complaining. I’m prepared and willing and I’m here for it and I’m even really grateful that he has school and we get that small “break” because I know, there are others that don’t even get that.

But Christmas, for us and for him, is somewhat similar to all our other days. It doesn’t feel like Christmas time. It really just feels like, another day.

And for my Christmas-loving, people-adoring and relax-wanting heart, that’s been hard to get used to. I desperately want to have what everyone else is having.

With all the Christmas glitter and trimmings and drunk uncle stories to tell. But right now, and maybe for a long time or even for an ever time, it’s not for us. Things are different now.

Right now, in our family’s season, it’s a little less festive, and just a little more, staying neutral. And that’s okay. It is. If this life has taught me anything it’s that, we are different.

We don’t do anything the same as other families and trying to resist the acceptance of that, really does make things harder. I’m not going to force Christmas into our home, I’m just going to go with what is. If we get to put up the tree and it lasts a day, so be it.If we don’t get to drive our neighbourhood and look at Christmas lights because it’s not what feels right, so be it.

If no Christmas baking happens and if our gift giving is broken up into sections and even if it’s just us, so be it. This year more than ever, is calling for the need to go with flow of it all and I really am okay with that.

Keep going dear Mama, I know this time of year is stressful and harder than usual, but just remember, we don’t have to try hard to make it what it isn’t. We do it differently.

And so be it. That’s ok. Keep going.

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