Does it feel like Christmas?

A wonderful christmas card we received. Certai...

Don’t say the C-word to me, please. I am not prepared. Work, the hospital, and Lil Z’s therapy services are all singing the same refrain: let’s just try to fit this in before the holidays. Add to that a million Christmas parties, performances, a stack of medical expense claims that need to be submitted before I go bankrupt and Vegemite’s last day of Kindy, and I don’t know which way to turn.

Already I’ve had to scrap a few things that I usual enjoy doing – Christmas baking and sending Christmas cards top that list. Christmas baking this year consisted of two batches of gingerbread cookies – one for the school Christmas party bake sale and the other for Vegemite’s class. Vegemite was allowed to decorate them and I apologise to the parents of her classmates who are only now coming down from their sugar high after consuming several inches of icing topped with several more inches of sprinkles, with a thin sliver of gingerbread at the bottom.

Christmas cards were tricky as well, since I like to send photo cards. QB says they are cheesy, but as we don’t leave near so many of our friends and family, I think its nice to show them how the girls have grown. Regardless of taste, I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the girls (Lil Z doesn’t like to look up, let alone smile, for the camera). And then Lil Z got her tube, and the thought of sending out Christmas photos of her with an NG tube was just depressing. Not for me so much – I’ve made my peace with tube feeding – but for the recipients.

Despite the chaos, Vegemite is very excited about Christmas and has compiled a long list of toys that Santa “will” bring her. She’s taken great joy in decorating the tree and the house and even sat down (completely unprompted) and laboriously wrote Christmas cards to all her school friends – a very impressive feat.

Lil Z, however, isn’t excited by Christmas at all. She solemnly watched us decorate the tree, but hasn’t really paid attention to it, or any of the other decorations, since. Not even her hanging rail, which Vegemite adorned with tinsel and Christmas stockings. (the stockings were later removed from the rail out of concern that Santa might not be able to find them if they were in Lil Z’s room). This is partly the result of her age (Vegemite wasn’t excited by Christmas at 21 months either) but also because of her limited engagement with things going on around her.

So, Vegemite and I have tried to bring a bit of a feeling of Christmas to her. Stealing an idea from the SWAN UK blog, we designed Lil Z a “sensory” advent calendar. This involves a new surprise for Lil Z each day with a new texture, sound or smell. Vegemite chose a lot of different ribbons (dangly, curly ones, neat ones in bows, soft fabric ones and stiff ones with wires in them). We’ve also had a string of battery operated Christmas lights, cinnamon sticks, a Santa decoration with a big, soft beard, a snow globe, and a string of silver beads – as well as a lot of other things we managed to pick up during a dash through the local dollar store. Vegemite loves presenting Lil Z with a new surprise every day. And Lil Z gets to explore a new feeling – which will hopefully encourage her to engage more with the world around her.

Her gifts this year are very sensory too. Spikey balls, light up toys, wind up toys – all with a different feel or something to expand her sensory repertoire. That, coupled with some new seating I am going to get for her while in the US (special needs equipment in Australia being ridiculously expensive, not to mention nearly impossible to source) will tie in nicely to my goal for 2013 – to get Lil Z more engaged with what is going on around her.

So, for Lil Z at least, I hope it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.


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