Communication: Making Christmas Easier for the Guest with Special Needs
Welcome to Day 1 of the 5-day series “Making Christmas Easier for the Guest with Special Needs”! If you missed the introduction/landing page, you can find it here.
To make Christmas easier for guests with special needs (and their families), a good place to start is with communication. Many times families think they’re communicating, but they’re not.
While we may hear what the other person is saying, we’re not really listening. Or we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to say next instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying. Or we can’t really understand what the other person is saying because preconceived notions get in the way.
In talking with one another about family holiday plans, we’ve got to take the time to really listen to one another and to look at the whole situation with love, with the other person’s best interests in mind. These conversations may be difficult, and they will require understanding, patience, and give-and-take on both sides, but I believe true communication will help families come up with ideas that will make the holidays special for everyone involved.
To get these discussions started:
Schedule a time to sit down together. Because of the sensitive nature of these discussions, they’re probably not going to happen unless you make time for them.
Listen to both sides. It’s important that both sides have the chance to speak, to make their concerns known, and to hear what the other side has to say.
Remember you’re all on the same team. This isn’t about who wins. It’s about making Christmas a pleasant experience for everyone in the family, and some family members are going to need accommodations, through no fault of their own. No one is trying to ruin anyone else’s Christmas by asking for help or a modification to a long-held family tradition.
Let love win. Even if it’s hard to change dearly held traditions (like favorite holiday dishes that always appear on the menu), let’s remember that the most important thing about holidays are the people. It’s always about relationship over stuff, even if that “stuff” has been part of our families for as long as we can remember. We can always start new traditions that make Christmas fun for everyone. We have done this with some of our extended family members, and the more flexible we are, the more everyone enjoys the event. Starting new traditions makes memories that we all take into the future to share with others, both in our family and without. Who doesn’t want a legacy of love that shows up in flexibility and concern and respect for all members of the family?
Here’s what some other family members had to say about holiday planning:
“Understand our logistics aren’t ‘just throw clothes in a bag and go.’ We have to plan out where is there a good hospital, can we get supplies from our DME at our destination if something happens (like a stolen bag with kiddo’s feeding pump in it), how much food do we have to bring/can we restock on safe foods? Do we have enough medication for the time we are traveling, can we get refills (some cannot be refilled out-of-state)?” – Meg Falciani, Adventures with Jude
“Ask what would make things easier for us!” – Anonymous mom, Facebook
Come back tomorrow, and we’ll discuss food!
Want to read more Christmas series about a variety of topics? Check out the iHomeschool Network Christmas Hopscotch!