Friday, November 8, 2013

Holidays, 2e, and the Man in the Red Suit

Holidays, 2e, and the Man in the Red Suit

I didn't think I'd be dealing with the Man in the Red Suit on Nov. 2nd (the day before my son turned 8 years old), but I did.  Or we did.  My husband, 2e son, and I went to a local church fair.  The Man in the Red Suit was there - at least upstairs on the second floor and out of sight of the first floor where the fair was held.  Still, I didn't think about potentially seeing Santa Claus on Nov. 2nd.  That's two days after Halloween.  That's too early in my book.  I don't care if it's a local church fair or not.  Actually, that's beyond too early for me.

When we entered the local church fair, Santa Claus was on the second floor, upstairs.  I thought the coast was clear.  I thought, "phew.  We can quickly scan the booths without bumping or encountering Santa and then leave without an ordeal or a meltdown."  After all, the booths for the fair were located on the first floor or downstairs.  They were out of sight of Santa.  Well, that's what I thought.  Of course, it didn't entirely work out that way.

When one of the women running the church fair mentioned to my son that Santa Claus was there, I wanted to kill her and then Santa Claus.  I know that's not very charitable or Christian of me.  I'm sorry.  I had it that day.  As soon as she had said that Santa Claus was there, my 2e son went crazy and had a meltdown leaving.  And I knew we would.  It didn't matter that it's not the real Santa Claus on Nov. 2nd or, in my book, a 'helper' or whatever you want to call it.  

Rationality went out the window.  My 2e son lost it.  He insisted that it was the REAL Santa.  My husband and I were destroying his hopes and dreams by thwarting him to see Santa.  I wanted to scream and burn down the church.  Then expunge any future Santa Clauses as well.  I know.  This sounds kind of harsh.  Sorry.  

I now dread Santa Claus and the sensory over stimulation and hoopla with the holidays.  I agree with Psychology Today's article about ending the Santa Claus myth ( Personally, I'm all for it.  It's just too much on some kids like my 2e son.  He gets overexcited and then has difficulty unwinding and coming down to earth.

So how do you cope with the hoopla and excitement with the holidays with a 2e child?  I try to avoid Santa Claus encounters like the plague.  In our family, we keep the holidays under wrap, as simple, and minimalist as possible.  We don't have ornaments or tree up until the last minute.  That's 12 days or so before the holidays in our home.  Even then, we have a cheap, plastic tabletop Christmas tree which my husband and I bought at Walgreen's for $2.50 years ago.  That's enough, we say.  We don't do big holiday dinners or big family events.  We're not really able to do big family things anyway since neither side lives near us; my husband's family is in the UK.  So we Skype.

For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, we try to keep things simple.  I cook a lot of vegetables and dishes ahead.  I don't cook a turkey or go all out.  Sometimes we have Indian curries.  Sometimes we don't.  Last year was our first holiday season being dairy-free, grain-free, nearly sugar-free, soy-free, corn-free, and anything-else that I can't remember free.  We still had butternut squash, peas, and carrots, but we skipped the overindulgent food and high-fat/high-sugar/high-everything else foods of prior years.  We substituted black bean brownies and grain-free chocolate cake for what we previously had.  None of us had the sugar highs or lows or other effects and we were better for it.

One of the hardest parts, though, are the presents.  Even though we try to curb and circumvent the presents, it always seems like my 2e son gets lots.  My husband's family sends us the packages weeks before my son opens them.  I literally lock them away in a room until December 25th.  This helps.  We shuffle presents around and hide various ones if my son seems uninterested in them.  This helps too.  I still hate it though and it still seems too much.

What else can we do to cope?  Keep your expectations low.  Like rock bottom if necessary.  In the UK, I could avoid Thanksgiving.  They don't go overboard with the holidays either.  A few outside lights and people think it's Las Vegas.  Here, it's unreal.  So keep things in perspective.  Many Americans overindulge and go overboard.  It doesn't mean you have to as well.