My love for him and my love for the holidays had to be kept separate before this year.
My sister and I could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve, we would cuddle up together in our matching pajamas but we were always too excited to sleep. We would wake before the sun, “sneak” down the steps and have paper and presents all over the living room before daylight.
My mom made our Christmas so special, year after year.
I’ve tried to do the same. I’ve carried on the same traditions. Matching jammies, reindeer food, special ornaments, Christmas lights.
Would Jackson ever feel that? Would Monroe get to share that with him?
The first years of autism and Christmas he didn’t, and it was heartbreaking for me.
For the past several Christmas seasons I learned to try to keep my love for them separate.
I didn’t want my want for him to love the holiday as much as I do to lead to disappointment about concepts that he didn’t yet understand.
We would get there, I hoped!
The first few years he didn’t even open any presents, and then we landed in the years where he had no interest so buying anything was hard.
Last year he asked for TWO gifts, and he played with the other things we bought too.
We sat and watched him in amazement. I didn’t dare take down the tree or clean up the presents for weeks because I was afraid if I cleaned up he would be done playing.
This year his excitement matched mine. He asked for Christmas trees, lights, and has made a long Christmas list.
While this is amazing, this will be the year he learns we don’t get everything we ask for on our long list, and that’s ok.
This year our Christmas isn’t so different, everyone is being asked to stay home and celebrate small. I ordered takeout breakfast so I don’t have extra dishes on Christmas morning. We are learning how to sit back and enjoy the day with him.
Anxiety has matched his joy along the way but we are working through it.
The waiting is hard, the changes to the house are hard, but he’s working through it. We all are.
He’s so excited for Santa and gifts that he told me he’s bringing his own toys, these last seven days his patience is running thin.
It’s been a long wait to get here, but it’s been worth every second.
To the new autism mom who is silently drying her tears each night about the upcoming holiday, I see you, you are not alone. You will learn to make new traditions, new memories, and each year your child will find their Christmas joy regardless of what that looks like for everyone else.