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 4: Christmas Dinner Shopping

Well, this is mostly a report for what I did yesterday morning: Christmas dinner shopping. This year, we’re having prime rib. We’re also having rice, vegetables and rolls. (Honestly, I’m tempted to try Yorkshire Pudding if we have everything, and the recipe goes right.) I know for a fact that many of us autistics are not called on to make Christmas Dinner, and that’s okay. I’m putting a no pressure vibe into the day; my mother and me, laid-back and easy. Besides, just about everything in the dinner is easy, even cooking the Prime Rib. (Honestly, it is.)

Maybe that’s not the whole story. I was very nervous about cooking the Prime Rib, especially since I have failed by making it too rare before.
I looked up the recipes long before I even got the rib, looked them up just after I got the roast, and I was looking them up a few minutes before writing. I get very nervous, but I soon realize it’s much easier than my mind is making it. I guess I get anxiety, and need to calm down. 

But back to the big shopping trip. Of course, we got some other things too. We do need to eat between Christmas and New Year’s Day. (We had most of that dinner already bought, too.) Besides, once Christmas Dinner is done, we’ll be alright. There really is little to it.  

I’m not trying to be arrogant. The dinners we make are very simple, including for Christmas. I’ve looked at the cooking instructions for the most complicated things, and they’re entirely doable.

I guess the point of this is, make it as easy as possible. If you’re up to the challenge of making a Charles Dickens style Christmas, by all means, go for it. I think most of us, however, are not up to the task, autistic or neurotypical.

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.

What Kind of Christmas Movie is This?


WARNING: Spoilers for a movie from 1985 

Well, the big news is that Christmas movies are on, but I’m going to focus on one movie that came out in 1985. It’s a small movie, and not getting a lot of good press on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s called One Magic Christmas. The big thing is, this movie deals with a lot of sadness. The central family has fallen on hard times, and the mother does not see what there is to celebrate.  

The trouble with the movie starts on Christmas Eve. There is a bank robbery, and the dad is murdered. Then the robber gets into the car with the two children inside. There is a chase, and the car falls over a bridge into a river, with no survivors.  

At this point, my mother and I are both wondering, “What kind of Christmas movie is this?” Not realizing, of course, that It’s a Wonderful Life deals with the even more un-Christmassy subject of suicide. I think sad things have their place in the Christmas movie. Fortunately, Christmas magic is on hand to save the family, even the dad. (This is where the spoilers end, people. I’m not giving it away for you.)  

Maybe I’m missing the point. I’ve seen Christmas magic do crazy things, even bring people together. I guess shocking content is nothing new. It’s just not given a real chance on most Christmas movies. One Magic Christmas deals with more real-life situations than most of these movies, which deal with fairly rich people. This one deals with the lower middle class.  

And what does the mother in the movie have to celebrate? Lots of things! Maybe that’s the point of the craziness.  

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 Christmas Went This Year

After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.

I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.

Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.

Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.