A Word to Parents: Christmas Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
WE SAW THE WATER DRIPPING DOWN THE STEPS OF THE GARAGE THE VERY MINUTE WE PULLED THE CAR INTO ITS SPACE.
NEVER a good thing to see.
Turns out we had had a flood while we were at my in-laws house for Christmas day dinner. Well, not a flood exactly just a washing machine hose that burst and continued to squirt water for, what we estimate, was 3 hours. In any event, we had such a huge mess when we opened the door.
Our Christmas night did not turn out, in any way, the way we had hoped. I can remember talking to John, some 4 hours later that night, about how great Christmas day was. I know that sounds really absurd given the fact that we had huge blower fans running, a dead washing machine and who knows what else was soaked. But I truly felt that way….Truly.
LET ME EXPLAIN.
I got up that morning to begin our Christmas morning traditions. The required early morning picture of the children before the gifts are opened. The candy canes being eaten before any other food hits their stomachs, the present opening, more pictures, a family breakfast and then time to relax or really look at all the gifts.
As I was getting it all going, I wondered how Elizabeth would do today. I know as parents of special needs children, everyone who has a special child in their lives will understand this.
I wondered if she would be too tired from the night before to handle all the “everything” that this morning brings. I knew she was getting older, but still her disorders of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Dyspraxia do not quit. So I wondered:
Would she cry?
Not really participate?
Truthfully, we have had them all. And we have done our best to make the morning fun for Emily and Michael all the while supporting Elizabeth and her needs.
So as I readied myself for the morning, John, my husband, heads upstairs to give the kids the green flag to start the day. We beg them, and truly almost on bended knee, to stay upstairs until we have things really ready to go. Read: coffee and camera ready.
SO DOWN THEY COME… AND ELIZABETH IS SMILING.
She and Emily came into the living room and saw the gifts. Elizabeth sat down and we all took turns opening them. She smiled for pictures, tried on the clothes she got, put on a Santa hat and danced with Emily when we put music on. She had a great time at breakfast and then relaxed until we had to get ready to go.
It did not stop here, she was calm and organized the entire day. Laughing, smiling, opening more gifts as we visited family. She truly had a wonderful, happy day.
It was amazing. As we were headed home from spending the day with John’s family, he and I talked about how far Elizabeth has come in life and how great it is to see her enjoying things and events that previously would have made her anxious, upset and overloaded. We took that good that day and tucked it in our hearts.
AND THEN WE OPENED THE GARAGE DOOR…
So my message or thought of this whole blog, is that the holiday does not have to be perfect to be good.
That what you do is what works for your family and their needs.
That maybe opening one gift – not ten – for your special needs child is success.
THAT BUILDING IN A BREAK TIME WHEN OTHERS WANT TO KEEP GOING IS HOW YOU GET THROUGH THE DAY.
That perfect simply does not exist.
That finding the good and holding it tight is what you do.
That seeing all the things your child does this year for the first time, makes your heart rejoice.
Those are the things that make the holiday all is should be.
Those are my Hallmark moments.
I am all about making memories, tucking them in my heart and knowing our holiday traditions fit us and our needs. I am about rejoicing in the gift of this special child and seeing her enjoy the world, in whatever way that it may be.
So, back to the flood… amidst all the chaos in my house, my heart was so very happy. What a wonderful Christmas that we all enjoyed together and by all, I mean ALL! Because it does not have to be perfect to be great.
I offer this thought…
PLEASE DO NOT LET THE WORLD MAKE YOU FEEL LESS THAN.
I hope these words help someone today.
I wish everyone a blessed holiday season and I hope millions of good memories are made!
Michele Gianetti is a mom of three, registered nurse, and published author (“I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey,” “Emily’s Sister“). She writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.