LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

GreatPumpkin

Is YOUR pumpkin patch sincere enough for the Great Pumpkin?

Well, let's start with the fact that Santa has never, to my knowledge, appeared in a Charlie Brown holiday special. Also, Santa is not a pumpkin – and everyone knows that pumpkins are just about the greatest thing on the planet. And all that emphasis on “naughty” and “nice” pretty much takes the fun out of everything.

The reason I prefer the Great Pumpkin: No pressure. Unlike Christmas, Halloween comes with very little pre-determined, expected ritual celebration, and if you do nothing but stay home all night and hand out candy to other kids, it's still considered a success. Likewise, we have never been disappointed on Flag Day, President's Day or Columbus Day. And nobody celebrates Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (January 31) as well as the Broadfeet.

Last year on Halloween, Billy watched “The Great Pumpkin” while wearing his astronaut Halloween costume, cried in the floor for a little while and then went to bed before the first trick-or-treater arrived. Willow stayed up and wowed all the little goblins who came to our door with her adorable FSU cheerleader outfit.

On the whole, though, holidays are a mixed bag in our house. I'm a celebrator, as I've pointed out here before. I have a pathological need to create the ULTIMATE holiday experience for my kids at every single opportunity. And it has taken me four years to get it through my head that my son just doesn't enjoy all the same things other kids do.

Let me be clear: He is a very happy kid. He enjoys a LOT of things. In fact, he enjoys the heck out of some things to which normally developing children probably wouldn't give a passing thought. Acorns, for instance. He has always loved them, been fascinated by them, and this time of year, they are everywhere. And have I mentioned how much he loves pumpkins?

He does not, though, enjoy endless Christmas present-opening, particularly when accompanied by the obligatory photo opp of Billy holding each aforementioned gift. He would just as soon spend all day playing with the same toys he's played with all year. In fact, he would just as soon spend the day playing with acorns and pumpkins.

S_WillowCheer5

My neurotypical child's Halloween face.

He loves Christmas carols. He does not like performing on command. So last year at the school Christmas concert, he happily sat there on the stage, among the other kids in his class, listening to their renditions of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Rudolph” with a big smile on his face – without uttering a sound. Then he regaled us all with his own concert in the car all the way home.

Another check in the Halloween column: Very few concerts. Kids just get to sing songs about ghosts and pumpkins at school or whenever they feel like it.

Billy loves decorations of all kinds. He doesn't not like staring at expensive Christmas ornaments on a tree for a month without being allowed to touch them. He much prefers Halloween decorations: I keep spooky window gels on the dining room windows at a low enough height that he and Willow can peel them off and re-stick them over and over. I find them on the toilet, TV, fridge, on my coffee cup – wherever they can get them to stick.

S_BillyAstro_Cry2

"Mom! You're ruining The Great Pumpkin!!!"

And we have pumpkins. Everywhere. Billy uses them as bowling balls in his bowling game. I know that eventually there's going to be some enormous mess to clean up, but in the meantime, he and his sister are having a whale of a time for weeks, and the total cost has been about 5 bucks.

If I focus on the activities he actually enjoys, I can create a positive experience on any day of the year. If I try to push him into situations that I know are difficult for him – well, then, everyone is just going to have to accept that he's not too happy.

We've never managed to make it trick-or-treating, but we're going to give it another shot this year. But if that doesn't work out, no worries. We'll get our groove on come November 12: We totally rock Domino Day.

Reader Comments

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Life With Our 9

Awesome post! I, too, have a wonderful son with Autism. He has crazy fascinations with things too, Our sons have a lot in common I htink. I have a page on my blog that describes how he affects us as a family. I also have a daughter with severe ADHD and possibly Aspergers. Come visit me at http://lifewithour9.blogspot.com

As usual, there are so many things that I recognize. The sticker decals all over the house, not wanting to do anything on cue (opening presents, posing for pics, singing a song). You're right that there's alot less pressure around the smaller holidays. Just enjoyed a kick-ass Columbus Day!

I Like Pumpkins, Too!

Hi Amanda:

I'm with Billy on this one...I'm not big on Halloween, but I do like pumpkins! I've got photos of my granddaughter with a giant pumpkin on my post today...

Wendy

Welcome Great Pumpkin!

@Wendy: Right on. By the way, everyone, I totally recommend Wendy's site, thelocalcook.com, if you want to be truly inspired about what you can do when you decide to eat locally.

@BigDaddy: Yes, we have a fantastic track record with Arbor Day as well. Ditto Administrative Professionals Day and Grandparents Day.

@Chris P-M: Last year, when the concept of Easter Egg hunting was explained and demonstrated to Billy, he went around dutifully picking them up and singing the "Clean up, Clean up" song. Not his favorite holiday experience :-)

@Melody: Yes, YouTube is a godsend in our house! Whenever we're trying to prepare for / introduce a new experience, we try to find videos on YouTube and inevitably there's something: haircuts, bike riding, gymnastics, playing piano. You name it, and you can find it on YouTube. Sometimes, that's not so good. There's also some Thomas the Train-related porno that we've accidentally stumbled upon. Be careful with those "related" videos!

@Cheryl: Ah, gotta love autumn. Billy's getting a fix for his acorn jones every day now :-)

@Jill: LOVE your pumpkin "dinner theater!" We haven't named our pumpkins yet, but I think that's a GREAT idea.

@Ginny: Bubble wrap is one of life's great joys, as far as Billy is concerned! And it's also a great way, our OT tells us, to build hand strength for handling snaps related to dressing oneself.

@Craig: Happy to help out with your great site. Expect an email from me privately within 24 hours.

@Rebecca: WHY didn't I think to dress Billy as Charlie Brown this Halloween??? I already have the astronaut/alien combo for him and his sister now, but he would have loved the CB idea. Plus, it's comfortable and cool. (It's still like 90 degrees around here.) Next year! Looking forward to hearing how your trick or treat goes ... and maybe seeing some pictures?

Charlie Brown obsession

This post really caught my attention because my 2 1/2 year old who has ASD is in love with the Charlie Brown Halloween special and has been watching it since last Halloween on and off. Anyway, when I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween, he quickly answered, "Charlie Brown!" His yellow shirt with zigzag design arrived a few days ago in the mail, he tried it on and couldn't stop checking himself out in the mirror. He has worn it for pajamas several times and is just thrilled being Charlie Brown. His nearly 4-year-old sister has decided to forego the fairy costume this year and be Lucy instead...not an easy costume to find...but we did. :) We'll probably make it to about four houses for trick-or-treating, but all the effort will be worth the cute photos. :)

Wow! I really enjoyed your blog and the content. I'm a new follower who just happened to come across your site while searching twitter for, #blogs and #specialneeds.

I wonder if you would consider being a guest blogger on our site from time-to-time? It would be a tremendous honor and really help us in providing top-notch content. Please let me know if that is something you might consider. If not, I thank you for you consideration and this wonderful post.

Many Blessings,

Craig

You had me laughing with

Bubblewrap day! It must be a fun day at the Broadfeet house! (I'm still giggling!)

I loved your little video, too. We haven't bought any pumpkins yet this year, so today's the day! Yay for Halloween!

Our kids should be friends... lol

Halloween is my fav fav fav! And Kekito LOVES the costumes- a little TOO much! =) I've never been a big christmas fan- I totally agree about the ornaments, expectations of people, etc... Glad to hear I'm not alone! kekito gets the "Woah, Woah, Woah's" when there's too much going on. Right now pumpkins are an obession at our house! We have decorational ones that WERE supposed to be all over. But now they live on our dining table arranged perfectly around his placemat as though the pumpkins are at dinner theater and K is the main event! lol He and my husband even named the ones with faces- Chewy, Dewey, Screwy, and ...Tony. lol

Total 13 comments

I'm a celebrator. While others scoff and roll their eyes at Valentine's Day, I get a secret thrill walking through a grocery store overstocked

celebrate

with candy hearts, teddy bear-shaped balloons and roses wrapped in plastic. I believe in true love and believe it is perfectly reasonable to celebrate it by wearing matching T-shirts, eating a heart-shaped steak and making one another mix tapes.

But the holiday doesn't have to be as well-established as V-day to get me interested. I'll break out the streamers and party hats at the slightest provocation. Flag Day, Earth Day, International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day (Feb. 23 - save the date!) -- if it were up to me, we would have a special song and an imaginary creature delivering gifts for each one of them.

I'm sure it was because of the way I was brought up. My parents were celebrators. Each of us received a card and a present for every holiday, birthday, special celebration. I have drawers full of cards from my 14th birthday, my high school graduation, the day I got my first apartment (I'm also a saver, the nice way to say "pack rat"), and of course, Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, you name it. We made a big deal out of any given opportunity. We decorated the yard and the house for Christmas. We packed our house full of children at every birthday -- when my mom wasn't ferrying a van-load of them to a water park, amusement park or special event.

One of the greatest things about having kids is rediscovering the simple joy of celebrating. Billy comes home from school with special crafts he's made, smeared with cupcake icing singing, "Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, Dr. King! We honor you today!" Awesome. A birthday party for Dr. King - why didn't I think of that? (Actually, as it turned out, he got a couple of things muddled up. The cupcakes were for his classmate Luca's birthday, but his heart was in the right place.)

What's the downside? If you don't like the ridiculous pink-and-red commercialism of Valentine's Day, you can always celebrate by writing a letter -- a real letter with a pen and paper -- to someone you love. Or dump Valentine's Day altogether and take a child (or adult) you love somewhere to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day, which also falls on February 14. Or National Organ Donor Day (also Feb. 14), a bit more of a celebratory challenge, I'll grant you, but I would LOVE to hear about your efforts.

February is chock-full of reasons to kick up your heels and bake cupcakes. We've got Tooth Fairy Day (Feb. 28), Pistol Patent Day (Feb. 25), Tell a Fairy Tale Day (Feb. 26) and Polar Bear Day (Feb. 27). How could the satisfaction of eye-rolling possibly compare with the joy of celebrating National Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17) or the simple pleasure of rewarding yourself on National Chocolate Mint Day (Feb. 19) and Cherry Pie Day (Feb. 20).

In fact, Feb. 20 could become the greatest holiday ever if you celebrated cherry pies, loving your pet and National Hoodie Hoo Day. This last holiday is apparently celebrated by walking outside at noon, raising your hands over your head and shouting "Hoodie Hoo!" at the top of your lungs, in the hopes of chasing away winter. I guess this is in case the whole groundhog thing didn't work out.

Just be aware, if you keep rolling your eyes, expect a visit from me on February 16: "National Do A Grouch a Favor Day." We can join hands and sing a song I made up for "Public Sleeping Day" (Feb. 28) before writing our letters to the Tooth Fairy.

Reader Comments

Celebrating

I am a celebrator too. Especially birthdays, When Wayne & I got married he couldn't understand why I went to all the expense, time & work to pull it all together. I always made a big party every year for Jennifer & Keith and tried to think of everything I could to make it special for them. I told him It brought me such joy to see them happy. I appreciate my mom for making my birthday, Christmas, and holidays special, because that me feel special. It's just apart of loving I think.

Celebrating

I agree! No matter how you do it, taking time out to make a big deal over a special day for the people you love is a way to show them how special they are. I know that Jennifer and Keith appreciated that too and will pass that love on to their kids :-)

Total 2 comments

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