Special Saturday – Christmas traditions – the tree!

I used to do the whole caboodle of Christmas – concerts, church services, Christmas parties, a pantomime  and goodness know what else, but since autism entered our life (times 2) and has become more pronounced over the years, Christmas is now usually spent as quietly as possible at home.

I do miss the social interaction with friends but it’s not fair to put my autistic children through the added stress of social events when there is enough for them to deal with.  The change from school to being at home, the expectation and excitement of Christmas presents, a special meal and everything else can all be too much for them and invariably, at some point we will get a meltdown or two (usually on Christmas Eve).  So we quieten things down.  This doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Christmas; of course we do and like most other  families we also adopt our own special traditions.  One of those is the tree.

About two or three weeks before ‘the day’ we usually buy a real Christmas tree from a Christmas tree farm not far from where we live.  The farm has fields and fields dedicated to growing all sorts of christmas trees and in the middle is a large barn that is lit up with Christmas lights and a massive inflatable father christmas.  Our children love going.  The fun of picking a tree that will fit into our lounge, of watching the men chop, tie and wrap the tree and our struggles to get it onto the roof of the car and back home has been a tradition that we have all enjoyed. 

Unfortunately over the last couple of years, the recession has caused us to drop this in favour of our green plastic thing from the loft which, though is lovely for a plastic thing, is not quite the same.  Our kids have missed choosing and lugging home a real tree so I may just revert to our lovely family tradition once more.

Whether plastic or real though, getting the tree and decorating it marks the start of our family Christmas.  Decorating it used to be my sole pleasure while my children were babies but as our children have grown older they have now joined in, a bittersweet experience if I’m honest.  Whilst I love involving my children, there does tend to be too many arguments between the younger two as to who has picked what, where they have placed it, who has put the most on. 

But somehow we struggle through the arguments  and broken baubles and hours later the tree is finally dressed with an array of decorations, many of which are handmade treasures from my children.  We don’t do the colour coordinated tree that fits in with the lounge decor thing.  Ours is full on red, green, white, silver, gold with tinsel, baubles and all singing and dancing lights.  

Then it’s the ta-dah moment when we switch on the Christmas tree lights.  In a flick of the switch, our lounge is suddenly transformed into something quite pretty where the only light comes from our beautiful tree.  For a while we sit amongst the boxes that once stored the decorations and admire the cosiness of our lounge and the sparkle from our tree.  This is where we are lucky.  My children respond well to lights and colours which is why decorating the tree is something we really look forward to. 

Unfortunately the only slight problem we have is removing the tree in early January.  It’s not the practical issue of removing a hefty 6 ft tree that’s the problem (I have a husband for that) but the fact that my son becomes so attached to Christmas that he doesn’t want the tree taken away.  I’m sure if he had his way, he would have Christmas every day of his life, such is his resistance to change and such is his love of Christmas.  Somehow though we manage to revert the lounge to its boring pre-Christmas look, ready to go through the same thing all over again the following year.

-~-

This post is for Special Saturday, an online campaign that aims to raise awareness of children with special needs.   Every Saturday a prompt is given to encourage people to write or tweet about something in order to help raise awareness of special needs. 

If you would like to learn more about Special Saturday then you can do so though the following ways:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/SpecialSaturday

Twitter – follow @Specialsat and use the hashtag #specialsaturday

The Blog – http://specialsaturday.org/

Wendy at the Savette Gazette – http://www.savette.com/category/special-saturday/

 

This post is day 12 of the nablopomo challenge.

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11 Responses to Special Saturday – Christmas traditions – the tree!

  1. Your tradition sounds very similar to my family. For the first year ever we are going to a christmas tree farm and picking our very own real christmas tree! My daughter is so excited! We are slowly building our collection of handmade decorations that the children make. I LOVE december it is the most magical time of year!

  2. Popped in from Toast a Post on RC Mums recommendation.

    Lovely post, it’s great to have Christmas traditions that fit in with your own families needs.

    We have one where we open just one present before bed on Christmas Eve – I know a lot of people would be horrified but when the children were younger it helped to settle them.

    • Aspie in the family

      I love that idea of letting them open one present on Christmas Eve to help them settle. We used to leave a little pressy on their beds so that when they got up really early (3am one year) they had something to open and would settle back to sleep. Our presents are usually under our tree downstairs.

  3. I have toasted this post today as I really remembered it all week :) http://rollercoaster-mum.blogspot.com/2011/11/nov-18th-nablopomo-post-18-toast-post.html
    Here’s to Christmas trees!

  4. oh, I so get all of this – I love Christmas, especially the tree, wrapping presents, carols, lights etc etc I could go on and on! I agree with Galina – it was sad for me that my Sasha didn’t get it, but now she is starting to, and to be honest it’s in a nicer way than my elder daughter, as she is not commercially aware so doesn’t ask for anything every 5 minutes!!! I’ve just had to make the decision to go for still white lights on the tree though for a change – I think the flashing multicolour that we’ve always had must have given her a headache although she couldn’t really say so! But there’ll still be lots of decorations, and both girls will help…. then I’ll secretly switch them all around and make it a bit more symmetrical once they go to bed ;)

    • Aspie in the family

      LOL, I know what you mean about secretly switching the decorations around. I have to do this a little bit otherwise the tree would look lopsided. Deb x

  5. For me the saddest part of any holidays and celebrations that my son does not seem to anitcipate them. And the food issue too. I love cooking and for me this is one of the ways I show my love to my family. Sadly my son would not eat any o the special dishes, he eats more or less the same food every day, Christmas or birthday. Yes, I give him extra treats but it is not the same as eating together. If only he would show some interest in food, I would cook for him anything and everything. At the moment he is partial to Kipling’s Angel slices, he carefully removes the icing and eats the sponge.
    As for keeping the tree, you will probably laugh, but we used to keep our tree until the end of February, when I have my birthday. When I was a child, I loved our trees so much that I asked my Mum to keep it until my birthday party. And so it was for many years. Our friends were always amused by the Christmas tree in February, but they loved it.
    I will try to have a tree this year for my guys, but Sasha is not particularly interested.Eddie might like it, as he is 15 months old now (I did not make an effort last year, as he was too young to understand anything and I was too exhausted with the lack of sleep).
    sorry for my long post, galina

    • Aspie in the family

      Hi Galina; please don’t worry about writing long comments on my blog. Feel free to express youself here; I will always reply even if it takes me a while to do so. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your tree up until Feburary; that’s your tradition that is special to you. As for the food issues, i do understand the frustrations and difficulties. Whilst my son loves his Christmas meal, my aspergers daughter has issues with textures and the look of certain foods which means she hates Christmas lunch. No doubt I will have to make an alternative meal for her but then I can never guarantee she’ll eat that. Deb x

  6. I can so identify with much of your Christmas tree tradition – I don’t have the challenges of children with special needs but I still love the whol Christmas tree thing and admit to feeling rather sad when we have to take it down. Ours is plastic too but we always had a real one when I was a child and I love the smell of a real one – so Christmassy.
    BTW I have recommended your blog to a good friend of mine whose little girl has recently been diagnosed (is that the right word – if not I’m sorry) with autism – I think you have so much information and advice for people. :)

    • Aspie in the family

      I’m glad you can identify with my post Rollercoaster Mum. I always hope that I can show that we all share similar traditions or experiences whether or not we have special needs children. Thanks for recommennding my blog; I hope your friend finds it useful and yes, diagnosed with autism, is a term that is used. Deb x

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