Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

It’s almost the most stressful time of the year (some people refer to it as wonderful). My relationship with the holidays has gotten much less hate and more love the older I’ve gotten. There are still a few traditions around the holidays that I don’t understand. If any of you neurotypical readers can explain them and why people seem to enjoy them, please do explain. I will take all the information I can get. Some of these traditions are specific to my family and I know are not observed in other families.

The first observation I have is that no one in my family seems to like start and end times for events. I can remember as a child asking what time everyone would be arriving and leaving. My parents would look at me like I’d sprouted feathers. There was always a time “they were asked to arrive by”. Very few ever arrived on time and there was never any end time. Five hours later the adults would be nursing a second cup of decaf and just getting into the political discussions. I know I am a fast eater, but in what world does it take anyone five hours to complete a three-course meal? I want to be clear, I love my extended family. I have many happy memories with them through the years and I’ve learned a lot from them collectively and individually. This does not mean I have the bandwidth to spend hours upon hours on end in their company. I am extremely sensitive to noise and several of my family members have trouble regulating their volume. After hour two, I’m ready to have some peace. I am a firm believer that to be clear is to be kind. Set expectations on the front end so people know what to expect. 

I read on a different blog written by someone on the spectrum that mentioned my second pet peeve. People tell me to figure out what they would like as a present and that since i’ve known them x number of years, i should be able to pick out the perfect gift. I now have a rule that if you do not tell me what you want exactly, i don’t get presents when i don’t know what to get. I don’t want to waste my time and money getting something you won’t use. I’m sure you don’t want to spend your time returning a gift you don’t want. If you want to be surprised, give me a list with several options and I’ll pick off the list. The more specific you are, the better. All hail the Amazon Wishlist. 

There is no correct way to celebrate the holidays. Just because one family has hosted year after year doesn’t mean that family should or will continue to host for years to come. Just because you’ve always eaten the same food on Christmas Day, that is likely to change over the years. What I would advise is before changing traditions, be sure everyone has been included in the decision to the best of your ability. My family had a tradition of going out to a certain restaurant every year. A few years ago, everyone else decided they wanted something different. I found out when my mom and sister arrived with takeout and declared this is what was for dinner. I’m going, to be honest, and say I did like the place we went traditionally. What made me angry wasn’t that,t we were eating different food, it was no one told or even asked me. It would’ve been helpful to look at the menu and decide what I would’ve liked to eat. Instead, food appeared. I couldn’t eat for a host of sensory reasons and my family was exasperated with me. I ask that you let me know when plans change so I can adjust accordingly. 

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to practice being in control of your own ecosystem. As much control as you can exert over having a safe space as possible. Go for walks and sleep when you need to. Self-care is the first step to enjoying the holidays.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: