I was flicking through one of my social media sites today and was looking at all the posts on my feed. Many of them are posts from people as they share their holiday preparations, get togethers, traditions and random pictures of other holiday events, like school concerts.

As I looked at the posts, scrolling past my eyes, it made me start to think about our past Christmas times especially when Elizabeth was young and pretty deep in the throes of her sensory processing disorder ( SPD).

As I see a post about a holiday concert, I think about the time Elizabeth was able to go on stage and be part of her school’s holiday presentation. Then, I think about the time we tried to take her to Emily’s, and she had terrible anxiety which resulting in a tough night.

As I see a post about a family smiling as they all head out for a movie night, I am drawn to a memory of Elizabeth loving a movie with us, but then I am taken to current times. She WILL ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO STEP A TOE INTO A THEATER, so we, as a family, will not be seeing a show together.

I see posts about baking together and I have another round of memories. The same goes for pictures of times shopping or with family during visits…

The memories continue….

Are they all bad ones?  No, absolutely not.

Are they all good ones?  No, on that one too!

They are simply all ours.

The thing is, when you have a child with special needs, no one  really knows what is going on in your world, how hard it was to get her on that stage, preparing her for the movie she ended up loving, or even getting her to touch the cookie dough to bake.

No one really knows the work that goes into making the holidays work for your special child, your other children and your family. Even if Elizabeth gets up on stage for 5 minutes, we celebrate it

If she watched half a movie, we are happy!

If she cuts only a few cookies, we chalk it up to a success.

So while we may see others posting big smiles and obvious successful, fun posts, I have learned in these 22 years with our beautiful Elizabeth that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect.

And while Hallmark and Lifetime may show those perfectly decorated houses, brimming with smiling, happy guests (who, by the way, are always dressed in amazing holiday wear) the reality is that, we have learned to set aside expectations that the world may think of as “The perfect holiday” and simply enjoy any and all time together and any and all good things the holiday time may bring.

I hope everyone gets the chance to make their own “perfect” memories this year.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of:

I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’ Special Journey

Emily’s Sister

Elizabeth Believes In Herself: The Special Journey Continues