This time of year is always a little bipolar for me. I enjoy the holidays and I enjoy making a big deal of them. I decorate my house and write up cards and a newsletter. I like shopping for gifts (as long as the stores aren't too crowded).
And yet, at the same time, I can end up feeling very much alone.
My husband is not a big holiday person. With his Asperger's he finds it to be a nightmare of social expectations and disrupted schedules. He worries a lot about doing the right thing and thus isn't comfortable taking any kind of lead position. He'd probably prefer to avoid it altogether but since he knows that would disappoint a lot of people, he's content to follow my lead.
For many years, Alex hasn't gotten the concept of the holidays. To him, this is the time of year when interesting things appear and he's not allowed to touch them (making them twice as interesting). His routine vanishes and he gets plunked into strange situations with people he's not terribly familiar with. There has been none of the excitement which is a child's holiday birthright.
Up to last year, Nathan didn't get the holidays either.
There's always a point in putting up the decorations and frantically running through preparations where I'm exhausted and I ask myself why I'm bothering. The boys don't care and might even be relieved not to have to battle temptation. My husband finds the requirements of the situation frustrating. So why do I do all this when sometimes it seems like I'm just making the situation worse?
I also have to deal with my feelings of jealousy towards so-called 'normal' families who may be worrying about what Uncle So-and-so will say when he's all nogged-up but who also get to enjoy their children's excitement. Kids with endless wishlists of toys and pets who actually wonder about Santa and the North Pole. They have something incredibly precious in their grasp and they don't have to fight for it.
I tell myself that someday they will get it. Someday they'll look back at this and remember that the holidays were special, not just frustrating. Maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll find a little bit of snow-driven magic to hold on to.
We might get there. Nathan remembers Christmas from last year and this year, he helped to decorate the tree. Alex is twigging off Nathan's excitement and while he's not quite sure how the pieces all fit together, he is certain there's more going on than Mom's crazy obsession with not pulling down the oh-so-tempting lights.
That's what gets me through. Although there are days when I am certain my efforts are futile, I can never entirely banish the hope that I'm wrong. So I cling to that little spark and sometimes I get rewarded with an actual heart-warming fire.