They say it's the most wonderful time of the year, but as I talk to special needs families during the holidays, I get the sense that sometimes Christmas is more of a chore than a treat. Often Christmas means party, travel and gift-giving anxieties. There are inevitable uncomfortable interactions with well-intentioned family, friends and neighbors. It is as if our differences are more obvious and exclusionary than usual during the holidays.
While all of that is true, my special needs Christmas philosophy can be summed up in three words: SANTA CLAUS FOREVER! I think one of my very favorite things about being a special mom is this: Santa Claus comes to my house every Christmas morning. Nicolas is eighteen years old, and again this year when he sits next to Santa and nervously discusses the gifts he wants, his eyes will reflected awe, his heart will flutter, and his whole being will exude his confidence that Santa is real, and will soon sneak into our living room.
My Christmas advice to all the parents of special kids is this: enjoy and embrace the exceptional innocence and wonder of your child this holiday season. At whatever level they understand or experience Christmas, soak that in and hold it tight. This seems small, I am aware, in the scheme of life. But please don't overlook the wonder of it all.
Special parents don't have a lot that seems to be in the column of "better than" a typical family, but this is definitely a win for us. My special boy always reminds me of the pure joy of Christmas. He reminds me that believing as a small child is the way we are all expected to believe, always. Not in Santa, but in the reason Santa spreads gifts all over the world! I see that played out each year and am so wonderfully reminded of the special gift within. I get teary-eyed every year when I get to re-explain that because it is Jesus' birthday, a sweet old man in the North Pole gives a gift to every child in the world. And that it is why we give gifts to each other, and to strangers. It's why we sing songs and have parties. Nicolas definitely "gets" the magic of this season way more than most of us because we're just too busy. His pure passion for Christmas always slows me down enough to remember that Joy itself was born on Christmas Day.
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ The Lord....Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:10, 11 & 14