Redefining Typical

A Mother, A Son, A Journey…..with Autism

It’s a Griswold, I mean a Graves, kind of Christmas January 10, 2014

Filed under: Autism and the Holiday — Cheairs @ 1:44 pm
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I think he is not paying attention.

Oh, but he is.

The traditions.

The rituals that are our Christmas.

He knows them all.


We are a Griswold kind of family when it comes to holidays.

Dave is on the roof putting up lights.

Eight inflatables adorn our front yard.

There are twinkling candy canes that line the walkway to our front door.

The trees in the front yard are wrapped in white and red lights to make what we call the”candy candy” forest.

Then there are the lights, lights, and more lights.

I mean, we’ve got it all.

The only thing we are missing is the baby Jesus next to the inflatable Santa.

And my kids love it.

Margaret-Ann outside helping her daddy put them all up.

Dawson watching from his bedroom window, jumping up and down as the large balloon characters come to life.



They know.

This ritual.

Our Christmas.


Then there is the tree.

Oh, the majestic Christmas tree.

We go to the same Christmas tree farm every year.

The Christmas tree farm that not only has trees but also two sheep.

Trees and sheep.

It really does not get any better than that.

And we sing songs in the car as we drive to our holiday destination.

Dawson making the request for specific holiday tunes.

Dave, Margaret-Ann, and I are clapping, snapping, and singing the requested music.

Dave adding in some beat box rhythm to our Frosty the Snowman rendition, while I drum on the dashboard.

Margaret-Ann rolling her eyes because mom and dad doing the air band thing to Christmas songs is evidentally not all that cool.


Like I said.

We have Griswold written all over us.


When we arrive at the tree farm, Dave and Margaret-Ann hop out of the car to grab a saw and search for the perfect tree.

Because her job.

One that she is most proud of.

Is to pick the tree.

And my sweet boy.

We stay back.

He unbuckles his seat belt and lies on the floor of the minivan.

He curls himself into a ball.

He covers his eyes in excitement.

I push the remote of the minivan and the back gate of the car opens.

I crawl over the captain chairs and sit on the last row of seats.

He is next to me.

He lifts his head.

He smiles.

“Get a Christmas tree.”

“Sit in the car.”

“See the sheep.”

I nod.

I touch his head.

His thick soft curls wrap around my fingers.

“Yes, we can just sit in the car. Is that what you want to do?”

His voice giddy.


He peeks over the top of the back seat.

“And see the sheep and stay in the car.”

I put my arm around him.

“Yes, we can sit in the car and watch the sheep from here. Yes, we can stay in the car.”

With his body now halfway over the back seat.

“And Daddy and Margaret-Ann get the tree.”

I rub his back.

“Yes, Daddy and Margaret-Ann get the tree.”

He plops himself back on the seat next to me.

He makes his usual request for water and pretzels.

And we sit.

And we peek out the back.

And we repeat words.

And we sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

And he tries to sit in the driver’s seat.

And he tries to crawl in the very back on the car and rummage through all of the water bottles, sun screen, McDonald’s toys that fill this most precious space.

And he.


They know.

This tradition.

It is ours.


Christmas is now over.

The lights, lights, and more lights have been taken down.

I sit at the computer.

I close my eyes.

And I see my sweet boy.

His body sandwiched between the blinds and the window in his room.

His fingers and nose pressed against the cold window.

The lights from our Griswold decorated front yard shining through the panes and touching his ten year old feet.

And I stand in the doorway of his room.

And I hear his words.

So soft.

So loud.

“Waiting for Santa.”

He comes from behind the blinds.

In his sing-song voice he says the words again.

“Waiting for Santa.”

Looking for the repetition.

Seeking all that is rhythmic and right.

I walk toward him.

“Yes, buddy. We are waiting for Santa.”

His fingers flap and I feel the excitement in the air beneath his feet as he jumps.

My Margaret-Ann who has made the leap that Mommy and Daddy are the “spirit of Christmas” walks into the room.

And she gives me the gift of holding onto all things magical this night as she reminds me that we need to get milk and cookies for Santa.

I will hold these moments.

Etched on this page.

All that he knows.

She knows.



I mean Graves.

Family Christmas.

Copyright Cheairs Graves January 8, 2014


2 Responses to “It’s a Griswold, I mean a Graves, kind of Christmas”

  1. Ann Davies Says:

    I want to come to your house for Christmas! We don’t get to saw our tree down or see sheep at our tree place, and we don’t have a candy, candy forest in our front yard either! The Graves Christmas sounds pretty amazing to me! Your family is precious and I love how you embrace and love your sweet children for exactly who they are!!!!

  2. Oh Cheairs! I adore this! What a wonderful experience for your kids, your family. It feeds my soul!

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