Sunday, December 29, 2013

Canceling Christmas

Christmas day was...difficult here. We had my family over because I knew K would probably need a break, or 7, and because my sister-in-law is visiting from Germany. I figured it would be more comfortable for her to say here.

The day started out fine. The kids got up around 8am, which is preferred over the 5am wake up call my sister and I used to give our parents. Present opening went well. The kids were excited over everything Santa brought, and it looked to be a good day.

Now, because we have the worst timing ever, we are currently redoing our family room. It is the big room that sits over our garage, that is great when we are hosting a lot of people. The other rooms in our house are small, and right now, really crowded. We moved our TV to the "library" (the room that holds our IKEA bookcases, which we have tried to fancy up by referring to as the "library"), and the furniture in the library has been moved around so that the recliner is pretty much sitting on top of the couch. Add the Christmas tree we usually have in the family room, a couple end tables, and too many presents, and there is about a square foot of actual "moving around" space.

We thought the family room would be complete by Christmas, but our new floors got in late, and when your husband is doing all the work himself, while, you know, holding down a full-time job, things don't get done quickly.

I started to regret offering to host, because a lot of us were going to be squished into this one small room, but I figured people could spread out in the kitchen and dining room during non-gift-opening-time, and so things would be OK. Plus, we do have a playroom upstairs which I figured we could banish the children to for most of the day.

I knew the day might be hard, but I hoped for the best. K is easily overwhelmed, but there are times she rallies and is fine. I never want to go in with a negative attitude. Why wouldn't I give my kid the benefit of the doubt, right? Too often I think we set our kids up for failure because we expect failure, and I never want to expect my children to fail. That's just not fair to them.

Things started to get sticky when my youngest sister was late showing up. Like, 30 minutes late. Not  a big deal to most, but to a kid who is waiting to open gifts, and who can't understand why we have to wait for everyone to be here, it's torture.

And so the anxiety began.

Unfortunately, with K, when the anxiety begins, it doesn't really stop. Especially not when there are hoards of people at her house. It built up and up until she started announcing that she was "CANCELING CHRISTMAS".

I forget what the final trigger was, but she was d-o-n-e, DONE. Similar to when we went out to eat last weekend, and after getting upset about the type of cup she was given, she stood up and announced that the restaurant was going to be shut down. She does not care who is around. She seems not to notice. When her anxiety? Upset-ed-ness? peaks, she picks a phrase and goes with it. Over, and over.

And over.

I'm sure some of you can relate.

Thankfully we were at home, so announcing that Christmas was canceled wasn't that big of a deal. We didn't have to quickly make an escape anywhere, and my family gets it, and tries to find the humor in it (not laughing AT her, don't mistake me for saying that. I just mean instead of falling into the pit of despair, we all take what she says in stride, and move on. You can't live in big deal world and survive, if you get what I mean. I know people who live in big deal world, where everything is a big deal, and very dramatic. That's is just not sustainable for my own mental health.)

Eventually, K was distracted by a marker set B had received, and all the kids started making drawings. Between that, and the ability for K to escape to her bedroom whenever she wanted, things went far better than if we had gone somewhere else for the holiday. Know your population, that's what I always say!

On the B front, well, his issues are different. Let's just say he hasn't learned the finer art of just saying "thank you", even when you don't like something. Nor does he understand that even though you make a Christmas list, you might not get everything on that list. He has already begun his list for next year, starting with the things Santa forgot. But, for the most part, B doesn't have the same anxieties or feelings of being overwhelmed. He happily played with his cousin, E, and wore his super cute Santa costume all day. Santa B just has to remember that his 14 month old cousin, A, can't really catch herself when he decides he's done having her sit on his lap. Thankfully I was there to make sure no teeth were lost when B pushed her off his lap, and she went barreling face first towards the hardwood floor.

Today we celebrate Christmas #2 with my dad and his girlfriend. Maybe K will cancel it, maybe not, but I go into it hoping for the best. I'm also glad we are hosting again, so that K has the comfort of her own house and bedroom. Do I wish she was able to celebrate with us the whole day? The answer might surprise you because it's "no". I don't lament the things that could be, but celebrate what is. If she spends some time with us, fabulous! If she needs to spend most of the afternoon upstairs, that's fine, too. Focusing on the good is a choice, and one I have consciously made because it's not something I've always done. It's easier to get dragged down by what you think you've lost, instead of seeing everything you have. Even in the really hard times, there's always that sliver of light.

Find it.

Hold onto it.

Celebrate it.

Now, I wonder if I can get B back into that Santa costume...

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