Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving, 2011

Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful to work in a school district that gives us the entire week off. It always falls just at the point when we teachers and students really need it. We had a wonderful holiday this year, too!

On the "real" Thanksgiving, we headed over to my Aunt Sussie and Uncle Jimmy's, who bravely hosted those of the Calverts that were in town, which included four children under 7. True courage, I tell you...

To really tell the story of Thanksgiving, I have to tell how it started. We slept in, and Luke climbed in bed with us. He started singing "Where is Thumbkin"... and he was doing the motions with the fingers! This is one of those things that is not remotely a big deal for most children, but for one with autism, it was a huge development and very exciting. Our day began with big smiles, with feelings of overwhelming gratitude. Speech + fine motor dexterity = Happy Thanksgiving! (I realize how nerdy this sounds to most of you, but any of you reading who know or have a child with autism understand why Jeremy and I were misty-eyed as the day began.) We got ready to go to Jimmy and Sussie's, feeling like we were on top of the world...

...then, as often happens with autism, something happens that just levels you. Within days - heck, within HOURS - you go from feeling hopeful to despondent, from encouraged to defeated. Luke arrives, and his cousins start trying to play with him, and he, as usual, is just not there yet. Sweet William (age 6) was gently and kindly persistent. Wynn (age 3) didn't seem to understand why Luke (or "Wucas" as they called him =D) just wasn't that into him. I have to confess that there are moments like these that can just slay you as a parent. The ups and downs of autism are hard to describe.

But luckily - after we had an AMAZING dinner, there was an "up" awaiting us. My cousin Missi (Wynn and William's mom) got a Veggie Tales Christmas DVD for the boys to watch. I have to admit, I felt the prospects were dim - no way was Luke going to sit still with other kids and watch a video. Well - enter William, the miracle worker and budding ABA therapist. He noticed Luke was eating crackers. He seriously lured Luke into the room by offering him crackers. Once they got there, we nestled them together in a chair.

I know it doesn't seem like much. It seems totally normal, right? Well to us, it was a nice glimmer, a hopeful way to end the day that had a hopeful beginning.

Plus, it was precious.

William: "Wucas, if you want a cracker, say 'cracker, please.' Or just 'cracker.'"

Awesome. :D

The weekend closed with our hosting of Jeremy's family (his parents, sister, Michelle, Bobby, Lori, and Alyssa) for Thanksgiving dinner at our house. It's the second year in a row that we've done this, and though it produces some stress, it's gone off wonderfully each year, and dare I say it, a tradition may have been born. We had a great time... but you can't tell because, like a fool, I didn't take pictures of anyone. I did, however, take a picture of my centerpiece. I'm a nerd, I'm rarely domestic, but I'm proud of what I put together:

It's not much, but hey, it's something.

Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving holidays with your families! Though there's no question that our holiday had ups and downs, we are very richly blessed with a healthy boy and a loving, caring family!

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