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A Letter to Christmas from Special Needs Mum

Ger Renton by Ger Renton Additional Needs

Ger Renton

Ger Renton

Mummy to three boys and now a mother to a fur baby, Lola. Wife to D and lover of music, books, writing and reading. I'm a believer in the power of...

I rush about looking for, ‘theee perfect’, gift for each of the men in my life.

I think I’ve found the perfect gift until an advertisement on the TV, Radio, Internet or bus stop (of all places!) promptly informs me that I may have gotten it wrong.

The shops are telling me I don’t have the must haves while the postman is reminding me of my must pays!

I search high and low for Ethan; what do you buy a child who loves teddies but has every teddy you see piled high in the toy stores?

We rummage through his collection and pick a few to replace - Homer Simpson - that is the answer, this year.

Ethan's current Homer teddy is so battered and torn that it has become fit for the bin...I can’t throw it away until I replace it...

Ethan won’t notice but I will, he has had that teddy since he was 2, I can’t just throw it out, can I?

My mission to find Homer began in September; including internet shopping, which honestly, I stopped because last time I ordered a teddy off Ebay for Christmas, the teddy didn’t arrive until January and cost me a fortune.

I found Homer three weeks ago.

D and I popped into the local toy store and as luck would have it there was a Homer and a Bart teddy...ish - they had soft bodies but hard heads.

We stood throwing them at each other in the middle of the isle, commenting on how soar one of those would be--this is purely market research as Ethan loves to throw things...many things.

Other shoppers giggled as they passed us while staff members asked if they could help us.

Turns out throwing teddies in a toy store is not allowed.

We bought both; the heads didn’t hurt that much and Ethan is losing his swing due to restrictive joints.

We headed towards the toddler isle; not for our toddler but for Ethan.

Every year, Christmas, you hurt my heart more when I’ve to shop in this isle for my teenager.

I know it’s not your fault, but it is hard when other parents and staff assume we have a few toddlers at home (yes, we buy that much, in the hopes that something will help Ethan engage).

Then comes the decorating, the photos and the visit to good ol saint Nick not to mention the school plays, concerts and the beautiful Christmas mass.

I hang decorations that all my boys made years previously, only with Ethan's I can see the decline in his skills - again not your fault Christmas, but…

If I decorate too early Ethan gets caught in a, ‘loop’, asking over and over, ‘Santa?’ - he cannot comprehend time.

The camera is always on and ready to catch a moment when Ethan looks like any other child enjoying his family at Christmas...each year I snap more and more pictures trying to capture Ethan just being Ethan...Christmas, it is getting harder each year...I know it’s not your fault…

I video each Christmas morning, last Christmas I dropped the camera as Ethan had no clue how to open his gift….that was the hardest thing I have had to witness ...I don’t blame you Christmas but you don’t make it easier as the years go on…

The pressure I receive from random strangers to well meaning family and friends about why I haven't visited Santa yet is simply depressing.

It feels judgemental and condescending informing me that all children should see Santa.

My boys do see Santa just not Ethan, not in a public setting and certainly not with all my boys.

It is simply too hard on Ethan and us...that’s the truth.

However, this year, we decided to try a public visit as our toddler is so excited, which is lovely to see but also bittersweet.

With the help of a wonderful business here locally, Ethan and the toddler will visit Santa while Santa is preparing for his grotto to be opened to the public...people are wonderful, thank you Christmas for showing me that.

J, our middle guy, has a school concert in the evening; how I wish it was during school hours.

One of us can attend not both.

We cannot bring Ethan to a concert and expect him to sit through it...Christmas, I can’t remember the last time we went to such an event as a family...but that’s not your fault…

As for Christmas mass, we haven’t been in years, ever since Ethan roared at the priest to ‘shug up’ ...thankfully the priest didn’t hear but those beside us did and they witnessed a sensory overload up-close and was hard getting out of the church quietly, with Ethan roaring ‘fug off’ and ‘shug up’... it was funny though, Christmas, I’ll give you that.

We will laugh and sing and get excited with the boys over this special season, but Christmas, sometimes I pretend, sometimes I want to cancel you and your glitter balls and hide indoors away from all the happy smiling children beaming with excitement

But then Christmas, I watch... I watch my boys, my husband and I realise as they play, laugh, fight and argue that this group is what you, my dear Christmas, are all about… family.

We will have ourselves a non-typical Christmas, we won’t decorate until the week before Christmas, we will sneak into visit Santa, there’ll be no family attendance at a school concert and there will be no Christmas mass...but there will be us, our little family enjoying whatever you bring us this year, dear Christmas.

We have learned to appreciate the littlest of moments and we hope those of you reading this can do the what if the family photo isn’t perfect?

So what if your children sulk?

So what if the dinner is way later than you planned?

Take the time to just be….and that is really what my friend Christmas is trying to be about...goodwill to all mankind ...may peace be in your heart and home over this Christmas season.

Thank you Christmas for always popping up, even though I find you hard, you are always there trying to remind me of your true meaning,

I get it.




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