As much as Tristan loves the holidays it does bring a bag of anxieties that we need to sort out like relatives wanting to chat with him about school and all he wants is to discuss the Star Wars movies while hiding behind me. Not to mention the hugging and kissing. I think Tristan wants to participate in the ritual of affection, but has a difficult time crossing over from wanting to doing. While his brothers bounce from one lap to another giving-out hugs and kisses freely, Tristan usually sticks close to my side guarding against any surprise attacks.
We have made improvements in the last few years, I remember one family celebration that Tristan spent the entire evening under a serving table and when anyone came near he would fend off the advances with a kick. That was before Tristan really had any meaningful communication and before his sensory system was regulated.
Now we have strategies:
- We try and down play the holidays because the build-up to the event can cause more anxiety then needed. One year, Peter and I did not tell Tristan it was Christmas until the night before.
- We scale back on all the family gatherings and everyone is invited to our house on Christmas day so that Tristan has all his supports.
- Unless the kids bring up Christmas we don't really talk about it.
- We don't have a TV, so our kids don't get all the commercials about Christmas.
In the end we try to enjoy all the rituals leading up to the holiday season like hiking and finding the perfect tree to cut down and bring home or the stringing of our outdoor lights. We create little events throughout the two months that are just as exciting and special, but have less stress involved.