So This Is Christmas

by | Autism, Life, Parenting

As I enjoy the quiet of satisfied children sleeping after an exhausting day, I ponder the odd feeling that it just doesn’t seem like Christmas.
Unlike Charlie, otherwise known as “The Grinch” or “Scrooge” at this time of year, I love the festivities, gatherings and gift giving. I also must admit I even enjoy the countless days of Christmas music. Never mind my ever-lasting love of the lights, the Myers Windows, and decorations that glitter and glimmer up our city, bringing many in to enjoy them.
Something feels empty this year though. Like a piece of me has gone, I have to wonder if it’s because dad is no longer around to tell him how much he made Christmas special for me. He too loved the lights, the Myers windows and the fun festivities. He seemed to enjoy giving gifts too. I still remember one particular year where under dad’s tree was such a huge pile of presents, that it didn’t even look empty after the family dinner with the cousins. He never labelled any of the presents either, so my brother and I enjoyed a game of “whose present is this?” every second Year, when we spent the night before Christmas with dad.
I always enjoyed the magic that dad created. Not that mum didn’t play a part as well. She too enjoyed the festivities. She loved the shopping, wrapping and gift giving to all. Dad just held a certain magic with it. The sort of magic that makes me long for the childhood experience of Christmas, where it was all about fun, placing smiles on our faces, and spending time together.
The last Christmas I spent with dad, before I met Charlie, was so many years ago now. Since then, I believe we only managed one or two Christmases, with the last being when young Chip and Dale were just 6 months old. Given that, I didn’t really expect dad’s absence to be so deeply felt. Never mind that I’d barely even spoken with him last Christmas, as his health had taken a downturn. Maybe it’s having my brother around. After all, if I was with dad at Christmas, my brother was there too. He was there for all of my young experiences, and he was still there for my last Christmas with dad before I met Charlie. It’s lovely to have him back, but maybe that’s why I notice dad’s absence more.
Nonetheless, I feel his absence deeply, like a shadow over my joy. It wasn’t much better last year, as I burst into tears, knowing I couldn’t even manage to talk to him over the phone. Still… knowing he is gone this year has my heart more heavy.
In effort to prevent the shadow overtaking the joy of my lads, we celebrated Christmas with the usual level of pomp and circumstance. Under our tree was full to the brim with unlabelled presents. This year, they were surrounded by a Christmas tree train as well. An item 13 years in planning, that was finally done. Lights and decorations around the house. Family gatherings, and Christmas crackers with hats, bad jokes and silly little toys which were mostly tossed. None of the earlier activities to be outdone by the typical morning paper tearing and a trip to the Myers windows this evening.
We had less meltdowns this year, as we spent Christmas Day at home, plus restricted the family gatherings, as my health and energy levels also makes it difficult for me to cope with too many now. Charlie seemed content today, as did the boys mostly. Maybe it’s the calm that was weird. Previous years involved 3-4 exhausting meltdowns, 3-4 family gatherings, and the constant complaining from Grinch and the in-laws about the relentless uselessness of it all. This year has been more insulated from that, so for many reasons it was a better year.
Maybe my feelings of emptiness are partially from the lack of chaos, but I’m sure it’s more than that. I wish I’d thanked dad more for what he created for us. Mum too, but fortunately she’s still here to enjoy time with. It’s a bit odd how empty I feel this year. Within that, I also feel lucky. I’m living in a fully functioning, comfortable home. I’m a valued part of my family. My family are healthy and stable, happy within themselves. Life at home is becoming more harmonious. Despite my health being bad, I still see a slow increase in my strength and stamina.
I’m very aware this year of the many people out there experiencing Christmas alone, or without their partner, or worse still without their children. It isn’t a fun time for all. In fact, it can remind some people about how alone they are, or of what they have lost.
So in response to my difficult Christmas, and the emptiness in my heart, I open my heart to those who are homeless, devoid of family, unwell, or unseen and un-noticed in the world. I want to send love to anyone out there who is missing out on it. Because my heart is truly warmed by giving, and that is why I always loved Christmas so much.
I can’t touch the lives of every lonely person, but I can suggest one thing to do at Christmas: see someone that isn’t seen. Stop and talk to a person sleeping on the street. Have a coffee with a friend or relative who has no family to share Christmas with. Send a Christmas decoration to someone who has been sad. Make a phone call to check-in on someone you haven’t seen in a while. Call by to see a neighbour who doesn’t go out much. These are the gifts which warm the hearts of adults. This Is something I plan to do all year next year. Because it’s giving that fills holes in the heart.
How was your Christmas?

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