I'm Dreaming of a Normal Christmas

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Being Vista’s parents is a work in progress and every day is a learning experience.

We’re discovering that Christmas can present a whole new set of challenges, though.

Today was ‘put up the tree and decorate it, but forget the tinsel and garland, because the cats just try to eat it anyway,  and don’t forget to put the breakable ornaments up high’ day.  The day that all kids love.  They can’t wait to help you put the ornaments on the tree and see the pretty lights all lit up.  Unless they’re kids with sensory issues.

It took less than 45 minutes for Vista to go into a complete and utter meltdown. Bright lights, the feel of the tree as she tried to put the ornaments on.  She eventually settled for placing the ornaments on top of the branches in such a way that she didn’t actually have to touch the fake needles.

We got her calmed and let her go to bed to decompress.

Then Bil and I talked while we wrapped her presents.

Giving her a bunch of presents on Christmas morning is not going to work.  The sensory overload that all the new toys and having to touch all the paper to unwrap it, and the sound of the paper ripping would cause would take us days to get her to unwind.

We discovered that last year.

It took at least 30 minutes to open each gift.  And my mid-afternoon she was completely done.

So we’ve decided to do things a bit differently this year.  It’s not the way we want to do things, but at this point we can see no other options.

Each evening in the week leading up to Christmas we’ll let her open one gift and then give her the evening to play with and enjoy it.  One new toy, hours to explore it, no pressure.

We *think* this will be enough to let everyone enjoy Christmas without the stress.

It makes us sad that these measures are even necessary.  We would love to have a normal Christmas.  To have a child who is excited Christmas morning and wakes us up at 4am to see if Santa has left her any gifts under the tree.

And maybe as she gets older and learns to manage these sensory overloads, we might be able to have that.

But until that time, holidays at our house will be the 12 days of Christmas rather than one big day of celebrations.

VistaDay1 I'm Dreaming of a Normal Christmas

 I'm Dreaming of a Normal Christmas
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20 Responses to I'm Dreaming of a Normal Christmas

  • FireMom says:

    We do what we have to for our kids, don’t we? That said, I hope you enjoy your evenings this week. Sending our best!
    .-= FireMom´s last blog ..Gloves, Judgment and Tears =-.

    Jenn Reply:



    It’s true. No one ever tells you all the little concessions you will make just to keep your kids happy when you first become a mom. lol.

  • First, Victoria is sitting next to me and is completely convinced that is a picture of herself.

    Secondly, man, I would have killed to get a new present every day for a week! That’s pretty cool, if a little different. :)

    Every family has different traditions. This is just (might become) one of your family’s “things we do”
    .-= thepsychobabble´s last blog ..My Vehicles Hate Winter, Too =-.

    Jenn Reply:


    HA!! You’ll have to send me a picture of Victoria now so I can show V. lol

    I said the same thing to Bil last night. This getting a present every day can’t be all bad. Then every day is a new toy to play with and it’s not just one big ‘bang’ then it’s done. Wow…that sounds really dirty, but it’s not meant to be.

    And that’s a good point. There’s nothing to say that this can’t be our own Christmas tradition and just the way we have our holidays.

  • Vixen says:

    It doesn’t sound ‘normal’ to you, but like the lovely (and smart) Jenn said above you may just create a new tradition for your family that other people will envy. And everyone knows, we sacrifice for our kids. If they had told me how much before I had kids, I probably would have opted out.
    .-= Vixen´s last blog ..ode to christmas tree =-.

    Jenn Reply:


    ROFL. You and me both, girl. I had NO idea what I was signing up for when I became a mom.

  • Avasmommy says:

    Normal is highly overrated. I think what you’re doing is awesome. Instead of getting to watch her excitement just once on Christmas morning, you get to experience it many times over. I think it’s a great approach, and in reality I think it would work equally well with all kids under 3 when the enormity of it all can just be too much.

    I’m always impressed with your creativity. Vista is so lucky to have both you and Bil.
    .-= Avasmommy´s last blog ..Things You Always Wanted to Know or Things You Never Really Cared About =-.

    Jenn Reply:


    I think you and I both know there’s no way our kids will ever be normal, despite our best efforts.

    If nothing else, V is teaching Bil and I to think outside, around, and underneath the box on a regular basis. It does keep us on our toes.

  • Kellee says:

    That DOES sound like a very smart way to approach it, I hope you’ll all be able to enjoy yourself. I’m new to your blog, so clearly I have some catching up to do! Merry Christmas, however it comes to you :)

    Jenn Reply:


    Thanks Kelle, so do I. And so far so good. Although even just opening one toy seems to be quite overwhelming for her, so I’m very glad we decided to space it out.

  • I can so relate to how you feel. Having had a child with similar issues I yearned for the normal I believed everyone else had. Let me tell you, you are not the only parentmaking concessions for your child in this way so that you all can enjoy the holidays (insert any other activity and event there). For you, and for us so long ago, this is normal. You are making such wise and attentive decisions to make your little girls holidays peaceful and full of joy. In the meantime it sounds like you are having a normal Hanukkah!

    Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect or normal to be beautiful and joyous. (((hugs)))
    .-= Kim @ Beautiful Wreck´s last blog ..Clarity =-.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Kim @ Beautiful Wreck,

    LOL! Once again you are the perfect voice of reason. And your right. Just because we’re not doing what everyone else is doing doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.

    Thank you for that reminder.

  • Lisa says:

    Normal, who needs normal. You are creating a tradition that puts Vista’s needs, and your own, first, that is some awesome parenting if you ask me. Just think of how much she will love getting something new every night for a week, I think most kids would kill for that to be “normal” :) You guys are so awesome for seeing what Vista needs and adjusting to meet those needs. Way to go.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Meaning =-.

    Jenn Reply:


    Yeah, it just means we need to be organized that much ahead of time. No last minute shopping. Dammit. lol

  • AmazingGreis says:

    Normal is what you make of it. If ya’ll continue to do 12 days of Christmas for years and years that will be V’s normal. You gotta do what works for your family. Merry 12 days of Christmas to you all!
    .-= AmazingGreis´s last blog ..I (heart) Faces – Week 49 =-.

  • you know what though? i think it’s awesome that you’re THAT in tune to her and know what to do to make it special for her w/o her suffering or having anxiety. it’s awesome, jenn.

  • Issa says:

    It’s like Hanukkah and Christmas. I hope as she gets older it gets easier for you guys. However, family traditions are all different. Yours can be whatever works for you.

    Have you considered doing bags, instead of paper? And not using tissue paper? Then she can just reach in and grab it and she doesn’t have to touch much paper and stuff?
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Taking a break =-.

  • Issa says:

    Oh and ps? We used to take half the gifts we got Morgan and put them away. We’d give them to her throughout the year. Haven’t needed to do that in a few years…maybe since she turned five. It’s not the same as a ton of gifts on Christmas, but on a random day in January or February, a new gift can be nice for them.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Taking a break =-.

  • jenn- i wanna come have christmas at your house. opening gifts the entire week up to the actual day… that sounds like a family tradition in the making. “normal” is overrated. vista is beautiful and wonderful and has two of the most loving and willing parents in the entire world. what a gift you and bil are to her. the way you are celebrating in your house sounds very serene and family-oriented. what else could one ask for? xoxo to you and yours.
    .-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..the ugly truth =-.

  • Pres. Kathy says:

    I think it is more fun to open one gift a day!

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