The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the decorated trees, nativity scenes, cookies, seeing family, ringing in the new year with anticipation of what’s to come. It’s a very exciting time of the year filled with love and joy.
Well, most of the time anyway. As a special needs family, the holiday season can also bring feelings of grief as we are bombarded once again with the realization of just how different our family is. Don’t get me wrong. I love our family and everything about them. But even though my love for our family runs deep, it doesn’t mean there are not those moments where I feel the sting of their diagnoses all over again.
Reminders of Our Child’s Differences Are Everywhere
The holiday season is a time of reflection. Often, we find ourselves reflecting back on our Christmas celebrations as a child. We want to experience some of those same traditions with our own children. As a special needs family, we may or may not be able to participate in these traditions with our children.
Our children with special needs may not be able to participate in Christmas pageants. They might have sensory sensitivities that prevent them from wearing the pretty Christmas dress. Maybe their diet restricts them from enjoying Christmas cookies. We may not be able to take them sledding or skating. Sometimes, it may even be as extreme as not being able to attend family gatherings because of the sensory overload it can bring.
As special needs parents, we know what our child will be able to partake in before the season arrives. We know these things in our head and have made peace with our reality. But, then it happens, we see other families doing all of these things and it stings a little. Suddenly our heart hurts again over the things our children are missing out on.
It’s ok to Grieve Again
I realize in the grand scheme of life these Christmas traditions our children may not be able to partake in are trivial. I mean, not being able to wear the pretty Christmas dress is not really that big of a deal. Even though it really is an insignificant loss, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt a little. It’s kind of like a paper cut. The injury is minor, but it still hurts.
Please be assured that if you’re feeling the pain of your child’s diagnosis again this holiday season that you are not alone. My Christmas wish for you is that you will remember that grieving is a cycle. I hope you will not allow the heartache you may be experiencing cause you to feel guilty for simply having those feelings.
Feelings of Isolation Can Be Intensified
Along with being reminded that our special needs family is unable to do many of the time-honored traditions of Christmas, we can also experience the feelings of isolation grow.
Simply knowing we’re staying home while our friends and family are out celebrating can be difficult. If we are able to attend these celebrations, conversations can remind us of just how disconnected from the world outside of special needs we are. As special needs parents we can be difficult to relate to, and by extension, it is difficult for us to relate to others. Conversations can be awkward and remind you how little others understand the life we are living.
Finding Our Own Ways to Celebrate the Holidays as a Special Needs Family
Despite all of these more difficult aspects of the holidays we face as a special needs family, we can still have an overabundance of joy. Our children with special needs have an uncanny ability to bring a fresh perspective into our lives. They are the ones who remind us that the simple things are what truly matters.
Their untainted zeal for life can remind us that we don’t need all of the traditions of Christmas to be joyful. We simply need each other, love, and to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Having a child with special needs means new special traditions. As parents, we’ll find our own special ways to celebrate the holidays as a special needs family. It may not be the traditional way to celebrate Christmas, but hey, nothing about our special needs family is typical.
We are raising extraordinary children and will experience an extraordinary holiday season.We are raising extraordinary children and will experience an extraordinary holiday season. #specialneedsfamily #christmaswithspecialneeds Click To Tweet
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year