It’s 8:30 AM on Christmas morning and my kids aren’t awake. Neither is Mr. Incredible, for that matter. He learned early on not to expect 5 AM excitement over presents and stockings and Santa. It’s just me and the cats.
When Superman was little, I didn’t think much of it. I liked sleeping in. He loved opening a gift or two but was mostly indifferent, enough that I wondered if maybe I was Christmassing wrong. Here’s a thing, though…if you are a special needs parent and you are not riddled with questions and insecurity sometimes, then you should be. I can’t count the times I’ve found myself thinking “I’m not doing X right.”
Anyway, back to Christmas. I LOVE Christmas. The sights, smells, music, decorations, the bell ringing, people in Santa hats asking for dollars for this and that, the way everyone seems to love each other just a little bit more, the FOOD! There is not a drop of Christmas that I don’t soak up like a sponge. Mr. Incredible even gave me, one year, a Crosby record player so I could listen to my 70s era thrift store Christmas albums. Therefore, my Xmas excitement when I had an Autie child was tempered some by his indifference. He couldn’t have given any less of a crap about staying up late to try and catch Santa, in fact, he found Santa to be unnatural. The gifts he loved were sensory-rich. He didn’t love the unpredictability of wrapped gifts and stockings and people coming and going. Oh, and just TRY to get him to eat ham. No, really. TRY IT. He might do it for you.
I always wanted that picture-perfect Christmas morning, when my kids would swarm the tree and be all “SANTA! SANTA was here! Even though we’re naughty children!” OK, maybe not that last bit, but we all know Santa comes to see the naughty children, too. Then, we would all sit around, drinking hot cocoa and loving each other.
Sometimes, Superman has a meltdown while we are opening gifts. It’s usually because I made a poor choice buying something fabulous that he thinks doesn’t make a good present. Other times, it’s just overstimulation. I try to keep it simple, but they don’t really get new things often, so at times, maybe I get a little carried away.
Nobody gets up early except me, and we don’t get to open gifts before you know who has eaten.
He checks our Gamestop account to see if I’ve bought video games.
We must have Shells and Cheese on the table. If we have turkey, it has to have gravy and if I don’t get the gravy spot on, he won’t eat it OR the turkey.
I remind myself often that he’s not trying to be difficult, he has Autism.
Still, I make sure to mix it up a bit. I finally got him to stop rejecting awesome T-shirts as gifts. It took years. This year, we are having a rib roast instead of turkey. Instead of the cheese sticks he asked for, I am making my mom’s sausage balls. And so it goes.
What I’ve learned from our journey has been this.
I changed my dreams.
Now, my perfect Christmas morning means a quiet house while I sip my coffee. Santa comes while the kids are still awake, rings jingle bells around the house, and they come out and are all “WOOOOOW!” and then after the excitement has died down, we all go to bed. We open stockings, then patiently wait for gifts while YKW has breakfast.
We do have all day, after all.