We treated Christmas Day as we do any other Sunday. Of course, I admit this was not intentional. It’s not that we “missed” Christmas, but J had an early morning meltdown and we decided to turn the dial down and do Sunday as Sunday is usually done. After about an hour of pure, unadulterated, overwhelming strife, J calmed down and we threw a little Christmas in here, and then a little Christmas in there until we had a nice Christmas dinner that passed for Sunday dinner.
Yesterday we braved the “Boxing Day crowds” that amounted to two people ahead of us at Target, and three at the arts and crafts store. The line behind us at each store was non-existent. All the chaos witnessed in other necks of other woods was absolutely absent at the time we left the house, and J was happy and he came home to relax.
The Christmas morning meltdown is easy to understand. Dada had been home since Wednesday evening, a mini-vacation, and J was confused. On Thursday morning we went for a medical appointment (mine,) and then for a very small bit of shopping at the grocery store. On Friday we went to the movies. We watched Rogue One. J leaned back on his chair, munched on his popcorn, and smiled contentedly. He just enjoyed the notion of being at the movies. On Saturday we went out for a bit, and then TGG came with his family.
This was the first thing to throw J off. He didn’t leave his room, but TGG went in with the kids, and that was out of J’s comfort zone. We had a quiet Christmas Eve with our Twelfth Day presents, and then we went to bed.
Christmas morning didn’t have chiming bells. It had a growl overheard through the baby monitor. Then we heard the thumping. We did our best to defuse the situation, but meltdowns have to run their course, and this one took a while. By noon we had sort of evened our keels, and the rest of the day seemed better.
Today Dada went back to work, and J and I started putting away the Christmas tree ornaments, the lights, and the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Charlie Brown Christmas accoutrements. The Christmas tree forest, the village, the train tracks (which have grown and grown) remain. The rest is slowly being reeled in to make way for the New Year, and to make way for the Three Kings’ Day tradition.
I’m sure this portion of the year will be a bit of a slippery slope. The holidays overwhelm just about everyone. They also depress a lot of people. We are doing our best to help J cope with the anxiety he might be feeling. We understand that, irrational as it may be, he has trouble seeing TGG with a family of his own, and we can try to help him understand, but that doesn’t mean he will be able to maneuver through the emotions with ease. The best we can do is try. The best we can hope for is increasing degrees of success.
So we work on helping him, and helping ourselves in the process. Now that the actual Christmas holiday is over, we can start taking things back to the daily routine that soothes him, and make adjustments from there. He was happy today gathering up the tree lights and putting them away in the new storage box we bought. The little tree (ok…the branches cut off from this one) in his room will go away today, too. He might want to keep the lights, and we’re fine with that. Light seems to be a soothing thing for J…especially when he can control it.
J was happy with his presents. He tried taking some of ours, but we managed to prevent him from achieving his purpose. He enjoyed helping in the kitchen. He had fun with the tree and the lights. He liked (LOVED!) decorating a gingerbread house. He stole some of the candy, but that was to be expected. All in all, aside from being overwhelmed at a certain point, he did great, and he had fun.
But we learn something new every year. We figure something out with each passing holiday season, each run-of-the-mill month and day. We are in a perpetual state of learning what we need to improve or change. Yesterday, little clearance-shopper that I am, I found a little paper mache cabinet that has 25 drawers…and I will decorate it, and in each little drawer I will put an activity of each day leading up to Christmas next year. I will mark the days when Dada will be home. I will put little things that J can enjoy…a movie to watch, a craft to make, a task to complete to get us ready for Christmas. You’ll see…I’ve figured out that some of the randomness of the season upsets him, and I will work on giving him a whole set of anchors to choose from. That’s my goal, anyway.
We have plans for 2017. We are hopeful that they will come to fruition, and that J will benefit from them. For the moment, this last gasp of 2016, we try to organize our little household to advantage for all. We try to slip into the usual routine so our boy can have his center… That his center (and ours) is slightly off-center is fine. The important part is that there is a center…regardless of where it is. That’s goal. That’s the aim. That’s the all-important purpose of this game we play day after day.
We survived Twelve Days…a little bruised, a little humbled, but we survived. Our little ragtag band of desperadoes has pulled off another holiday, and is getting ready for the next, and the one after. It’s all we can do. It’s all anyone can do.
And off I go to more chores supervised by (who am I kidding, right? HE is the boss) J.