I absolutely love holidays. Or at least I love the thought of them. And I love how they used to be.
I fondly remember Christmas when I was growing up. We always set up two trees – one in the basement by the fireplace and one in our living room. The living room tree was our formal tree, aka where the purchased ornaments went and the tree Santa delivered gifts to. The downstairs tree was home to all the ornaments we made at school or girl scouts or just at home with our crafty mom.
I can’t remember if it happened every year, but my sister (Elaine), my dad and I would sleep on the sleeper sofa in the basement by the fireplace. That’s where we’d leave out treats for Santa and his reindeer and where the beautiful stockings our mom made were hung. I can only assume that mom was helping Santa out with the perfect gift placement under the tree upstairs. Elaine would always wake first; we’d grab our goody filled stockings and head upstairs to take turns opening gifts.
Even after my parents divorced, I think I was 8, we still had memorable celebrations for the holidays – my mom always made sure of that.
For Easter, my favorite holiday, my mom would track flour bunny prints to our Easter baskets and develop elaborate egg hunts outside. She would gather all 20+ bunny plushes from throughout the house and place them on the couch for a photo opp. And every holiday included Christmas Morning Rolls – it didn’t have to be Christmas.
Now, in adulthood, I still want to celebrate, but there are just too many obstacles.
- Kenny could really care less. Sometimes he humors me by taking part (if I beg) but who wants to beg someone to enjoy a holiday with them? Who wants to feel like by asking them to participate you’re more or less asking them to clean the bathroom.
- Lennon is oblivious. He doesn’t know who Santa is or who the Easter Bunny is. He wouldn’t know to hunt for a basket or even how to open a gift if we didn’t do hand over hand. Trick or Treating would probably just bring out aggression and meltdowns when any given house didn’t give him their entire supply of candy.
When Lennon was initially diagnosed with autism I was told that it was okay to grieve. Grieve that life might not be easy for him. Grieve the childhood I thought he’d have. Grieve the motherhood I thought I’d have. And now I find myself grieving the holidays that I don’t get to celebrate normally.
While I’m sure there will come a day when we celebrate Easter and Halloween and Christmas and all those other holidays in our own special way, for now I’m bitter. I’m bitter because it all just feels so pointless.
Why hide an Easter basket you know he won’t find?
Why paint Easter eggs when it will be Lennon fighting a hand over hand task every step of the way?
Why prepare a special meal when Kenny will just eat it in his office and Lennon won’t eat it at all because it isn’t one of his preferred foods?
Why decorate when decor will be thrown off of shelves and torn off of walls?
It just sucks.
And this year being in quarantine has made it so much worse.
It’s worse because I don’t have a dsitraction, a distraction from a home celebration.
I always try to do something for holidays – more recently, events that cater to differently-abled children. I know we’d all like to think that people are accepting of certain behaviors in this day and age, but the truth is, they aren’t. People stare, people comment, people judge. It’s just so much easier to enjoy the day when you are in environments that feel more inclusive.
For Easter 2018 we went to a picnic at Mountain’s Edge with some friends. It’s neat to see how Lennon seems to look where I point in this video – he doesn’t do that anymore.
The last time we celebrated Thanksgiving was in 2018. And even though I hate Thanksgiving (the whole history of it and the fact that their are no gifts – LOL) it was one of my favorite celebrations. At meal time I brought out a Giving Thanks Tree. Kenny and I took turns writing something we were grateful for on each of the leaves and putting it on the tree. Lennon of course got his hands on it and broke it a few days later, but in that moment it was something pretty special to me.
Last year for Easter (2019) we went to a special event for kids with autism at Tivoli Village. They had a fenced in area for kids to hunt for Easter eggs. Kids were given a time slot based on age and what time they arrived. I walked around hunting eggs with Lennon. Mind you, they weren’t really hidden, just a mass of eggs laying on the ground. The moment he would spot one he’d grab it (excellent hunting) but instead of putting it in his basket he would throw it over the fence. We eventually had a nice gentleman track us from the other side who would toss eggs back in every time Lennon threw one out. It was actually pretty fun.
Last year for Halloween we enjoyed an event through Zappos for children on the spectrum. Lennon had an amazing time – he enjoyed the bounce house and developed an affinity for pumpkins.
The only way we celebrate something at home any more is if my mom is visiting. We’ll make a meal together. And even though she joined us last Christmas, I was still sad. Lennon had broken half the ornaments (Thunderpaws helped too) and I found myself in a funk. I even cancelled our family pictures – I told Santa and our photographer Lennon was sick, but honestly, I was just really depressed. I don’t know what I would have done if my mom wasn’t there last year for Christmas, probably cried a lot more.
This year I didn’t have the distraction of an event to go to or my mom visiting. It was just us at home. No decor, no special meal, no egg dying, and no egg hunt. And I guess it just is what it is, but that doesn’t make it suck any less.
Especially when Easter used to be your favorite holiday and now it’s just another day.
I probably shouldn’t give in so easily. I should decorate, I should make a meal, I should do themed activities. It’s just hard to find that motivation any more. I just need to do it anyways.
So, today I will grieve the Easters I want.
And tomorrow, tomorrow I will make plans to be happy and celebrate holidays in the future.