I really meant to write this like the day after my last Santa inspired post, but life has been oddly busy. I say odd, because I actually have barely left the house. We've all been sick. This weird cold that seems to get better one day only to feel worse than before the next. Abby has surprisingly been surrounded by sick people, but has only sniffled twice. I'm very thankful. Apparently those gummy vitamins really work.
This Christmas was a lot fun. This year, Abby REALLY got it. She has been in love with the movie The Polar Express since last year. I can't even begin to tell you how many times we've seen it over the past year. Since I never believed in Santa as a kid, it's been a challenge for me to play the Santa game, but as soon as I caught on to the "Naughty vs. Nice" brilliance, it's all starting to come together for me. In the days leading up to Christmas, I was able to bring to mind for Abby the scene in The Polar Express where the alarm goes off signaling to the elves that a boy in New Jersey was in danger of getting on the naughty list at the last minute for putting gum in his sister's hair and then... lying about it! *gasp* It's a very serious matter.
(Abby & Bean listening to their Dad read Olivia Helps with Christmas... they make him read this book over and over all year long)
And apparently Abby does not take "Naughty vs. Nice" lightly when it comes to Santa Clause. She was being particularly whiney just before the holiday. I'm guessing it was partially missing school, partially that she is four years old and partially because there were new family members around who weren't privy to her game.
So I said to her,
"Do you know what is happening in the North Pole right NOW?!"
She shook her head, "No."
"An alarm is going off and the elves are saying, "Abby in Michigan is not speaking very nicely to her family. Should we put her on the naughty list?"
Her eyes got big and I asked her, "Do you want to be on the Naughty List or the Nice List?"
She answered, "I want to be a nice girl."
"Ok, then. Please stop whining and use your nice words."
And it worked. It's genius! (Mom, you really should have considered Santa if only for that reason. Though I do seem to have a faint memory of you trying to use it a couple of times. Nice try, Mom. Nice try.)
("Daddy! Do you want to cook Santa?!!!")
Abby attended a breakfast hosted at the Muskegon Art Museum the weekend after Thanksgiving where she got to meet Santa. She sat on his lap, which is a miracle. Up until this year she regarded Santa with the same affection as one would reserve for the clown from Stephen Kings 'It'. (He's just a clown, I shouldn't be afraid... but he's so terrifying.) She'd watch from a distance, but when asked if she wanted to sit on his lap, she'd scream with the same intensity that she used, well, for everything else really. But this year, at that breakfast, she sat on Santa's lap and when he asked what she wanted for Christmas, she whispered,
Of course, Santa didn't hear her, because not only did she whisper it in her patented barely audible whisper, but she also said it about 10 seconds after Santa asked the question. By then he'd moved on to saying something else. But Abby's Dad was there and he was paying attention. He saw her whisper "Super Why." I imagine she must have been discouraged that Santa didn't hear her.
That's the way it is with kids with Autism. For the ones who do talk, they need a bit more time. I usually tell people to wait longer than they think they need to and then wait a few more seconds. Abby usually answers all questions posed to her, she just needs more time to process the question. Sadly, many people miss her answers.
We waited to put any gifts under the tree until the kids were in bed, telling them that Santa doesn't come until they are asleep. Abby took this very seriously and was asleep within minutes of going to bed. She apparently wasn't taking any chances, what with how close she'd come to the naughty list and all. My brother joked that she'd probably lectured her little brother on not "screwing this up!"
(After Santa had visited)
They were thrilled when they woke up on Christmas morning to find the tree surrounded by gifts. And one in particular said on the tag, "I heard you tell me what you wanted. To: Abby J, From: Santa" She started to open the package with little regard for who it was from, but then when she saw the familiar eyes of Whyatt from Super Why, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her face went white. Her eyes were huge! She dropped the gift and ran out of the living room into the dining room and looked from afar. Trying to process what she'd just experienced.
Santa was real!
He had to be! I could see the wheels turning in her head.
There was Super Why.
He said he had heard her!
We finally coaxed her back in to finish opening the gift. She finished opening it only to drop it again. She was shocked!
It took her quite a while to wrap her mind around the fact that Santa had heard her request and brought her Super Why. She was so excited! For the first hour that Whyatt was out of his package, Abby had to cover his eyes. She needed more time to process the miracle of actually receiving what she'd asked for.
(holding her brother's Alpha Pig and her Super Why)
The note that Santa left for her and Bean said,
"Dear Abby & Bean,
Thank you for the milk & cookies.
I was so hungry after flying all around the world.
I saw the Great Wall of China and the pyramids in Egypt.
You have both been very good kids this year.
Abby, I enjoyed meeting you at the breakfast with your cousin, ______.
I hope you enjoy your gifts.
Be good listeners and try your best to be big helpers.
She was once again amazed and for me, it brought back all the magic of Christmas.
It was truly a morning to remember.
A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!!!
(Our first Christmas in our new home)