by E.A. West
The Christmas season is something everyone looks forward to for months. The decorations, the parties, the shopping… these are things people love and find energizing. Everyone loves Christmas, right?
If you have special needs, holidays can be a nightmare. Those big family meals can present huge challenges for anyone with dietary restrictions. The parties can be overwhelming for anyone who experiences the world differently. Even holiday decorations can cause negative feelings to arise for anyone who struggles with change. As for shopping, well, if you have problems with it on an average day, the added crowds and overboard displays can make you want to curl up in the corner and cry.
Does any of this make a person with special needs into a Scrooge who wants everyone to be miserable? Absolutely not. Most likely, the person wants to enjoy the holiday season as much as everyone around them. Unfortunately, due to the challenges and limitations they live with, enjoying the over-the-top holiday traditions that are so prevalent these days may be impossible.
While this post may paint a bleak picture, reality doesn’t have to be so dismal. People with special needs can enjoy holidays, parties, and the big family get-together. They just need a little help and some small adjustments everyone can benefit from. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How can I help you enjoy this gathering more?” Even though each person’s needs will vary, here are a few general suggestions to help the special person in your life feel included without feeling overwhelmed.
Keep decorations low-key. There are thousands of ways to decorate for Christmas, and it’s easy to get swept up in the spirit of the season and make you entire house scream holiday. Instead of using every decoration that catches your eye, select a few favorites that compliment your home’s décor rather than completely replacing it.
Have a quiet space available. When most people plan holiday parties, they look for ways to keep everyone together and interacting. If you have a special person coming to your party, help them enjoy the gathering more by offering a quiet space where they can escape and regroup when the festivities start to overwhelm them. Don’t worry about making the space festive with decorations; a small room with no decorations and a comfortable place to sit is a much better option for someone who needs a break.
Discuss dietary restrictions. If you’re hosting a meal and invite someone with dietary restrictions, it’s always best to discuss what dishes they can eat beforehand. It may only take minor adjustments to your favorite recipe, or the special person may offer to bring a dish or two that’s safe for them and can be shared with everyone.
Be accepting. While this one may seem obvious, it’s not always as common as you might think. Simply allowing the special person to be different, hang out by the wall instead of being actively involved, etc. removes a lot of pressure that can bring stress to everyone.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, who met everyone where they were and walked with them on the path to a better life. You can do the same for a person with special needs by resisting the temptation to try to force them to be like everyone around them. The small effort of meeting them where they are and loving them anyway will increase their enjoyment of any holiday festivities.
by E.A. West
Josh Teague has dark memories from his time in Iraq. While he longs to share the burden of those memories with someone, he is afraid they will scare his girlfriend. Unwilling to risk losing her, he keeps the memories to himself and tries to keep a cheerful attitude despite the holiday season threatening to bring his mood down.
Leann Robak has her own set of memories causing trouble. Abandoned by her father when she was ten, she is devastated when her mother announces she’s taking a month-long trip to Europe over Christmas. Although Josh’s invitation to spend Christmas with him at his parents’ house holds exciting prospects, Leann can tell he’s hiding something from her. That knowledge leaves her wondering how well she truly knows him and whether he even wants to be in a relationship with her.
Can Josh and Leann learn to trust each other fully, or will their insecurities drive them apart?
E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.
Connect with E.A. West and learn more about her books in the following places:
Tamera Lynn Kraft is on E.A. West’s blog today at this link talking about how to make a Scripture Chain.