Hooray!! The tree is up and decorated, and its looking beautiful. Our usual Sunday tea in the sitting room this week was accompanied by fairy lights, chocolate cake from friends and a roaring fire as the wind blew outside around the house. Idyllic if it hadn’t also been the most likely cause of absolutely full on behaviour that needed my undivided attention to navigate the many unexpected dangers (well OK some are so expected now they’re a given) of sitting together to eat and simply be together!
One of my gorgeous quirky little ones was just desperate to take it all in… which involved trying to crawl around the bottom of the tree not quite realising how much bigger she was than the space; collecting tree needles and posting them ‘carefully’ through the baubles’ hanging loops; climbing up onto everyone’s lap when they least expected it… and enjoying it so much the climbing carried on beyond laps, up, over, off, on again & round; taking a bit of all the food on offer just to get stressed out by it having touched something else, of being slightly different, or not quite right… and only nibbling a few things, and revisiting the feeling of joy & release that came from throwing the odd bits she didn’t want; enthusiastically dancing taking all the available space and more, and dragging me in to partner… and rounding it all up with trust games that I didn’t at first know were about to begin! Add into all that joy and hilarity the bumps, knocks, invaded space (of course my other gorgeous quirky ones needed everything toned down and were craving personal space!), worries over food, the hot drinks, the fire, the mess, the unstoppable, untameable energy, relentless noise, and of course the constant vigilance for whatever was coming next and it wasn’t the most restful tea!!
In all the preparations for Christmas there is often this mixed up bundle of explosive energy, anticipation and joy, and for us as a family it is more often than not accompanied by heightened awareness of sensory issues, and anxiety. None of that has stopped us looking forward to it all. I love catching up with family, we don’t live really close to each other so having some time to spend together is really special. It is satisfying to find time to fill the freezer with cook ahead goodies, and to choose, make, buy & wrap presents. We love the wonderful services we get to be involved in planning and leading at Christmas time (though sometimes I do find myself wanting just a few more hours in the day!) And quite a lot of the time we are involved in those as a whole family in some way which adds to the specialness (& logistics) of them. There are also the rather beautiful school services and plays, and the sleepless nights and challenging behaviour that come with them!
All said and done I am sitting here tonight (all are asleep at this moment so it’s quiet) knowing there is such a lot still to do to get ready…
Practically I am keen to get some sensory distractions at the ready (which would have helped I suspect on Sunday) so I can channel energy, and soothe frayed and jangled nerves… These all look like they could come together fairly easy & be useful – as well as lovely…
- http://www.growinghandsonkids.com/nativity-sensory-bin.html (like the idea of real hay – wonder what it will do for eczema??)
- http://www.kidspot.com.au/cute-diy-find-it-jars/ (have had lots of use out of DIY ‘summer in a jar’ – sand & teeny tiny beach items… would love to have a go at a Christmas themed jar… all mine find them a very relaxing and calming activity to sit with).
- http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/make-your-own-christmas-decorations.html (really love the warm light coming through these beautiful window stars, think they might bring playful puddles of colour onto the floors and walls …they look possible with the older two, could also get T to cover the back of a star outline with tissue paper then trim & display on the window too)
I have also got to get organised making the planned events clear and visible so we can count down to them and see the order they will come in. For now day by day is fine but once they break up from school I am imagining that I will find it useful to have a more detailed plan on view (including visual prompts) as the loss of the more predictable school day will increase anxieties. I came across these resources at ‘positively autism’ so I think I will make use of them and adapt them to suit us:
I’m also of course continuing to try and remain especially conscious of our desire to welcome God’s presence into the heart of it all.
Our advent candle and readings are intermittent but there – for which I am very thankful. And we have a strangely delightful extra layer to the liturgy brought by T – a little drawing of Mary that she has done and then tucked in with the readings is now being hidden before the meal & looked for with great excitement before we read (quite often with the jingle ‘where is Mary, where is Mary’ (Frere Jacques tune) being sung too) – I would love some suggestions as to the theological significance of this ritual, however I’m pleased T had an idea to bring, and that there is joy in the sharing!