Thanksgiving is like a dry run for the larger December holidays. Parties to host or attend fill my calendar. Someone experiencing it for the first time can be overwhelmed. Living with a developmentally disabled child at the holidays brings another added layer of two extremes. She doesn’t outgrow it and she can’t prepare mentally for it. Today it’s all about Christmas Joy in Simple Things. Simple Things is my term used to describe my daughter, and those like her who has developmental disabilities.
Christmas is a special time of year. Christians around the world celebrate the first Advent of Christ. Nonreligious folks enjoy the excitement and atmosphere of joy it brings. Christmas is the one time of year we are all encouraged to set aside differences and forgive. We show others we love them through well wishes and gifts. No one wants to be a Scrooge. Children readily believe in Santa for a season. Then they go through many funky stages of liking and hating Christmas. As they grow to adults they outgrow some of the childlike vestiges and move on to adult like behavior. By eight most children know Santa is mom and dad having fun. They may tolerate the game a few more years but the fantasy is exposed.
My daughter believes in Santa, she’s eighteen.
Funny thing is I never told my kids Santa was real. I didn’t want to lie to my children, so I told them Santa was mom and dad. There was a bit of family drama one year when my oldest told my sisters youngest Santa was just her parents. My sister was not happy. She knew it was probably her last Christmas where Santa was real and the excitement would be palpable. Apparently her older boys were sympathetic to their little sister’s childishness, she was the baby after all. Try as we may to fix the damage the seeds of truth would not be uprooted from my nieces mind. It’s been about eighteen years since that fateful Christmas and my youngest believes.
Monique’s a fighter so don’t try too hard to change her mind. I tell her I’m Santa and she accepts my words. However, the truth is revealed when someone asks her. People in the mall or church trying to continue the joy get a bit of fun seeing her light up at the thought. She starts to bounce up and down thinking of Santa swinging by with his sled and reindeer. Maybe the joy is real because she hasn’t hit the point where Christmas is about a wish-list turned expectations. Maybe I’m cruel, often I’m just on a budget, but my children have never gotten everything they asked for. It good to have a few birthday ideas for the after Christmas sales.
Holding on and Letting Go
My sister was holding onto something she would be forced to relinquish. Her children, beautifully normal would all one day leave childhood behind. Knowing things will change gave her a desperate hope to have just one more magical Christmas. It seems I will never fully move beyond the idea of Santa. As friends refine their celebration I get to continue the simplicity and joy of childhood. Sure it can be exhausting but she never rolls her eyes or speaks negatively at any childlike antics I want to enjoy.
Find Joy in Simple Things
If you need a little pick-me-up or reminder of joy, watch a child at Christmas. If that child is an adult who talks or walks a little funny, join in. When someone asks Monique about Christmas I can never guess what will come out of her mouth, but it will make you laugh. While shopping yesterday she revived the joy of Christmas in two young ladies hurrying to find the particular gift. How do I know? The countenance of the faces went from – ‘I’m in a hurry here’ to ‘I’m going to laugh about this for weeks to come.’
It’s your turn. Do you know some of God’s Simple Things? Do they infect you with their Joy for life? Were you encouraged? Comment below.
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©2015 Elayne Cross
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