Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Birthday/Holiday Gifts

   By the time December rolled around that year, we were in a pretty good place. All of the boys were excited for the holidays, and we also had Mikey's birthday to celebrate. He was my December baby, and the best Christmas gift I ever received.
   We always made a point of getting a special birthday cake for all of our children. Fortunately, we had a wonderful bakery close by that would draw favorite characters on each of their cakes. This was the easy part of the birthday. Mikey always had certain characters he loved, so whether it be Snoopy,Scooby-Doo, or a Disney character, we never had difficulty getting him a great cake.
   The hard part of the birthdays and the holidays was the gifts. Mikey loved certain characters,and enjoyed watching movies and t.v., but he wasn't big on playing with toys. This is not uncommon for children with autism. Many show very little interest in toys, while others may obsess over certain toys, line them up perfectly, and play with specific toys constantly. Mikey loved to play catch,so we always bought balls for him. He also loved to bounce, so we had purchased a small trampoline. This year, we were at a loss. DVDs were always an option, because he loved to watch them, but that didn't seem very exciting to us. It bothered me greatly because if I wanted to, I could fill up carts with toys and games for my other three children, but when it came time to purchase gifts for Mikey, it was just not as easy.
    For his birthday that year, I was lucky enough to come across a Thomas the Tank Train that he could ride on around the house. It would require moving some furniture, but, it would be worth it. While he was not particularly interested in playing with trains, he loved movement. This birthday gift was a huge hit, but now I had to find something just as stimulating for Christmas.
   I tried to be creative. Puzzles, balls and DVDs would of course make the list, but I wanted something special, something he would love. He never really enjoyed arts and crafts, so that was out.He already had a bicycle,scooter and skateboard. Then, one day while watching QVC, I found the perfect gift...a bounce house that came with inflatable balls, a volleyball net ,and soccer goals. It was a bit pricey, but I wanted so badly to see him happy! I bought it , and hoped that he would love it.
   Mikey loved Christmas...the trees, the lights, and especially the music.Throughout December, he would sit near our tree, and watch holiday specials with his brothers. He loved to eat Christmas cookies,and absolutely loved candy canes. His brothers used to tease him about stealing all of the candy canes off of the tree.It was definitely a very stimulating time of year for him. His eyes would sparkle as he came down our stairs on Christmas morning,and he always had a smile a mile wide. Yet, he would never run straight to the tree for gifts. Instead ,he would sit on the couch ,with a blanket and Mike, and watch his brothers have at it. It truly seemed to delight him . He loved to see the boys pick out their gifts and rip them open. As the boys indulged themselves, they would always run over and give Mikey some of his gifts,and usually help him open them. While Mikey loved to see some new goodies in his lap, I think he enjoyed observing it all more.
    When the gifts had all been opened, he was thrilled with his bounce house,as were his brothers. We enjoyed many years of fun ,bouncing for hours outside on beautiful days. I ,of course, was pleased to have found the perfect gift. Yet, as each birthday/holiday arrives, we still find it difficult to come up with great gift ideas. We do however, try our best to find things that will interest him and engage him. Things to keep him active and busy. I'd like to think though, that perhaps Mikey understands the spirit of the season better than the rest of his joy seems to come from watching the joy of others,rather than indulging himself. A great lesson for all of us indeed.

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