Holiday Traditions are Important, No Matter How Simple

Jennifer Arnold by Jennifer Arnold Additional Needs

Jennifer Arnold

Jennifer Arnold

I’m passionate about raising awareness about disability issues through education and outreach. When I’m not wearing my writer hat, I’m usually tryi...

When I was young there were a few holiday traditions that I looked forward to every year; the annual extended family Christmas party, driving around trying to find the best light displays and getting to open one present on Christmas Eve.

When I was a teen with a part-time job that required me to work weekends and some holidays, finding great light displays and being home on Christmas Eve got put on the back burner.

The family parties grew smaller and more infrequent as the cousins grew older and started their own families.

Even though the consistency of those traditions ebbed and flowed, the memories never faded, and I promised myself I would do similar things with my own kids when the time came.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and life is a whole lot different than I ever could have imagined.

Having two children with a myriad of special needs between them causes you to reevaluate the definition of normal and adjust accordingly.

Holiday traditions are no exception.

We may not be able to do the huge family parties for fear of overstimulation and meltdowns, but the kids get to open one present on Christmas Eve as I used to.

And now that they are old enough to appreciate pretty light displays, we have done a couple of test cruises around town, with their favorite Christmas music playing on the car radio.

So far, so good.

Traditions help us bond as a family and give the kids a sense of security and something to look forward to.

Our Christmas tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving every year; they know this and start asking about it sometime around Halloween.

We also have a snowman Christmas countdown calendar that has become a fixture of our holiday décor.

Starting December 1st, the snowman’s nose gets moved each night before bed without fail.

As the kids are getting older, we are testing the waters with new traditions.

Having a child with chronic lung disease means that there is only so much we can do out in the community during the cold and flu season, so we try and find things we can do at home.

We attempted a holiday movie marathon.

The kids lasted about an hour, right about the time the popcorn ran out.

Admittedly, I nodded off on my couch myself. It’s a trial and error process, but I love the memories that we are creating as we try.


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