The other day, while helping my son off the public transport van that carries him to and from his day-hab program, one of his fellow riders and classmates asked me a question that caught me by surprise. “Does Santa come for Brett?” he asked with earnest concern in his voice and on his face.
Full disclosure, Christmas is not the gigantic holiday for my family that it is for many others. I enjoy putting up an outdoor lighting display (and I enjoy it so much that if I could, I would leave them up, and light them up, year-round), and the wife puts a wreath on the front door, but it’s been more than a decade since we put up a tree inside. There’s only the three of us, with no other family around, and our gift exchanging tends to be modest and focused on the practical. Most of our celebration revolves around special meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Brett is too low level to understand any of the symbolism or pageantry of the season. He has a favorite toy that gets most of his attention, and the last time I bought him a different toy, it took more than a year for him to warm up to it enough to engage with it at all (without giving up the old one). Autism is an odd thing. He sometimes gets new clothes, and we do get him some special candies, which he always enjoys.
So when the question was asked, I hesitated briefly before responding with an honest “Yes.” and the young man followed up by asking what we get for him. I explained that we get him candy, and that seemed to be a satisfactory answer that eased his concern.
The point of this is not the degree to which we do, or don’t, celebrate Christmas. It’s how I marveled that another young man with his own I/DD issues could show so much concern for my own son’s happiness in this season of giving. The wonders of the holidays are perpetually awesome.
I wish for all our friends of The Arc the warmth and joy that comes with whatever and however you celebrate this time of year. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to achieving even more in the year ahead.