Christmas Magic


This Christmas was special. We got to spend so much time with our friends and family. My cousin Tony even welcomed his baby boy, Max, into the world all the way over in China as we kicked off our celebrations in Oregon last weekend.

Our kids really brought the Christmas spirit to life this year. I don’t think we knew what we had been missing in previous years. I’ll admit, I have been quite Scrooge-ish in the past because, honestly, trying to get Wilson to engage and care was just exhausting. 

A few years ago, we could barely get him interested enough to open a present. Even the kind in a gift bag with one piece of tissue on it.  This year, however, our main struggle was stopping him from opening every present he came upon. 

Yes, this year was different. Both Wilson and Charlie wanted all the Christmas music (except Silent Night, for some reason that’s a hard NO for Wilson), holiday shows and books, and even waved “hello” every time we passed all the Santa decor that adorned the neighborhood yards. Our tree lights were lit for their every waking minute and the countdown to Santa and our extended family’s arrival was discussed daily. 

Charlie’s face when she realized that Santa ate all her cookies and the reindeer ate the carrots, too?! Priceless.


The excitement in her sweet voice when she told everyone that Santa gave her a new toothbrush in her stocking? The cutest.

Wilson used to prefer to be alone, and this year he wanted to be on top of everyone, spreading happiness and probably a few bruises, too (he does NOT. Slow. Down.)


He not only obliged us in wearing matching Christmas jammies (long sleeve! (Thanks, auntie!)) with his sis but he insisted on wearing them for days!?


We had our share of struggles, and there were some memories made that Wilson was noticeably absent from. We are still finding a balance of when and where outings can be successful for him.  Tears were shed at one point or another by most of us, but all the beautiful, messy magic is what’s still weighing sweetly on my heart, even days later. 

Who knows, maybe next year we’ll even be ready to take on this Elf on the Shelf madness.




Sensory-Friendly Santa, we are so thankful for you.


Wilson was so excited when we told him we were going to see Santa.  He had done well with this same visit last year.  Our local mall allows appointments for children who struggle with sensory processing to be made before the mall opens for the day. This means no crowds or long lines and it’s calm and quiet. 

There is a super easy-going Santa and patient elves and you don’t have to explain any behaviors to anyone. Honestly, without this sensory-friendly option, we wouldn’t have attempted a Santa visit.

Wilson allowed us to put him in his nice (uncomfortable) clothing, even including his adorable reindeer sweater even though it had long sleeves and he hates wearing long sleeves.


When we got out of the car in the nearly empty parking garage, we heard another family returning to their car with a toddler in tow who was in the midst of a knock-down-drag-out-screaming-meltdown. David and I looked at each other, and we smiled. I’m not sure why, I know that reaction seems horrible.  I think it’s because that has been us. That is usually always us. It’s funny how something so simple can immediately make you feel less alone.

We were a little early, so the kids played on the outdoor play structure while we waited.  The dreaded wait. Our boy struggles to wait for anything. Waiting means time and opportunity for that pesky, fun-sucking anxiety to sneak into his sweet little body and basically ruin whatever the wait was for in the first place. 


It didn’t take long and he was done.  He started screaming, which was surprisingly loud in the nearly empty mall. He ran over and kicked a sign, then a wall. Kicking?  I remember making a mental note of this new behavior.

Saved by Santa, it was our turn to enter his little living room.  Once we were inside, the jolly man in the red suit might as well have been invisible. Wilson was compulsively searching for a train, I’m guessing one that he saw last year, which was not where he had left it.  It was all he could focus on. In his mind, and in his world, things were just not right.  His memory and intense preoccupations are truly incredible. And frustrating. 

This is autism.

The rest of his day was blown. It was spent counting, sorting and repeating phrases he has learned from shows in attempt to create order and reorganize himself.

santa mad

I had seen that going much better in my head. I found myself wondering if these kinds of outings are even worth it. 

Without this sensory-friendly option, we wouldn’t have come. We would have missed playing on the playground and this adorable photo that, even with the stressful memory attached, still shows a boy who has made SO much progress.

We’ll be back next year.