Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas.....Special Needs Style

Christmas tends to be a hectic and chaotic time of year.  Packed with coming and going, shopping, baking, wrapping, planning, it can suck the joy from the very best of us if we let it.

For the past several years, Christmas has been exceedingly hard on Moise.  We've tried, in spite of the difficulties, to keep up with the traditional holiday hubbub.  Dragging him here and there. Struggling to keep him content in an environment that breeds confusion and frustration for him.  We've spent endless amounts of energy getting both, Moise and Kruz, dressed and medicated, packing special cups, spoons and extra diapers and loading them, complete with walkers and wheelchairs among piles of gifts and trays of mandatory festive foods, into the van.  Upon arriving, the struggle to get them and all of their paraphernalia in the door of an already packed building is very real and very physically draining. Then anxiety and tension is immediate as both boys are instantly thrust into freak out mode from sensory overload. Too many people equals too much noise equals yelling, crying, rocking, thrashing, grabbing, scratching. Jim and/or I typically spend much of the holiday in a separate room, frantically trying to ward off the impending doom of Moise-is-going-to-flip-his-lid and ruin the day for everyone. All the while we hope, for the love of all that is good and holy, that Moise doesn't need a bathroom because that, in an un-adapted bathroom, takes us to the now-I'm-going-to-flip-my-lid zone.  And somewhere in the midst of it all, the joy and peace of togetherness is lost.  All in the name of keeping the Christmas spirit.

This year, knowing that Moise's rapid growth over the last year would make every holiday event even more difficult than it was before, and with Kruz's histeria over too many people in one place at Thanksgiving fresh in our minds, we opted out of all Christmas gatherings.  We said "no" to anxiety and "yes" to peacefulness.  There's a hint of sadness as we bid farewell to lifetime traditions. But that sadness is quickly being replaced by a deep sigh of relief as we approach Christ's birthday without the mounting tension. Our two youngest boys come with their share of complexities. But there are times, like now - when they force us to choose simplicity - that I so appreciate them and the impact they have had on our life.

These past few weeks have been blissfully uncomplicated.  We enjoyed holiday shopping before the stores became packed and the lines endless. We've strung lights and decorated the tree, baked cookies and wrapped gifts, all at a much slower pace than ever before. The nativity, with Mary and Joseph gathered around the One who was born to bring the peace that this world so desperately longs for, has been moved up to the dining room hutch, away from curious little hands.

We're three days into Christmas break and Kruz and I are enjoying longer than usual snuggles in the glow of the tree. There are few things sweeter than freshly bathed babies in snuggly footed pajamas that twist and dangle from baby feet.

I'm not sure if I've ever shared this with you, but my husband is amazing in the kitchen when he wants to be.  I treasure the sound of he and our daughters working together over whatever happens to be the current culinary masterpiece.  In this case--gingerbread men.

Jade and I have also shared lots of time in the kitchen this season. She's home from college, which offers plenty of time for making more and more holiday treats while everyone else is off to work. Without so many places to go, the baking is for no other reason but for the sheer joy of it.  Kruz is wherever we are and spends an inordinate amount of time playing in the cupboards and occasionally finding himself in a predicament.

Gift giving, where Moise and Kruz are concerned, is completely stress free.  I never, ever worry about what to buy or how much to spend.  They like the paper and the boxes but they don't care about gifts and I've long ago given up the idea of buying obligatory gifts for them. I buy things if I think it might aide in their development but I know that all they really want is us, our time, our love, our touch. All the things that no amount of money can buy.

Laynee also continues to teach us in her absence.  Another angel hangs from the tree, representing yet another year without her. Her tree out back glows beautiful and pink, a gentle peaceful reminder to slow down, to enjoy this moment because life is fragile and next year doesn't always come.  

Christmas looks much different at our house this year than in years past.  We're making new traditions. It's slow. It's quiet.  It's peaceful.  I am so thankful for the simplicity that our two complex boys bring into our life. It's so much easier to remember the true meaning of this season when we let go of some of life's expectations.

God is good, all the time.