Christmas Report: A Merry Little Christmas

Well, it’s after ten at night on Christmas Day. My mother and I had a very relaxing Christmas. We did not go anywhere on Christmas Eve because the brakes in our car are shot. (It will cost roughly $300.) Other than that, we had ourselves a Merry Little Christmas, with no stress.  

I slightly overcooked the prime rib. I held it for too long in the oven. Perhaps it was too long. But the meat was not that dry, though. We just like it medium done around here. It was medium well. That seemed to be the only problem. 

Anyway, the big day was actually kind of relaxing. We got up around eight, opened small gifts from our family, had Eggs Benedict with hash browns, and mostly relaxed. Christmas Dinner was simple enough: Prime rib, rolls and steamed vegetables with bearnaise sauce and au jus. Aside from medium well prime rib, the dinner turned out well.  

As for presents, the sweets we got from my brother were nice. It was a good variety in two sets of beautiful boxes. I also got sea-colored earrings from my aunt Joan – they are beautiful.  

After the dinner, I cleaned up dishes and relaxed the rest of the day. It was pretty nice.  

I would like to give a shout out to all autistic people who have had to hide their true selves around family that refuses to understand. A shout out to autistic people who avoid their stubborn family altogether, too. Shout out to autistic people who deal with unnerving questions. Shout out to people dealing with infertility.

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Christmas Prep Part 3: Take Care of Yourself

Some people say I preach to the choir. I say even the choir needs some guidance every once in a while. But truthfully, I am often preaching to myself. The issue at hand? The hectic schedules of Christmas many of us come across. Think about it. In Christian tradition, December is one of the busiest months of the year, if not the very busiest.  

You have parties, caroling, lights, sounds from nowhere, smells, cooking, church services, church potlucks, card send outs, family get-togethers…think about it. It is quite easy to get swept up in the hubbub – and forget to take care of yourself. The meds are a small thing, yet they help keep you stable and able to somewhat enjoy the season. Anyway, self-care is even more essential than ever in this time. I hate to bring it up, but there’s a reason airplane people tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. How can you help someone if you can’t breathe? Take care of yourself. If you need a break, take a break.  

If you don’t celebrate Christmas in this hectic manner, feel free to apply this advice to the month(s) you are busiest. It’s all good advice, applicable to busy times.

Christmas Prep, Part 2: Regular Shopping, Plus Christmas Shopping


With the Annual Thanksgiving Throw Out done, my mother declared that we would get smaller stuff next year. Honestly, those “tiny turkeys” the Millennials are so fond of looked very good. I’m going to try getting one of those next year. I think I might look at those “crazy Millennials” again, not that I’m that critical of them in the first place, and see what I can learn.  

But anyway, live and learn…. 

I’m writing this the day before we pay bills and go December shopping. It’s not like we have any more special funds than any other month of the year, so we kind of skimp and see if we can get gifts early. (It’s also hard to hide gifts from a person who usually shops with you, so we just get them early. No wrapping.) Honestly, I don’t like to waste a lot of wrapping paper. If I could wrap my gifts in reusable, giftable bags we could use over and over, I would be happy. I’ve recycled and kept gift bags from Christmas before.  

We just shop for the month, and maybe some Christmas Dinner if we can. Our Christmas Dinner is a little different from the norm. We tend to like having Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding, plus other dishes we like. (It’s still up in the air at this point what we’re having with it. Steamed vegetables? Salad? Potatoes? Rice Pilaf? We iron out the kinks as the month goes by.) Even Bear gets in on the Holidays.  

I know it seems I’m being flippant about autistic people’s challenges, but I’m not. I’m in charge of most holiday cheer at my house, so I can ease into the season, since we’ve got almost an entire month left. There are challenges through the month. For example, did I mention there is a giant Christmas tree blocking the patio door and only window in our living room? We had no other place to put it. Also, I deal with some sensory issues as I come up. Fortunately, there is some progress on the cinnamon broom front. (Those burn my nose, by the way.) It seems the brooms now come wrapped in plastic. Some people might see this as excessive, but I do not.  

Christmas disruption is at a minimum this year, and I think that helps when dealing with it.

(A little note: I don’t want to be in a echo chamber. I would like to hear from other holiday traditions. I know that Hanukkah starts tonight at sunset, for example. Anybody out there Jewish and autistic? I’d like to hear from you, too.) 

Christmas Holiday Prep Part 1: The Decorations


Strangely, there is a lot of stress at the beginning of our family Christmas holidays, and at the end. My first stress is simply this: putting up decorations. The decorations, I’m sorry, are very disruptive in my house.  

Here is what I do:

  1. I put a tree in every room. I move our television to another table to make room for the main nativity.
  2. I decorate the table and chandelier above it, as well as the walls.
  3. I take down the fall towels in the bathroom and put up the Christmas towels.
  4. I clear off my dresser and put a bunch of stuff in different places for its little nativity set.
  5. And for the cherry on top, I put a giant Christmas tree right in front of the patio door, blocking my only view of the outside I consider safe to see out of. (There is a giant bush blocking the view outside my bedroom window, by the way.) Besides, the tree has nowhere else to go.  

Anyway, Christmas usually has the most decorations in my house. I am still decorating the main tree at this point, tweaking and filling bare spots and such.  

Strangely enough, the decorating gives me a sense of stability – that it’s time to prepare for Christmas. I can understand, though, how the décor is majorly disruptive for so many of us autistic people out there. They get in your way if you let them (and many don’t have a choice in the matter!). It’s like those majorly strong cinnamon brooms that used to get in the way of my nose about this time every year. This year, though, the cinnamon brooms were encased in plastic, and I barely smelled them. That’s progress.  

If it needs to be, do small Christmas decorations. Not everybody needs to have a Christmas tree which blocks the patio door. A little tree in the apartment on top of the table can be good enough. Don’t worry, dear autistic adult: do your holidays your way.  

I’ve also got a few tips for the parent or caretaker of the autistic person who needs more support than I do, along with personal experience. 

  1. Involve the autistic person in the decorating decisions. Again, since I’m coming from Christmas, it behooves them to involve how all the distracting stuff falls into place and helps get them ready for the holidays you celebrate. Believe me – getting the decorations out early helps them ease into the holiday.
  2. Rehearse/teach them how to receive various presents. Toys they can handle. What you might want to rehearse is how to receive socks, clothes and the stuff you’re not sure they know what it is. Teach them to simply say, “Thank you for the gift. It is lovely.” On a personal note, I received a wooden oven rack pull, and somebody had to explain and actually show to me what it was. Awkward! But I use that rack pull all the time.
  3. We NEED escape options. I end up going to the restroom frequently for this – but I think I need to explain to my hosts how this works. I don’t want to hog the bathroom all the time. It’s usually boring in there! I’m going to see if this year I can make a quiet space for myself and a fellow autistic relative of mine, if we go this year.
  4. Favorite foods and meals are good – remember, stability is key. In a potluck situation, this is easy to do. Sure, some autistic people can try a lot of foods, but bring the person’s favorites to maintain stability. Go ahead and bring the chicken nuggets, or whatever they need.
  5. LET THEM STIM. Stimming is a comforting motion which expends excess energy from emotion or stress. Leave them to it. 

I’ll give a few more tips as I think of them for a lower-stress holiday. They sometimes come slowly for me.

How to Choose a Church if Autistic

CONTENT WARNING: Religion, Stigma, “Vaccine Blame” talk 

Many autistic people long for connection with things bigger than themselves. Worship tends to help those who believe in entities such as God.  

I’m going to present Christian examples, simply because that is what I know. Feel free to add your own tips and religious experiences.  

As always, correct me if I’m wrong.  

  1. Openness to Acceptance: Now, this is a hard one to start with, but there must be an acceptance of different kinds of people in the church. In Christianity’s core, Jesus’ mission (and Christians’ by choice of religion) is to “seek and save the lost.” By default, that means you ought to go looking to bring as many people, and as many different people, as you (and God with you) can. That includes the autistic.
  2. Education: Sometimes, a church and its parishioners can be turned toward acceptance by education. I know it’s hard, but educating people about the range and spectrum of autism may be necessary in the course of worship. 
  3. Vaccine Acceptance, Not Blame: Vaccines do not cause autism. End of story. And if they do not accept vaccines for any reason, then walk away. You will be exposing you and yours to debilitating, often deadly and preventable illnesses. 
  4. No Stigma/Shame: A common belief, especially in more legalistic places of worship, is that autism and mental illness are symptoms of moral failing, and that they must be corrected. In Christianity, this is a common theme among religious leaders, that God must be punishing a person with illness and disability. They are often wrong, since there are usually genetic components to these conditions.
  5. Acceptance/Encouragement of Healthy Practices: I once got encouragement from a fellow parishioner to take my required medicines to keep me healthy at church. This is actually good and proper. Medicines are often part of God’s plan to help with illnesses, disabilities and conditions, physical and mental. But, I digress. The point is, stay at a church that encourages good health practices in love.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add more.

About Systematic Rape and Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

WARNING: Content includes talk of rape, coverup and sexual abuse. Proceed with caution.

What can I say? That it literally took getting secular police involved to expose the scandal? That coverup and lies were the norm? That the Church has traumatized people with its policies against my loving God? It is literally the scandal of our time. Now, there is at least one person calling on the current Pope to resign. This is beginning to raise questions in the minds of people. 

Are there people who don’t know who their fathers are because of the coverup policies? The answer is yes. The media exposed at least one. Are there people who are suffering from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases because of the policies of the church? There hasn’t been anyone exposed yet, but I’m sure there are. Are there celebrities who have been abused by priests and are dealing with the repercussions in rage? I don’t know, but Kevin Smith, the mind behind the movie Dogma, is a good candidate. I’m not saying he was abused, but his material makes you wonder. 

This is also raising questions in my own mind and heart.  

Did my best friend suffer at the hands of somebody in the Catholic Church? Yes, I was best friends with a Catholic girl. We met in public school. I’m not sure if she did suffer, since I never saw her get alone with anyone working in the church, but you’re never quite sure. How many of my friends and colleagues suffered at the hands of these priests and others? How much sex did superiors extort from the priests in the coverups? You know, how much “Suck my dick or I’ll tell” happened? We may never know.  

Now here’s the meat of the conversation: How many people were turned away from God because of these actions? How much hypocrisy does it take to get people to hate God? I hear it isn’t much these days. That is what the Catholic Church ought to be worried about. Their hypocrisy has become a destructive force to their ministry. The scandal they tried to avoid, only blew up in their faces.  

What does the Catholic Church do at this point? The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is able to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) But they must do more. They must understand that people, including priests and nuns, are human, and as such, have sinful desires, such as sex with children and teenagers. They need a plan to expose and purge out the evil, not cover it up. We are living in the effect of covering it up. The Church has let the leprosy grow, and now the resulting scandal threatens them all.  

I guess, the one thing we need to learn is: Your sins will find you out.  

Getting Jesus; Faith of a Canaanite Woman

I watched “Jesus Christ Superstar” on NBC along with who knows how many people. I suspect there were many, though. Ratings will come out next week. It was a punk-rock-modern retelling, complete with multimedia and reporters among the arresting crowd. I was not offended at all that John Legend was cast. He was excellent. I was actually offended about Alice Cooper’s involvement, until Mr. Cooper’s faith came busting out of the shadows on its own. That put any offense to bed really quick. But one thing that nagged me throughout the show was this question: Did anybody around Jesus really GET Jesus?  

According to the musical, nobody really got Jesus, and they said over and over “He’s just a man.” However, the Bible tells the story of one or woman who actually got Jesus – who He was, what He was all about. Sure, they forgot to depict the Resurrection in the musical. I’m not sure Andrew Lloyd Weber really got Him. As a matter of fact, I have a confession: I don’t even know if I get Jesus half of the time. Fortunately, you don’t have to get Jesus to be loved or saved by Jesus. 

As to the woman who did, they remain unnamed to this day. The first account, in the Bible Book of Matthew (15:21-28), a Canaanite/Syro-Phoenician woman cries for help for her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus says in the account, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But the woman counters with, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Jesus healed her daughter for her great faith.  

I’m not saying I am perfect, far from it. I am saying that faith is rewarded, and there was a woman who really GOT Jesus. I want to be more like the Canaanite Woman.