Santa Claus is coming to town…hurray!
I LOVE Christmas. Absolutely adore it. I believe in the spirit of Christmas. Not only the religious aspect but the goodwill that it instills in most people. The joy on children’s faces and adults alike.
Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of things that I don’t like. I don’t like the consumerism, the grouchy grumps who make it their mission to make their Christmas miserable, I hate the traffic and the queues and the mad shopping urges that take over the general public.
But I love the Christmas lights (yes mine go up at the beginning of December)….there’s something entirely magical about driving home and seeing the streets sparkling for a common reason. The Nativity story is one I adore. I’m not overly religious but I did go to church and Sunday school for a time and my mum was a Sunday school teacher. She instilled in us the true meaning of Christmas.
What I love more than anything else is the build up…the excitement and joy.
And this is where today I struggle.
My house is *cough* tastefully decorated and daubed with Christmas paraphenalia.
The presents are nearly all bought and wrapped.
I’m excited about two in particular and to see the recipients pleasure (hopefully) in their gifts. A little thought goes a long way, I find.
But today’s struggle is with my acceptance that Evie struggles with certain aspects of Christmas. Whilst she loves the decorations, the food, the movies, Buddy the Elf, there are areas that she can’t manage.
I succumbed a couple of years ago to the cliché that is ‘Elf on the Shelf’. I undoubtedly enjoy the Elf more than the girls do. I am your stereotypical Pinterest mum in that regard. But the girls do love to see where Buddy is the next day…it’s now part of our Christmas tradition and I LOVE that. As soon as they wake, they both ask “where’s Buddy” and we have to go and look for him. I love the game and their excitement.
But Evie can’t cope with much of the sensory overload. We’ve tried on many occasions to see Santa at shopping stores and at her school fayre. We have managed it once only when she was a tiny baby. Since then it has been a failure on epic proportions time and again.
We’ve been to our local town Christmas lights switch on a couple of times, but now don’t go as Evie simply can’t cope with it. Too many people, too much noise, it’s dark, there are Christmas lights, rides, music, different smells of food cooking…just too much. Now we know she can’t manage it, perhaps in years to come we’ll be there.
Evie has also been really struggling with anxiety for the last two months. This we think is linked to a medical issue and we hope to resolve it. It’s terrible to see and as a parent I feel so helpless. Useless. And I cry for her as I hate that I can’t help other than to try to reassure. Add this to her sleeping issues and it’s tough on her.
We live in small village in England. It’s a beautiful place and I feel so fortunate to live here. Every year the local Round Table and Scouts put on a Santa Sleigh that travels around the village fundraising for local causes. The sleigh obviously has Santa and his reindeer but also loud Christmas music, flashing lights and dozens of scouts collecting money. This year I’d been preparing Evie again. As I do every year. I had her ear defenders ready…as soon as she hears the Christmas music coming down the street cue meltdown.
Now peeps there is a huge difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. Here’s a handy graphic….
Let me tell you when a meltdown strikes, it’s horrid. You feel as a parent clueless to help. You can try all of the calming techniques that you know and still the meltdown carries on.
I want so much for Evie to be able to enjoy every aspect of Christmas. I know that this behaviour is linked to her sensory processing disorder and perhaps exacerbated by her medical issues. And it hurts my heart to see her so distressed. I hate that something so magical, something that should bring such joy, brings mainly fear, tears and panic.
Eventually I managed to coerce her to wave to Santa out of her bedroom window with her ear defenders firmly in place. She remained there while her sister and I went to the front door to take a closer look. As I went upstairs as Santa was leaving our Close, I watch Evie waving and shouting “Bye Santa, bye!”…then turning to me…”I’m brave Mummy, tell Daddy, I’m brave.”
Yes she was. She is brave. She’s one of the bravest children I know. And she tries her very best, making baby steps of progress. One day I know she’ll be out there, waving on the driveway to Santa…her time will come. And when that time comes we will go to every Christmas market going, every pantomime, shopping centres will have our feet trampling though the stores, we’ll be at every single screening of Christmas films in the cinema.
It often feels like we shut her and ourselves away. I’m sure to outsiders it may look like that. But we do what we have to make sure that Evie is happy and can cope. Little by little we chip away at sensory issues…and we are making progress. We are. In the meantime we enjoy Christmas in the format we know that she’ll enjoy.
And if Evie is happy then so are we.