As you might expect, Christmas is a time of year that children love. My kids are no exception – and being ASD, they expect certain things.
A while back, TOH and I came up with our own Midwinter Festival which we call “Satyulemas” – this starts on the 17th December (Saturnalia), takes in Yule on the 21st (Astronomical Midwinter) and covers Christmas on the 25th Dec, then finishes the day after PW’s birthday.
We always have Advent Calendars – not just because the children expect them, but because it doesn’t feel right without them. There is one calendar that we have every year and it’s a reminder of the only family holiday to Disneyland Paris we have ever been able to afford.
Our tree goes up on the first day of Satyulemas (yes, that’s today) and it has decorations that mean something to us – some came from that same family holiday, others were bought for the older children by TOH’s Mum before she died, or they’ve been made by the children themselves. Again, this isn’t unusual – many families do the same thing.
I watch a lot of food programmes all year (it’s gentle, soothing TV, even if it does make me feel hungry) but my favourite food programmes go mad on Christmas, so I can enjoy all the sights of christmas without having to actually go and do it. I can also pick up tips to make our christmas dinner tastier – my kids are more likely to try new things at this time of year, so I take advantage of it.
We always have a roast dinner on Christmas Day – in lean years it’s just a large chicken, in years when we have more money, we might have turkey or venison – and I tend to go seriously overboard on portions.
I always make sure that we have different cheeses, ham and various pickles around and we have to have a Cracker selection box. We usually have a cake of some kind in the cupboard and we always have Mince Pies, Scottish Shortbread and a box of Sweets of varying types.
It sounds like a lot, but compared to what some people on Social Media talk about buying, it’s very little. For us, the majority of whatever money we have is spent on the Children’s gifts.
We don’t have a lot of friends and in recent years, we’ve been unable to visit our geographically closest family, so our celebrations are very quiet and simple which suits TOH, NOS and I perfectly, even if it doesn’t satisfy PT & PW’s need for people and noise… so I always make sure that they get to go to some kind of party.
And that’s our Christmas…
This time of year is both brilliant and terrible for Autistic people, whether we’re talking adults or children.
On the Brilliant Side, they can stick to their own routines and eat what they like without looking out of place. They can do exactly what they like because everyone is doing the same thing.
The food and drink tends to be of the traditional, comforting sort with very few surprising flavours or smells. So no matter where you go, you’ll find something that you can eat.
The small talk is of present buying, food, weather and christmas stories – easy to anticipate and get involved with on an adhoc basis.
On the Terrible Side, it’s also the time of year that people are expected to be more social and express happiness visibly. There’s the Christmas Parties and Carol Concerts that (if you have a lot of friends or are of a particular religion) you are expected to attend, the overly loud music, too many people who are making an obvious effort to talk to each other and have “fun” and are pretty much doing it as loudly as they can, to get over the music.
You’re expected to go present shopping in places that are normally brightly lit and have added flashing coloured lights and shiny decorations ; stuffed full of people; the noise of christmas carols being sung by choirs of varying skill, mixing with the ever present christmas mix tape full of old christmas number ones at different places that blare out of the individual shops and people shouting over the top of it all; add into that cacophony the smells – body and breath odour, perfume, wafting coffee, cake and alcohol, the scent that shops use to cover it, not to mention the lovely smells that come out of shops like Lush, Boots, Body Shop…
Feeling sick yet? Internet shopping is a godsend to those of us who suffer with Sensory Problems.
As you can see Christmas isn’t always the fun and enjoyable celebration that Allistic and Non-Neurodivergent people think it is, especially as the world is set up for Extroverts not Introverts.