Monday, December 25, 2006

christmas past and present


Christmas 2000: Jacob was 2 months old. I have a photo of him in his bouncy seat surrounded by presents. Pretty funny, actually, but hey, we were new parents and pretty excited about the holiday! We didn't bother with a Christmas tree, but my mother had made him a stocking.

Christmas 2001: Jacob was mesmerized by the Christmas lights, so despite the fact that we weren't going to get a tree, we did, and decorated it just with lights. He spent hours staring at them. He was new to toddling, so we kept the tree out on our deck.

Christmas 2002: I was pregnant with Zoo Boy, Jacob was walking, we had a gate around the tree to protect it, and Jacob spent 2 hours on Christmas morning opening and closing the door of the Blues Clues refrigerator that came with the playset we gave him. At my family celebration, The Map Man and I alternated spending time out of the room with an overwhelmed Jacob (who missed the first hour or so of the festivities because he'd fallen asleep in his carseat and we were afraid to wake him). This was before we realized anything was "wrong". He enjoyed the "christmas concert" put on by his cousins (mostly small kids playing toy instruments very badly), sitting in my lap, clapping his hands, and saying "that was good!" (a scripted sequence he'd memorized from a video) after every "song".

Christmas 2003: Just a few weeks prior to Jacob's diagnosis. I really don't remember anything from that Christmas, I had other things on my mind. I do know that at his 3rd birthday party two months prior to that, he spent over an hour putting a card in and out of an envelope. I suspect Christmas was much the same.

Christmas 2004: This was a couple months after starting RDI. As in the prior several years, it took us hours to get through opening just a few packages. Once opened, he'd focus on that one toy for over an hour, before finally being convinced to open another present. This was the year that he had an ugly burn below his lower lip in every holiday photo, from biting into a hamburger that was too hot (and which he was oblivious to). At The Map Man's parent's house, he jumped up and down flapping his hands while watching his cousins playing.

Christmas 2005: This was the first year that Jacob seemed to "get" Christmas. He fell in love with the idea of Santa Clause, and actually got close enough to Santa on an impromtu visit at a local light display for me to get a picture of him. He wouldn't sit on his lap, mind you, but he stood next to him and actually spoke a few words to him in response to my prompts. We wrote a letter to Santa, and he was thrilled to wake up Christmas morning to discover that he'd come and brought him what he asked for. He sat at the kid's table at Christmas dinner with his cousins, eating his cheese and crackers in lieu of what was being served -- but he SAT there, instead of with us at the "big table" or with him at the kid's table. It was a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas 2006: All I can say is WHOA. Jacob 100% "gets" the whole Christmas thing and is a full participating part of it, no scaffolding or assistance needed. He wrote his own letter to Santa, and sat on Santa's lap (during a planned visit) chatting to him (and left with a wave and a "thanks Santa!"), chatted with Mrs. Clause and some of the elves, making real, albeit simple, conversation with them. At Christmas dinner he participated in excited, reciprocal conversation with his cousins at the kids' table (still eating Cheese and Crackers instead of the meal, but actually offering to share them with his cousins). During our "concert" he sang and participated as enthusiastically (maybe more so) as anyone there. Upon opening his first present this morning, he asked what it was (a block and marble run), and when I explained it, he exclaimed "Oh! I LOVE that kind of toy!" When I asked him if he wanted to get it out to play with it, or open another gift, he chose picking another gift to give someone else: "I'll pick a present to give -- here, Mommy, here's one for you!" He helped Zoo Boy set up his new farm play set and the two of them spent a good part of the morning engrossed in pretend play. I heard no scripting. I saw no stimming. There was only a little boy engrossed in the spirit and fun of the season. I guess I can check off the first item on my Christmas wish list!

Here's wishing you all the very merriest of holidays!

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