This Christmas season, I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’ve invited 24 authors to share some of their favorite things about the holidays. I hope you enjoy the 24 days of Christmas countdown with “These are a few of my Favorite Things.” Enjoy! ~Casey Hays
Christmas In Progress
First off, Happy Christmas Week! I can’t believe there’s only a few days left. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. It was much more than just a Holiday in our family. My Papa was ALL about Christmas. He made not just the day but the whole month extremely special. In our family, Christmas consisted of night time rides in our PJs looking at Christmas lights, The Nutcracker performance, a huge Christmas dinner and of course lots of presents. Santa was also a huge deal with my Papa. Every Christmas Eve we would hear the sleigh bells, and every morning, we would find that not only had Santa come and eaten all our cookies, but we would run out to see the deer tracks on the roof. Like I said, Christmas was a BIG deal. But it wasn’t the gifts that I remember as a child; it was the Magic of Christmas. Something about this month brings joy and giving. I don’t remember a single gift in all the memories I have of my family. It’s outings together that always made Christmas for me.
Fast forward to adulthood and now I have a family of my own and all these amazing traditions to uphold. The only problem is my sweet family is so much different than we were. Both of my kids are autistic, and my son has other special needs as well. They are the most amazing kids ever but not without limitations. My kids have a very hard time with crowds or groups of people. Any more than one or two people at a time can send them overboard. So, the huge family Christmas that has always been a staple in my life is terrifying for them. The idea of Santa and reindeer is completely lost on them. They’ve always hated gifts, like HATE them. Anything wrapped is a total trigger for my kids. I’m not sure if it’s the wrapping itself or the idea that they don’t know what’s inside that is so upsetting but gifts are just really not fun for them…or us.
So here we are in my favorite time of year with nothing but meltdowns and misery. The first few years we ended up leaving after only an hour or two, and I would feel so discouraged. Every year, we hoped it’d be better, but each year was the same until one year both kids came down with a really bad stomach flu, and we had to cancel Christmas last minute. We had no gifts, no food, not even a tree because everything was at my mom’s. We ran out to Walgreens, the only place that’s open on Christmas, and grabbed some pizza rolls, tater tots and chips. Then we rented some movies from the Redbox and spent the entire day snuggled in bed watching movies while my husband and I ate junk food. It was such a special time because my kids don’t like touch, they don’t like being in close proximity of each other, yet we all cuddled watching movies all day. It was the best gift I could have gotten.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Christmas isn’t about trying to keep the traditions of your childhood. It’s about creating new ones that work for where you are at in life now. The magic of Christmas is still there. It’s not in the gifts or music or any other thing; it’s just being there. It’s about family and taking a few moments of calm to appreciate and give thanks. Our Christmases these days look much different. My little ones have made so much progress, and we take each year as it comes. This year picking out a tree was just way too much for them and was a horrible meltdown but my daughter spent an hour decorating it with bows. I cried because this was the first thing that resembled my traditional Christmas, and it brought her joy.
This year is all about progress for us. We have a tree with actual decorations on it, we take nightly walks past the Christmas lights, and the kids find a new unwrapped gift each week somewhere in the house. It works for us, and I feel the magic in it. So, have a cup of cider and may you find the magic in the season.
To enter my Giveaway for a chance to win a set of my e-books, simply comment below with your favorite holiday breakfast! Mine? French Toast! Yum!
Jaci Wheeler lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband and two precious kids. Her love of literature began in Jr. High when she was introduced to Lowis Lowry’s books. Since then she has had a passion for writing Young Adult books, and creating strong female leads. When she’s not writing, she is advocating for Autism Awareness and involved in the deaf community. Her favorite things to do are play with her children, craft with her friends, sleep while her husband watches movies and indulge in her favorite addictions: Coffee, candy and shoes.
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