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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Please Make Christmas STOP!

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Finding celebrations and parties stressful
*Sensitivity to sensory input
*Honesty and bluntness

What exactly did the Grinch hate about Christmas, and why? I just listened to the beginning of How the Grinch Stole Christmas read aloud. It seems that mean ol' Mr. Grinch particularly hated the noise, the feasting, and the hand-holding, singing, group-hug type stuff. What's so bad about any of that?

I'm here to state that if you've got an extreme case of Asperger's syndrome, there's plenty to complain about right there.

Yesterday, I was tired after the previous day of editing (my part-time job), then volunteering at church that morning, then sitting at a park bench trying to relax. But I needed new shoes and decided to push myself and go right then, instead of heading home for a soak in the tub. Guess what greeted me at the two shoe stores I entered? Christmas music!!!! And not even peaceful, classical music, or cheery, childlike music. No, this was more like grate-on-your nerves, annoy-you-to-tears, get-me-outta-here Christmas music - what I would call poor quality. But I needed shoes. So, like the Grinch did for 53 years before he made up his mind to put a stop to Christmas, I endured the noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE, all to try on lots of shoes that pinched my feet in every possible place.

Ironic, isn't it, that Dr. Suess suggested that the Grinch's sour attitude might be because his shoes were too tight . . . I can understand that.

And the feasting the Grinch abhorred so much? Is that so negative to an Aspie? Um, yes. What is the exact purpose of feasting, my friends? Is it to make people feel bloated, stuffed, fat, and slothful? Because we usually do . . . don't we? Yet most people think feasting is a social activity that must not be skipped! They think gulping down cookies and brownies the size of soap cakes has to be done for the sake of dear old Grandma, who baked four dozen too many. For me, an Aspie who can reason her way out of the tightest mental maze, this being-nice-to-Grandma stuff just does not compute. Grandma is not that easily hurt by anything her grandbabies refuse to do. Besides, this Aspie is full already, and if she eats anymore, she will be - oh, no, not that! - UNCOMFORTABLE. Mr. Grinch, you have my empathy!

Then there's everybody's favorite part of Christmas - the Christmas programs! Yay! During the month of December, let's make a worldwide pact to place the highest, most stringent, most grueling and "rewarding" of expectations on our choir members, musicians, actors, and ESPECIALLY - ooh, Grammy and Gramps can't wait for this part - our children. This year's Christmas program will be better than last year's . . . or else.

Let's get together and stand in our too-tight shoes, hour after hour, rehearsing on weekends and weeknights, singing our hearts out to Jesus, while all the moms meanwhile try to remember if they forgot to buy a present for cousin what's-his-name whose likes and dislikes have changed forty times since last year. Let's insist on perfection from our children and call it "musical training." Oh, yeah, that sounds like perpetual fun. I vote we do that again next year!

Can you hear my sarcasm, y'all? Thought I'd better check to make sure the Aspies don't take me literally.

So! Solutions for the Grinch in all of us may include:
1) Thanking the Lord that December is only 1/12 of the full year.
2) Making sure our shoes fit right.
3) Cutting back on those social obligations. I really hate to disappoint my friends, but I'll hate it worse if I turn into a grump-a-lump for my family after one party too many. And in December, what with all that NOISE, one party is definitely too many for me. Come spend time with me one-on-one if you miss me, folks. :)
4) Participating in programs? Yeah, it's fun, but I've been there, and I've done that, and I'm done. Lord willing, I'll never sing in a Christmas choir again. Bad things happen. Things like car accidents the night of the second Christmas banquet because I was too tired to pay attention . . . and trips to the hospital in January because I overdid it performing in two plays and a piano recital during the Christmas season. I'd prefer to learn from my mistakes.
5) Realizing that people probably won't hate you if you don't give them a present or three or seven. If they stop being your friend after you accidentally/on purpose forgot their Christmas present, hey, who wants friends like that, anyway? Give them just-because-you-love-them gifts throughout the year, and see if that doesn't touch their hearts more!
6)Remembering that what Jesus taught about the Sabbath could very well apply to the holiday season as well. People were not made for the sake of Christmas, but Christmas was made for the sake of people. It's the time when we are supposed to be celebrating God's love for us, like the Whos down in Whoville, who liked Christmas a lot. It's good to like Christmas if Christmas truly brings you closer to Jesus and closer to the people Jesus came for.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Mark 2:27
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath

Isaiah 30:15
For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

2 Corinthians 9:7
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.