Photo: Jaime Ramos

Christmas is so much. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s joyful, it’s frustrating, it’s a lot. I love it though. I love it for religious reasons, I love being with family, I love yummy treats, and I love presents. I get so caught up in it. 

I have so many deep-seated memories when it comes to Christmas that I want to recreate them for my kids. I want them to have it all and sometimes I forget to slow down.

My five-year-old son Johnny is on the autism spectrum and is a sensory seeker. This often slows us down. He wants to stop and touch everything. He touches the walls, grass, everything on the shelves at the store, he’s been known to lay on the ground in public and rub his hand over whatever is below him. He appreciates the little things, he feels and sees the world through the smallest details. 

I often get sad he doesn’t get excited about Christmas in the traditional ways. He likes it. He likes to say “Santa” and sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” but when it comes to the actual day he’s not a big fan. 

Johnny doesn’t love hustle and bustle. He’s not big on people coming and going. It’s a loud day with too many expectations. He’s not big on Christmas morning, because he knows he’ll have to sit through opening presents, one of his least favorite things.

This year though instead of pushing the things children usually enjoy on him I’ve been celebrating through him. Watching how he enjoys all the small things.

Johnny examines every branch on the tree. He touches and feels each ornament. He lays under the tree and takes it all in. His favorite thing to do is watch the toy train go around and around the tree. 

He loves decorations. Especially the big tacky ones I can’t stand, he knows where all the inflatables are in the neighborhood. He stares out the window and looks at all the beautiful lights on people’s houses. He loves his grandmother’s little nativity set and listing all the major players. 

He loves snow. When we get that first heavy snow with the big flakes he and I go stand outside and watch them fall. We stare up and watch as each one of them hits our faces. Johnny will jump for joy and then become completely relaxed. I have to limit him so we don’t freeze but he would stand there forever. It is his heaven on earth. 

He may not like us loud but he loves his family being together. You can see he loves everyone else’s excitement. He’ll come to me to point out who’s there whether or not he dare ever greet them. He feels the spirit of family and friends.

So this year I am loving seeing the Christmas season through his eyes. Slowing down to take in every detail. I am finding a new way to celebrate and a new way to create memories. I can’t make him enjoy it the way I did and do, but I can join him in enjoying it in the way he does. 

 

This post originally appeared on Johnny's Spirit.