Well, it's December, and that means the holidays have started. We're an interfaith family, so we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Translation, on a year where Hanukkah starts early (like this year), it's a scramble of presents, traditions and insanity.
Yes, 4 days after spending time with extended family, the holiday began. Wednesday night was the first night of Hanukkah. Our Hanukkah traditions are still a work in progress. Daniel says the prayers with me, repeating each word after me in hebrew and me giving a very basic translation of each prayer. In the past, he's also lit all the candles (except the Shamash [the candle usually in the middle slightly raised in comparison to the others that is lit prior to the other candles and before the prayers are recited] since that requires striking a match or similar). But this year, we started making a change. On the 4th night (yesterday), Rachel lit the first of the daily candles and then handed the Shamash over to Daniel. Tonight (the 5th night), Simon did the same thing. Hopefully, in years to come, we can simply have them take turns lighting the candles -- Daniel will do it one night, Rachel the next, Simon the next, etc.
Yes, Rachel and Simon are starting to get more involved in the holiday festivities. For the first time, we are watching them thoroughly enjoy opening their gifts. In the past, every time they were presented with a gift, they needed significant help in opening the gifts and then they didn't seem to know what to do with the gift once they were opened. This year, they may ask for a little help to get things started, but they are looking like kids -- they are excited to tear off the paper and see what's inside. And, in general, their faces have been lighting up when they see the "surprise" waiting in the package. So far, we've seen this with gifts including Barbie dolls, DVD, hats/gloves, even chocolate money (which I consider a "dud" gift).
Hopefully, for future years I can be a bit more organized and we can have a "grab bag" of gifts for each kid and they will select one every night. Unfortunately, I'm NOT that organized right now and I'm scrambling to get 3 gifts ready every night (one per child). This way I can make sure that they are getting "similar" gifts and one of them isn't getting a lackluster present while another is hitting a "gold mine" (this will likely eventually happen with the grab bag model).
So, more than halfway through Hanukkah, we see a successful holiday. Christmas is coming soon and there will be some new things there as well, and the twins' birthday isn't much later. But their love of receiving and opening presents helps them enjoy what's to come. It's so nice that they are enjoying this time of year, just like so many of the neurotypical peers. "Normal" is such a novel concept to us when it comes to Rachel and Simon. We have to grasp each thing that appears that way because we never know how long we may have to wait until the next one.
For my full blog, please see http://myfamilysexperiencewithautism.blogspot.com/
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