Wifey and I did pretty ok with the holidays the past 2 years. We bought the tree early, I got the outside decorations up early, we got tons of our shopping done early, and we even got our holiday photo cards out a week before Christmas where we usually get them out on 12/26 or later. ;)
We've had a pretty good holiday season.
And after 11 years I feel like we've finally figured out what parts of the holiday traditions we can do away with because of autism (and epilepsy) and what holiday traditions must stay / are non-negotiable regardless of how hard they are on Kyle. Here's some examples.
1) Wifey grew up with a real tree and she wants a real tree and she wants to decorate the tree.
So we drag Kyle to pick out a real tree every year and he deals with it ok depending on the year or the weather, but he's got to suck it up...getting a real tree is a non negotiable.
And putting lights and decorations on that tree is a fav activity for wifey so we will redirect (ie yell at Kyle :) 5000 times if necessary to stop eating the tree.
But the idea of your kid helping decorate the tree? That's a tradition that we did away with since he never showed any interest.
2) Visiting Santa, getting a pic with Santa? We gladly and without hesitation gave up that tradition a LONG time ago. Kyle doesn't get Santa & we never got a good pic...although last year we got a decent shot with Kyle and Santa at a special needs holiday party went to. That Santa was extremely patient... :)
3) Getting out a holiday card with a good pic of Kyle is a non-negotiable. It's happening.
But what we did tweak was we gave up trying to get a holiday shot of Kyle in front of our tree or in an Xmas sweater.
For years we'd have an Xmas photo session with Kyle. We'd plop him in front of the tree in a festive outfit and he obviously wouldn't cooperate or look in the camera or anything. We'd literally take hundreds of pics looking for one good one.
And the whole process from the pic taking to the pouring over the pics on the computer was exhausting. So for the past 2 years we look through our pics throughout the year from our iPhones and pick out the best 4-5 that capture the essence of Kyle and pick out a collage style card and be done with it. This year we got 3 pics of Kyle on the beach during the summer cuz that is his element. ;)
4) Christmas Eve
Since we got married in '97 Xmas Eve was always at our house. Long story as to why but it just is. It's tradition. :)
And wifey and I both come predominantly from Italian roots. And with Italians Xmas Eve is the fish holiday. Don't know why. It just is. It's a tradition.
Some Italians say the tradition is that you're supposed to make 7 different fishes.
Wifey never followed that 7 fish craziness but she did cook fish.
Xmas Eve was always pretty mellow. Just her folks and my folks coming over for dinner for lots of different fish dishes.
Now I don't like fish. Neither did my dad. So there'd always have to be a non fish dish for us heathens. :)
Anyway the Xmas Eve tradition of wifey cooking fish carried on for years...even after Kyle was born and then after Kyle became the crazy autism king y'all know and love.
Wifey was always slaving away making fish dishes in our small kitchen. And most of the fish that she made was the kinda stuff that you couldn’t make way in advance. (Lobster tails, shrimp, crab legs). So Xmas Eve especially after king Kyle was always a high wire act of cooking and sweating and stressing out.
Then about 4 years ago we invited one of our good friends from high school to join for Xmas Eve dinner with her husband and her 2 autistic sons.
And that added another level of difficulty to the proceedings. Not because any of the ASD kids were really any trouble, but mainly because like many autism families who are in tuned with their kids... they had maybe a 2-3 hour window maximum and then they had to leave before their kids melted down.
And wifey would be slaving in the kitchen with crab legs boiling and not really getting to spend any time with her best friend and family who she only gets to see maybe 2-3 times per year.
So 3 years ago during the Xmas Eve proceedings she called me into the kitchen. And with her hair all frizzy and mascara running due to being in a hot steamy kitchen for hours she said to me "I'm never doing this again. Next year we're ordering take out. Your choice."
And I said "Outback Steakhouse!"
So 2 years ago we threw the fish tradition out the window and ordered from outback. And it was a lot more relaxed for us. Our folks seemed to be ok with it to. Many of them ordered fish dishes anyway.
And last year we did it even better and got it catered from an awesome local Italian deli (chicken francese, pasta with broccoli rabe, etc). And we sent it all up buffet style in our kitchen with paper plates and said "serve yourselves" and wifey and I got to spend a lot more quality time with our friends before they had to bolt. So we broke the fish tradition. And everyone seems to be ok with it although who knows what our parents say behind our backs. LOL :)
5) Making Kyle open presents. That tradition died a long time ago. We gave it up. He's got no interest. So when someone hands us a gift for him we'll open it for him and try to make a big fuss, but we pretty much leave Kyle out of it.
And Christmas morning there's not a big gift opening at our house. Since he doesn't get Santa he gets lots of gifts along the way from us and others but there's not a big Xmas morning gift opening.