|rochelle hartman (cc)|
Everyone talks about how stressful the holidays; lists to make, cookies to bake, gifts to buy, decorations to put up, parties to plan, school programs to attend, and practices for the Sunday school program. They all demand our attention and of course, we have to do ALL of them.
Do we? Really? Do our children need a myriad of gifts or would a few be all right? I know, I know; we just can't bring ourselves to cut back even when our lack of funds forces us to. We find a way to make Christmas "meaningful" to our children, even if that means skipping this month's mortgage or rent payment or car payment.
It may be even more so with parents of special-needs children. After all, life doesn't seem fair for them all year long, so we need to level the playing field and get them everything they want at Christmas time. When I ask Kalisha to make a list for me, she just starts putting 'things' on it because that is what she thinks she should do. If we go over her requests one at a time and I ask if that is something she really wants, she invariably says, "No, not really."
I can't speak for all special-needs children, but many would rather have the gift of time spent with someone of their choosing, and perhaps see a movie and go to McDonald's. I am definitely not suggesting that an outing would replace all gifts under the tree, but it would probably replace half of them.
I used to be guilty of talking her out of something she wanted because I didn't want her to want it. For example: Kalisha loves DVD's and owns many of them. When asked, she would name one she wanted and it usually was a Disney or some other kids movie. For many years, I tried really hard to make her 'want' a more age-appropriate movie (her chronological age). She can be easily persuaded, so of course, she would agree with me. Then she would never watch the one I bought. Somewhere along the line, I gained a little sense and got the ones she wanted. After all, I remember receiving gifts that the giver thought I should have, even if that wasn't what I really wanted; and I hated that, so why do the same to my own child?
I try to make just as much fudge and cookies as we need for gifts and only a few more. That way we don't have to look at all of the extras and of course, eat them. We are trying to eat healthier, so it helps to only make half the quantity.
Our family exchange has helped the budget immensely, too. Everyone brings one gift that costs $2 or less, wrapped. It must be usable by either male or female. You may think that would never work for your family, but I guarantee you it will be the highlight of the get-together and yes, you can find some great things at the local Dollar Tree or Dollar General stores. The younger children will make their own shopping choices and love it.
Our group ranges in age from 66 to 4, and everyone has a great time unwrapping and swapping gifts. It eliminates the expense, the huge amount of time spent shopping and wrapping, and the search for the 'perfect' gift. They are all perfect gifts. AND nothing has to be returned the next day.
Everyone can use a little help during the holidays. Teach your children the difference between giving and getting. Perhaps you could ask the parents of a special-needs child if they would like you to spend some time with their child while they go shopping for a few hours. Believe me when I say that crowded stores and malls are difficult for children with sensory issues. Too many sights, sounds, people, noises, smells and congestion. It is not a ho-ho time for them.
What do you do during the holiday season to make things easier?