snowman in october

It ought to be a crime

A neighbor down the street from us puts her Christmas decorations up days after Halloween. It’s strange to see her lit-up Santa with a pumpkin at his feet. Seeing holiday trees for sale last week made me feel a bit annoyed that we are rushing so far ahead of ourselves. We’ve barely closed the door on the last trick-or-treaters and have yet to give thanks in November. What’s the big hurry? Can’t we enjoy one holiday without immediately diving into the next?

Guilty as charged

While no one could ever accuse me of getting ahead of myself in the game of holiday decorating or shopping, I confess to sometimes wanting to fast-forward through them. After all these years of accepting and reframing what they mean in the context of living with autism, it’s still difficult not to feel a small pang of disappointment for all the reworking and lowering of expectations we must do.

I know I’m not alone, as I have heard this from many other parents who express feelings ranging from mild irritation to deep resentment at this time of year. Just once, they’d like to be able to experience some semblance of normalcy, to let down their guard and savor the moment.

Parents often report feeling as if they are constantly moving from one challenging situation to another. One mom said she tells herself, “If I can just get through this” – and then something else appears. It’s always something – to get over – or through – or past.”

Wishing away time

When days and nights are filled with challenges and parent reserves are low, we’re prone to wanting time to move faster, almost willing an hour to go by in less than sixty minutes. Whether it’s wishing that bedtime arrive sooner or the morning bus arrive earlier, we wish away time. The holidays are a vulnerable period for this kind of thinking.

Rethinking this year

This year I’m challenging myself to be more mindful of the thoughts, feelings and associations made over the years that influence each new year’s worth of experiences. I made a promise to myself at each of the upcoming holidays to spend some time being more present in the moment and to catch myself when I find I am doing otherwise.

How about you? How do you “auto-correct” when you feel yourself moving to a “bah humbug” state of mind? What are some tips for other parents to help navigate the holidays? We’d love it if you’d share them with us.