Replacing the family artificial christmas tree seems like it’d be a tiny blip on the radar in the whole scheme of things. Right?!
Or so we thought. We, the parents.
We quickly found out that no, NO it was most certainly not a small matter. As the Work Around unfolded before my eyes, I sat dumbfounded, not wanting to believe that this was so important. But, as I sat and listened to Ivan and his expressions sank in, it slowly dawned on me that we should have anticipated this particular Work Around.
I mean, how could we NOT have seen this one coming?
Ivan lives for the magic of Christmas all year long. He listens to Christmas music year-round because he loves it so much. Christmas music helps him find his calm better than most of the other things he has in his well-stocked arsenal.
So we should have anticipated this. We had months to assist in easing the change that would be coming, but we totally missed it.
The ball started rolling over the summer when we bought new furniture. We got a love-seat & couch to replace our very well-loved couch & recliner. The layout of our room changed dramatically. With the new furniture we had to rearrange the entire room, including where the TV was situated. And with time, the changes were absorbed and a new groove has been established. Anyway, having the new furniture and layout affected having a space for our tree. This is the detail we missed. Who’s thinking of tree placement in July? Obviously, we weren’t.
As the holidays approached, we started talking about when we’d pull the tree out & decorate. One night after the kids were tucked in, it hit us that the tree wouldn’t fit anywhere in the house regardless of any level of finagling. I shared the news with Ivan the next morning with a solution in hand (to buy a new one that would fit), hoping to mitigate the impact. No such luck. The hit wasn’t the one we thought it would be.
At this point, I had to keep reminding myself we are human and as such, not perfect. We simply can not anticipate everything. But, as the news to Ivan unfolded, I felt like the biggest pile of poo. And the solution that we thought we had just wasn’t the right one.
Putting on our collective thinking caps, we figured it out. We’d put our tree on the front porch with weather-friendly ornaments and buy a new tree for inside. Win-win.
End of story….
Ah, but no. It’s just the beginning.
As we spent time shopping around for the right new tree, we struggled with spending the money on the ones we preferred. Those suckers are pricey!
What happens next is the BOMB! I promise. And I swear I’m not sharing this for any accolades. I’m sharing to yet again dispel the misconception that autistics lack empathy. I’ve said it before & will again in case you’ve not seen it. Ivan is the most empathetic soul I have ever met. He absolutely blows me away and continues to inspire me to do & be better.
Okay, so I was scanning through my Facebook feed & this video came up. You seriously have to click & watch it for the full impact. Please! So, Ivan saw me crying as I watched the video, came over to give me a hug & asked why I was being so “emotional”. I restarted the video & had him watch.
When it was over, he leaned into me for an armless hug, turned to me and said, “Mom, we don’t need 2 trees. Let’s help some other people.” Through a new wave of tears, I asked him what he thought that should look like. We had the most phenomenal conversation that I don’t remember verbatim now, but… you guys, how awesome is he!
Since we’ve gotten so attached to our community with Ivan working at the local farmer’s market, we wanted whatever we decided on to be here, in our community. As he scooted off to bed, I promised to do some research on the options where we are.
The next morning at breakfast, I shared with Ivan some disheartening news. Our small community has no food bank or shelter. You can imagine how horrified he was that people would need to go so much further away for assistance. And so trying to stay local, we thought we were back to square one. We then discussed doing something for a shelter in a neighboring community. With our breakfast brainstorming, we remembered that there is a shelter for abused women & children. Next was figuring out what to do.
Ivan decided that he wanted to donate tote bags filled with comfort items for the children and moms. I called the organization to see if that type of donation would be helpful and they assured us that it would be. So many details were put into it from planning what could go into the totes for ages ranging from 2-13; price comparing items at a couple stores to stay within our budget; purchasing items with others potential interests in mind; painting the totes to personalize, filling and delivering.
This all initiated by a 7 year old! The planning, details, consideration of others & things that may bring some joy to them during a very difficult time in their life. And, he chose for us to do this instead of buying a second tree, which is a huge sacrifice for him to not have a tree inside our home. This is what the season is about. Heck, this is what LIFE is about.