Holidays with Alex, Part II

Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Two years ago, we shared how my family celebrates the holidays; having a son with Down syndrome, we find ourselves toning down the holiday chaos as much as we can in order for the experience to be as joyful as possible for everyone. Alex, now officially a teenager, still needs modifications to our holiday activities. What I’m learning, though, is that these modifications are allowing our entire family to enjoy a more peaceful holiday season.

Alex and Jen

We all know how it is: once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, we are bombarded with opportunities to celebrate the impending holidays. Parties, visits with Santa, gift exchanges, shopping, family get-togethers, cookie baking, list making – all on top of our already busy schedules – is quite overwhelming for all of us. Alex just can’t handle it all; the older he gets, the more adamant he is about staying home and relaxing rather than facing all the crowds and commotion. Honestly, I can’t say that I blame him; why fight the crowds when you can stay home in your fuzzy Christmas slippers? With the ease of online shopping, the gifts can still be purchased. Instead of visiting a public light display, we can admire the lights in our neighborhood as we drive home in the evenings. Rather than waiting in line at the mall, we can take advantage of a sensory friendly Santa event. This may mean that certain things are crossed off my To-Do list, like Pinterest-y crafts, fancy gift wrapping decorations, or even a lengthy Christmas card list. While I initially struggled with the idea of limiting myself during the holidays, I’m finding that in the end, I actually enjoy having less to do.

Alex Addie Andrew with Santa

These slight accommodations help with my own holiday stress. Christmas is more enjoyable when I’m not listening to the kids scream at each other while we sit in mall traffic. My younger children are just fine with our less hectic holiday schedule. Frankly, if Mom isn’t stressed, then everyone is a bit happier, right? No one feels like we’re missing out on any holiday cheer, because we’re still participating in the traditions of the season. It just looks a little bit different than it may have in the past, in order to include everyone.

When our entire family can find the joy of the holidays, then that’s all that truly matters. From my family to yours, we wish you a lovely holiday season.

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