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A Routine Struggle: Special Needs Family Seeks Balance During the Holidays

The lives of families dealing with special needs is never the same from one day to the next. And that's WITH strict routines.

The lives of families dealing with special needs is NEVER the same from one day to the next. What works one day may or may not work the next. And, on the flip-side, doing something once makes it “routine.” This is another problem we run into in this house during the holidays.

I've posted in the past that we live in an interfaith household. We, therefore, celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. Hanukkah began last night. Big Brother looked forward to it with such anticipation you would think he would burst any moment. Ballerina and Music Man seemed to be indifferent. However, when they were presented with presents (book for Music Man and Wiggles DVD for Ballerina), all of a sudden we saw their excitement, as well.

Now it's the second day and this morning, Ballerina asked about presents and candles. I am so happy that she realizes that we are in the midst of a holiday and these kids will be getting presents and lighting candles for seven more nights. In addition, on Dec. 25, we'll go downstairs to the Christmas tree and there will be a pile of presents for everyone. On the evening on Dec. 28, we are going to be in for a significant meltdown. Hanukkah will be over. No more candles. No more presents (at least not every day – they will be celebrating Christmas with extended family close to New Years and presents will be a part of that celebration as well and there are birthdays in mid-January).

But we are already starting to think about how to prepare them for this abrupt and rather unpleasant change in “routine.” In some respects, this will be easy – we will be with extended family which means our “routine” is already out the window. But we are already taking steps to prepare them. Tonight we will tell them, “Tonight is the 2nd night of Hanukkah. That means that there are 6 days left.” And this countdown will continue throughout the holiday. Then, when the last night arrives, we will be able to say “GOODBYE” to Hanukkah. And we can remind them of that farewell that next day when they are anticipating another present day.

Will it work? Ask me on Dec. 28 around 7 p.m.

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