Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The War on Christmas

Warning: This is just a little rant about something that’s been bothering me lately…. These are just my thoughts and feelings.

I’m a Christian. I believe, acknowledge, and celebrate what I believe to be “the reason for the season” which is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. But I also partake in the secular side of Christmas. I attend the candlelight Christmas Eve church service celebrating Jesus’ birth and then I go home and turn into Santa’s helper placing gifts under the Christmas tree once Noah has gone to bed.

The past couple of years, because of the “war on Christmas” as some call it, some companies tell their employees not to wish customers a Merry Christmas (using Happy Holidays as an alternative) and what was once referred to as Christmas tree or Christmas ornaments are now often times referred to as holiday trees and holiday ornaments. I guess it’s just become the politically correct thing to do.  But I've noticed Christians are making it a point to use “Merry Christmas” more and more. 

I’ll be honest, before the war on Christmas was so predominant, I used to say “Happy Holidays” more than “Merry Christmas.” Not because I’m not proud to be a Christian and celebrate the birth of Jesus but because I feel like Happy Holidays includes multiple holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s and by saying “Happy Holidays” I’m including all of those. Often times when I write about Christmas related things, I’ll use holiday season because again, I’m talking about the entire season; more than just one day (Christmas Day in this case.) I suppose I could start referring to it as the Christmas season but I’m just not used to saying that yet.

I also personally feel it’s odd to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” early on in the season, like on December 2nd for example. Christmas is still weeks away at that point! 

But because of the War on Christmas, I feel pressured and that I’m almost a bad Christian if I’m wishing people “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And I’m tired of it. I mean really, if I wish someone “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” am I really taking Christ out of my Christmas? No! I still believe what I believe, I’m still a Christian, and I still celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. But, I want to be able to say what I want to say without being judged or someone forming an opinion of what I believe in based on two words. What I believe, can’t be summed up or explained in a two-word well-meaning pleasantry. 

Besides, I know my heart, I know who I am, and who’s I am.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas and a Special Needs Child

The other day about I wrote about seeing the magic of Christmas through Noah’s eyes. But I wouldn’t be painting a complete picture of the Christmas season if I didn’t mention the hard parts too.

Even with all of Noah’s excitement about the Christmas season, it can still be very difficult for Noah and children like him. Christmas Day is extremely out of routine, there is no schedule. We usually travel to my parents’ house which he looks forward to but it’s just not the normalcy he is used to. It feels like a weekend (which to Noah means hash browns from McDonalds or Hardees) but it isn’t always on a weekend.

I thought I’d share a few of the things we usually do to try and help Noah have the merriest of Christmases possible and perhaps if you are the parent of a child with special needs who gets overwhelmed during the holidays, some of these ideas will help you.

1. Traditions are important. Just like routine, traditions become a part of the Christmas “routine.” Even though it’s only once a year, Noah remembers the things we do each year. For example, we have a very small Christmas Eve “party” (it’s just our little family but Noah likes to call it a party) after the candlelight church service. Part of Noah’s Christmas routine is the church service and then the Christmas Eve party. He knows those things will happen each year.
2. Quiet time is important. If Noah seems overwhelmed, we’ll take him into the bedroom and lay on the bed with him to help him calm down.
3. We don’t force anything. If Noah’s not in the mood to open presents, then we don’t force him to. We’ll either go ahead and open our own presents, open his presents for him and show him what he received, or just wait and try again in a little bit.
4. Even though we don’t force him to do anything, we also try to include him in everything. If he isn’t up for it, that’s OK but we always want him to feel included no matter what.
5. One more thing about presents – sometimes Noah gets overwhelmed with too many to open and his fine motor skills aren’t the greatest so Santa doesn’t wrap Noah’s gifts. They are unwrapped, out of boxes, etc. and displayed nicely and neatly ready for him to look at and play. What presents are wrapped; my family usually wraps in a way that is easy for Noah to open such as gift bags.
6. The past couple of years, Noah is becoming less picky about what he eats but he used to be super careful so my Mom and I would make sure that we had some of Noah’s staple food items to mix in with the other holiday foods we don’t have too often that way he has familiar things to eat.
7. I’ve let go of the idea of the “perfect” holiday. Our Christmas will never look like a Rockwell painting. I realized a long time ago to celebrate the good and the bad. It’s just a part of life and perfect holidays are unrealistic for any family.

If you’re juggling Christmas and a special needs kiddo, my heart goes out to ya! Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Magic

Our nickname for Noah at this time of year is “Mr. Christmas.” He really seems to embrace the season as much as possible and loves all things Christmas. It wasn’t always like this though. There were so many Christmases that he just didn’t really pay attention or it just overwhelmed him.

But now, he gets so excited for the Christmas season. The excitement usually starts right after his birthday in October. That’s when we started counting down the days till he could up his little tree in his room, which in our home is either Thanksgiving night (depending on how tired we are from Thanksgiving) or sometime during the weekend directly after Thanksgiving. Noah’s little tree always goes up first and he is always so excited for it. 

Each afternoon when he gets home from school, we turn the lights on his little purple and orange tree. He gets so excited each time I turn them on even though they were just twinkling for him the day before. He goes to bed with the lights twinkling. I’ll peek in on him and see him just lying in his bed staring at the little tree. After a while, he’ll roll over into his little spot close to the bedrail and drift off to sleep with visions of Christmas magic dancing through his head. And before I go to bed, I tiptoe into his room and turn the lights out.

I love his innocence. I love the magic of the season. I love seeing Christmas year after year through my boy’s eyes.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is Anyone Still Out There?

I don't know what happened specifically but I obviously needed a long hiatus from blogging. We're still alive and doing well. I'm going to try re-launching the blog and over the next week or so I will be catching you up on everything that has been going on in our lives.

I'm still crafting but my crafting has changed directions a little bit. I'm card making, stamping, and any sort of paper crafting. Lately I have also gotten into swapping pocket letters. Never heard of pocket letters? Check out this link for more information.

Noah's doing great too! Updates are coming on him as well.

So stay tuned!