Although it isn’t something I’m asked about when someone initially finds out I’m autistic, I’ve definitely been asked a few times about how I celebrate big celebratory events like Christmases and birthdays. I’ve seen discussions about it in online, too, with some people even offering advice on how to help autistic people adapt to Christmas without meltdowns and upsets, and others simply discussing how they celebrate Christmas. While I don’t necessarily feel comfortable in giving advice, I thought it would be nice to write about some of the traditions we have in my family.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this very much on my blog before, but I’m not the only autistic person in my household. As a result of this, the way we celebrate accommodates more than one person. Even then, everyone’s individual preferences are taken into consideration when it comes to the way my family celebrates Christmas. It’s definitely true that a lot of things others may consider to be out of the ordinary for a lot of people are things that have been traditions within my family since I can remember, so to me they seem quite normal because I haven’t known any different.
One of the most obvious ways in which we go against normal traditions on Christmas day is by having a buffet out instead of sitting down and eating a turkey dinner like most people do. This is definitely the one I’ve had the most response to when I’ve brought it in discussions with friends, however, through my observation of other people talking about this, it seems to be growing ever more popular as time goes on. This tradition has been one we’ve had for as many Christmases as I can remember, and is a matter of convenience more than anything. Besides, no one I live with really likes turkey, anyway, so going into all that effort wouldn’t be worth it for us.
Something I’ve only really noticed since I sat down to write this blog post is that we’ve never gone out on Christmas day. Although in the past we’ve had family visiting, we’ve never ourselves visited anyone. While this may seem antisocial to some, it allows me and my family to enjoy time together in a safe space where we feel comfortable. In my case, I find it so nice to sit, relax and not feel the pressure of having to act as neurotypical as possible in order to avoid offending or weirding out those around me. I also see it as a way of reserving energy for New Year’s Eve, as we tend to see extended family and friends around this period instead.
We also don’t change the decorations we use very much, unless completely necessary. This year we have made more changes than normal, including buying a new artificial tree, because floods meant that a lot of our decorations became too damp and musty to use again, but usually, we use the same things as we had in the year before, perhaps with a few new additions.
Whilst I’m sure there are probably other things people could look at about our Christmas celebrations and consider autistic-specific things, nothing else really stands out to me. To be honest, when I’m celebrating Christmas, I don’t really think about my disability at all—and I’m so, so lucky in that sense, because I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people.
Do you have any other Christmas traditions in your family that you want to share, or do you do something that I’ve mentioned here?
Merry Christmas, and until next time,