Autism Family Life

Traditions and Autism

I grew up in a family full of traditions. As a kid, I didn’t always appreciate them. Holidays felt overwhelming at times and more than a little stressful. So, why would I continue so many? I’ve been questioning that since Thanksgiving.

I make a huge meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It often includes two meats and a half dozen sides along with fresh rolls and pies. I then take the leftovers and make up a couple of unique and most definitely NOT leftover meals. The thing that is most important to me is that every member of my family has their favorite food on our table. Often, we have company.

When I was a child, there was no such thing as a small holiday. There were just too many of us. Even though it was crazy and loud, I find myself wanting to replicate it.

then I pause.

E sat in his room on Thanksgiving night and asked why we can’t do it simple? He was tired and overwrought from the day. He didn’t want to have spent an hour picking up and he wanted to just play. The thing is, he hadn’t really picked up much that wasn’t his. He had spent the whole evening playing AND when I suggested simplifying next year he didn’t want the food or company to go away. Where exactly does that leave us?

I spend several days leading up to a big holiday prepping. A little bit of cleanup each day. Cook a dish or two extra with dinner. Little things that make the big day smoother (this year we sat down exactly when I said we would to a hot meal).

I don’t want holidays to be stressful. I intentionally make the entire week after a holiday as easy as possible. Good food with minimal cleanup and delicious treats all go into that. After Thanksgiving, we always have a Turkey Noodle Casserole. It’s a mix of Turkey, gravy, mozzarella cheese and noodle (this year we chose Farfalle). It is also a family favorite. Typically, we make that and decorate the tree. We snuggle a lot and try to go on walks. It ends up being wonderful.

But that night, after all the excitement, it is just rough.

We’ve done quiet holidays, trying to see if they work. E is a lot like me. He wants people around, he loves all of the excitement a holiday brings. For him, it gets overwhelming if it’s a busy holiday or boring and he misses everyone if it’s quiet. So, I’m working on helping him learn how to cope while I scale back the traditions and the house, just a bit.

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