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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Night Before Christmas: I Know. . .

Yeah, I know, it's probably been too long.  It's definitely approaching the point where I can no longer remember specific details about the evening and start waxing rhapsodic about things that I will only later realize are not my own memories but things I read in a book or watched on a movie.  But that's because I'm starting to get older and lose my mind.  I did want to share some of our holiday fun, but at the time it just seemed like so much.

We host Christmas Eve at our house, so there's always quite a bit of activity then, plus Christmas is full, and then post Christmas Christmas, which is what all married couples do, where they travel from house to house, Christmas to Christmas, so that each family can be "Together on Christmas" if only for a little while.  Then after all the Christmases are over there's New Year's Eve, then the taking down of decorations and taking back of presents.  And, at least in our case, the visiting of various doctors and specialists and on and on.

So there's never been a good time to get started on a blog about Christmas Eve, so I'll try to make it short and sweet.  I'm almost pathologically incapable of that, but if it's under two pages single spaced let's agree that's "short".

Without delving too deeply into each family's Christmas Eve traditions, ours is this:  
Each Christmas Eve we host my sister and her kids, my parents, and my in-laws for supper.  We meet at our church beforehand, and afterward we return to our house.  We cook surf and turf; filets are grilled and lobsters boiled.  After dinner we drink wine or eggnog or whatever, eat Christmas cookies and open one present each.  Then everyone leaves and I put the spudlings to bed after reading, "The Night Before Christmas", which I could have sworn was actually supposed to be called, "A Visit From St. Nicklaus", but whatever.

I paid lip service to keeping my expectations for Lily's behavior grounded, and I think if I'm being honest, we did pretty well by her.  She was pretty good all-in-all, but for some reason she was pretty revved up before church.  Maybe it was the changing of the clothes or the taking of the pictures, but she was very stimmy and had a lot of weird facial tics going on, and I wasn't sure how she'd do at church.  I tried to take pictures of the kids before church, and these represent the best pictures of Lily, and Lily and Emma together (respectively) that I could manage.  
"I must look at you"
After about the tenth picture Emma started to lose interest and there are about ten more pictures of her draped impatiently over the ottoman, contorting her body into ridiculous poses of exaggerated disgust, praying for me to end the torture so she could go back to whatever it was she'd been doing before I started taking pictures.  


Worst.  Day.  Ever.
But really, we were just about to walk out the door regardless.  I mean, we do know our daughter.  We know our daughters, plural, of course, but we get Lily dressed up in her finest only a few minutes before we walk out the door, because potty training is still something of a crap shoot.  Heh.  Crap shoot.  So we don't like to put her in tights if we think there's a chance we'll be changing her a few minutes later.  So anyway, we got out in the car, and of course Leslie forgot something at the last minute.  And I'm not trying to throw Leslie under the bus because if she was writing this blog (apart from it being about half as long) it would be me in the role of the forgetter (this morning I had the kids in the car and the only thing stopping us from driving to daycare was my inability to locate the keys, which turned out to be in the coat I'd worn the previous day).  So I captured one last picture of Emma and I, pre-church.  Muuuuch better mood at this point because were were almost ready to go to church, people!  Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Yay Jesus!


And we got to church without incident.  Usually I sit in the car with Lily, because she doesn't like being cooped up, and I don't really like church all that much, so that's a win-win for us. . . but today, what the hell!  We went in.  And you know what?  She was pretty darn good.


Except then we did some preemptive damage control with the people in front of us.  We sorta laid it out like this (in a nutshell):  Hi, we just wanted to give you a heads up that our daughter is autistic, and sometimes gets into other people's space and may actually toss a cheez-it or two in your hair at some point during the service so. . . we'll do our best to keep your hair clean if you'll do your best to be patient with her and us.  


Yes, we played the autism card early.  I think that's actually sort of appropriate and polite to do when you know people around you are all packed in tight and may not be super understanding of a six year old tossing things like half chewed fruit snacks into the hoods of their coats.


Anyway, the older lady, she was probably in her early seventies, was really nice and understanding and even went so far as to get right down on Lily's level and attempt to make friends with her.  Which was when Lily slapped her right across her face.


"And that's why your daddy is going to hell."
And then I said, "Hahaha, in your face, lady!  I told you she would get in your personal space!  But would you listen?  Noooooo!"


Of course I didn't really say that.  I was mortified and we apologized and moved Lily into the pew behind us with my sister.  Actually, it was funny because my in-laws and parents had gone early to get two pews saved for us, and I told Leslie, "That's a great idea, because then Lily will sit behind family instead of strangers, and it won't stress us out if she decides to yank on family's hair vs. random stranger's hair."


But when we got there, we still put her in the front pew until she slapped the friendly lady right in her friendly face, and then logic prevailed and she moved back to sit with her aunt.


It was pretty cool, because Lily doesn't get to see her Aunt Dawn as often as she'd like, so for whatever reason she was absolutely riveted by everything and anything that came out of her mouth, and they'd stand and sit and stand again (at the prompting of some unspoken shared catholic hivemind), and my sister talked quietly to her and kept her out of mischief.


All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for her at church, behaviorally, (lady slappings notwithstanding) and the only real issue she had was such a dramatic one that it could have tainted the whole thing for us, but I(we) was(were) really in that whole keep things realistic zone, and all "I don't know that lady, so Lily can slap her silly for all I care," so while it was sort of a bummer, it was nothing we couldn't move past.


I left just after Mass with Lily because she was starting to get a little antsy, and Leslie and Emma rode home with the rest of the family to meet us a few minutes later.  She stayed dry until we got home, where she had an accident and I changed her into jammies (why doesn't the blogger dictionary recognize "jammies"?) for the evening (it was about 5 p.m. at that point).  After dinner she started spinning out of control and that's when we applied the lesson from her birthday, which was:  "She doesn't like opening presents like we want her to like opening presents" and when it became apparent that she was extremely tired (lots of yawns, eye rubbing and "behavior"). . . I read her the story, and put her to bed, saving her extra present for the next morning. . . and it didn't faze her one bit.


The rest of the evening went great until the Bumpus' damn dogs ran through the open screen door and knocked the turkey on the floor ruining Christmas!


Or possibly that last part was a movie.  I told you it's been too long!

37 comments:

  1. Haha, I like Lily's style. People should listen when you give the personal space talk and KEEP OUT! I feel like that in crowded spaces and I don't have autism to blame, erm, I mean explain my "behaviour". Sounds like Lily did pretty well for one of the most uncomfortable days on the calendar!

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    1. oh my god oh my god oh my god!! Blogger has a reply function now!!! It's like Christmas all OVER again. That's the one reason I was going to consider changing to Wordpress!!

      Um. . . back to your comment. . . The lady was being nice, the slapping thing is something we're working on with Lily, and honestly she wasn't super IN HER FACE, if you know what I mean, just sort of in range. . . and the lady was really super cool about getting smacked.

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  2. I have been waiting forever for this post! Thank you.

    We throw popcorn in our 15yo's hood at Youth Basketball games all the time. She never finds it till she gets home.

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    1. it's different when it's fruit snacks. . . they stick

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  3. Not bad, Lily!!! I'm really impressed she sat in church at all, even if there was a little incident. SOunds like you all did a good job with her.

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    1. We took her to church last week or the week before and she was AWESOME. No punchings slappings or hair pullings.

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  4. Hahahah how did you not crack up when she slapped that woman?!? Sorry, I'm terrible.

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    1. At the moment I was mortified. But when I read what I wrote. . . dispassionately. . . it makes me chuckle.

      But yeah, you're terrible.

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  5. Great job, Lily. And you certainly have a way with words. Love the photo captions!

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    1. Well THANK you, Jennifer (Jen/Jenn/Jennifer? Preference?)!

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  6. Love all the pictures! You guys are WAY braver than we are. There is NO way we'd attempt church with Tootles at Christmas... we've used up all the bail money on presents by then...

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    1. And Christmas Mass means TWO collections, so you'd have had to shrug when the ol' man passed the basket TWICE. Twice the guilt means twice as much heaven though, in the Catholic faith, so you'd probably have secured yourself a spot at the left hand of the father (You know, cause the right hand is Jesus' spot and he totally called place-backs)

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  7. I'm still laughing at the "Yay, Jesus!" Caption...anywho, sounds like a pretty good Christmas. Take those little successes as they come! My Tate has different present opening techniques than we would expect, too. We just kind of let him "do his thing" at Christmas, and we were all better off for doing that.

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  8. I took Katie to Midnight Mass (which happened to be at 11 this year) and she did pretty good but she was so tired (even though I tried to get her to take a nap before hand) that she couldn't hold still, was very flappy and whiny. It was a new experience for us, and I had to take her by myself because the Hubby was at work. All in all, other than some serious whining and trying to lay down and sleep in the pew, she did great. Sounds like Lily did a great job. Good for her!

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    1. Lily goes to bed pretty much at 8. Much past 8 and we start to see more and more behaviors. Midnight mass would NEVER fly.

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  9. I would totally go to church with Lily anytime. That's mostly because I don't like church, so that would make it much more entertaining for me. I mean, she kind of had it coming. Duh, lady, I just finished telling you my kid has autism.

    P.S. Awesome ending to your short (ahem) post. I hate those damn dogs.

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    1. You can go in my place. I'll stay home and worship in my own way (by not worshiping)

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  10. At our Christmas Eve service, someone actually asked me where my Lily was, like why I didn't have her there with me. I actually laughed in their face. Not as dramatic as slapping, I know.... but us preachers' wives get in big trouble if we hit someone.....

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    1. I guess, but you can at least say something like "JESUS HEAL THIS WOMAN" when you do it and nobody calls the cops.

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  11. Dude im just pumped about the reply button

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  12. You have gotten further than I ever dare dream--thru the church doors.

    And the old lady was clearly in Lilly's bubble and had it coming to her.

    Next year, do what we did and order Chinese food, that way the turkey won't get knocked over.

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  13. I'm so glad church went well. Tommy is at the point where he'll sometimes go, "I have Aspergers. Hello."

    I giggled at your "Yay Jesus!" caption.

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    1. hahah. . . I have Aspergers, Hello! I like that. I should try, "I'm obnoxious. Hello!"

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  14. I'm glad church worked out for you guys. Aside from the bitch-slap; although one day (if not already) I'm sure will provide you and your family with many chuckles.

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    1. I can chuckle about just about anything. But AT THAT MOMENT. . . it was not so funny.

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  15. I love your take on church. And Aunt Dawn clearly rocks, what with that caption and all. Merry Belated Christmas.

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    1. Yeah, Aunt Dawn rocks. Happy Belated New Year too!

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  16. Great post! I hadn't even thought about all the prep that goes into a church visit for a child with autism! There should be some sort of Papal dispensation for parents with special needs children, where you can show up in your jammies or something.

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    1. Thanks! They have a cry room, and I suppose we could use it when she's loud, but she's actually pretty good at church in general, all things considered.

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  17. It's never too late for A Christmas Story. You always have the best pics, Jim.

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  18. Damn Bumpus! great post. I still haven't written about N-Zilla and Christmas. Your girls look adorable. (we cnt take N-Zilla to midnight mass either. That is a definite no-go).

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    1. I know. . . i had like three christmas blogs I was going to write if christmas would ever have ended, but the holiday just kept going on and on!!

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