My husband and the three youngest kids went out to the country yesterday to pick out a fresh Frasier. Now that this prized tree is up, I am reminding myself about how disastrous it was last year when we tried to do a "family tree trimming night." with all of the ornaments down at once and not having pre-planned the whole thing. Between Caroline's total lack of patience with noise and chaos, and Mae's insistence on perfection, I seem to recall that we had to bring everything to a screeching halt. We decided to try again the next night, with only one child at a time hanging up their own ornaments. This was a much better strategy than the confusion over whose ornaments were where and who got to put up what when. Again, something simple for other families is far from easy when you have a child with Aspergers, or bipolar disorder, or severe ADHD (or all three for that matter.) Accommodations must be made or you will hate this holiday so much you may refuse to decorate at all, as I was close to doing last year!
Oh, and we do not make Caroline sit through one of our other daughter's Nutcracker ballets, like we did in years past. She hates watching ballet, so why make her endure, or make us endure, her discomfort? Without the normal amount of self-control that other thirteen year olds have, she would get claustrophobic and agitated with each passing minute of the ballet. Some things are just not worth the pain. So we will do our best to enjoy this wonderful season celebrating God's gift to the world of His precious Son, while keeping it as low key as possible. Now, ice skating as a family is something everyone seems to tolerate just fine, as well as seeing the display of lights at the botanical gardens. You just have to find what works and what doesn't. Decorating one gingerbread house at the same time doesn't work. Letting each child do one side by themselves, bingo. Taking all four kids shopping for presents for each other together: bad idea. Taking one at a time, magic. Be kind to yourself. Drop the idea of a perfect Normal Rockwell Christmas, and embrace one that is rich in meaning, if not in activities.