I feel as if Christmas snuck up on us this year. One minute we were having turkey and stuffing, and the next TBS was touting their 24-hour A CHRISTMAS STORY marathon. I bought gifts throughout the month, so I didn’t have to mad-dash at the end. Hubz wrapped the gifts on his first day of vacation while the boys were still in school. We attended several holiday-themed gatherings, and yet, it just didn’t “feel” like Christmas. But, last week, there it was…looming large.
I used to get nervous about the holiday hub-bub. I was very concerned about what others would think or say about Tate and his behaviors. I tried too often to shove him into a “typical” role of a child at Christmas. Now that we better understand Tate and his stressors, we have been able to hedge some of the anxiety and go into the holiday with realistic expectations.
Our Christmas went quite well this year. We started our celebrations last Saturday. My dad hosted the holiday, and we enjoyed a very laid back appetizer “meal”. Appetizer choices were perfect for our family. There literally was something for everyone. Our boys had to wait a while after our arrival to open presents. They handled it quite well. Luckily my dad turned one of the bedrooms into a play room, so the boys spent a nice chunk of time upstairs playing. Tate saddled up to the kitchen sink and calmed himself down with the water. He was able to let it go when his time was up, and for that, I am grateful.
My family was incredibly generous. The boys were showered with several gifts. Tate got a playdoh set from my sister, Auntie K. It is still one of his favorites. It’s the one that makes gumballs and other candy items. He got Hungry Hippos from my other sister. While he struggles to play it according to the directions, he and his brothers have gotten much use out of it in the week that we’ve owned it. My dad went overboard–as usual. The boys got tons of toys…all were on their wish lists. My dad got Tate 24 pounds of playdoh. Yes, 24 POUNDS of playdoh. I didn’t realize that playdoh could be purchased in 6-pound tubs…but it can! Cole’s preschool and Tate’s OT will be benefactors of some of said playdoh. We can’t possibly use all of that.
Jake got a Skylander Giants figure from my one sister, and a Wreck-it Ralph figure from the other. He loves both. If you’ve never heard of Skylander Giants, be grateful. A marketing genius created this game. There is a portal…and kids can collect all these super-cool figures and BE the figure in the game, as long as said figure is placed on the portal. It’s right up Jake’s alley–with the fantasy aspect, and animal-like nature of the figures…right now he wants to collect as many figures as possible. Hubz and I are just trying to get him to play the actual game once in a while before we have a small army of Skylander Giants ruling our house.
Cole got a Transformer set (bot-shots…small and perfect for 3 year olds) and some Legos. His life was complete. He carried those around as if his life depended upon it.
In all honesty, with the goodies we received from my family, our Christmas could have been complete. However, Christmas hadn’t even officially arrived, and so, the boys had many, many more treasures waiting for them. In our house, Santa brings everything. I know, I know…that kind of perpetuates the whole greedy thing with Santa…and we don’t get any credit, but oh well…that’s just how we have done it since Jake was born. All three boys still believe in Santa, and I really enjoyed our celebration this year, because I don’t know how much longer Jake will fully believe in the magic.
When the boys woke up on Christmas morning, a veritable cornucopia of presents awaited them. Each had a pile of gifts. Santa listened to our boys’ wishes. Jake got his Lego Spongebob Super hero set. And a stuffed sloth. And Angry Bird Star Wars. Tate got Doc McStuffins and Lambie. He got a Lego set with a stoplight. He got books with Max & Ruby and Team Umizoomi. Cole got the Lego Mine Set. He got some blocks. And of course, some Transformer “dudes”. Each of the boys were incredibly excited about their gifts. Tate readily opened gifts this year…and got excited about many of them.
When Tate opened the Doc and Lambie set, he was so excited and completely overcome with emotion. He had to excuse himself to the bathroom–twice–to compose himself. Once he did, he sat in a little corner in our living room behind our big overstuffed chair. He needed that alone time with his dolls to absorb the amazement and fabulousness that were Doc and Lambie. He shared his private moments and then was able to carry on with our holiday. Our other boys let him be. They knew what he needed. Hubz and I let him be. We knew what he needed. In that moment, our Christmas was complete.
Later that day we went to Hubz’s sister’s house for Hubz’s family celebration. It went amazingly well. For the first time, like, ever, Tate sat with his brothers and cousins at the kids’ table. He didn’t eat, really, but he socialized. He laughed with them. They talked, excitedly, about what presents were waiting for them later. It was terrific. We adults were able to sit and eat and talk..and now that the kids are a little older, we didn’t have to be monitoring their every.single.move.
After dinner was cleared away, we congregated for presents. Tate had some anxious energy, but he handled it relatively well. He did try to “squish” his brothers a few times…and his older cousin once, but other than that, he self-soothed. He also offered to help Hubz’s mom be “Santa”! Tate can read names…or well, he could fill in the blanks. Like, he wasn’t sure about my niece’s name, but he rationalized it out…with process of elimination. He saw a gift “To Lisa”, and handed it to me, “This is yours…mom.” I was doing the dance of joy inside.
Midway through the gifts, Tate needed a break. It was loud. There was a lot of commotion. It was not a routine day, what-so-ever. He came up to me and asked me to “sit on him”. Please be aware that I didn’t sit on my son…but he did sit behind me, and I leaned back to give him some deep pressure that he required to regulate. After the pressure, and a little bouncing to get some input, Tate was off again. He happily opened his gifts and showed them off. This was new. In big family gatherings, opening gifts has been very difficult for Tate. We were proud of his ability to stay with the group.
Our boys did very well with the rest of our family time. They said goodbyes and thank-you’s appropriately. They hugged their aunts, uncles and grandparents. They allowed themselves to be hugged and kissed. We let it be as organic as possible…with the occasional prompt to say “thank you”.
The past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but we have made it through. We had some ups and downs through the entire process, but we were able to make it through all of our celebrations meltdown-free. The greatest amount of progress with both of our older boys has been that they really seem to know when enough is enough…Tate has a harder time letting us know it, but thankfully we know him well enough to usually head off a meltdown before it begins.
This progress…this is the best gift I could have asked for this year. It gives me hope.