The Xmas Grinch… Asperger’s at Christmas

My partner lovingly calls me the Xmas Grinch, because each year I am seemingly reluctant to get in the spirit of things.  It got worse the Xmas I was writing up my PhD, when I had a deadline of 22 December, and I completely banned Xmas altogether until I had handed in.  That year made for some frantic shopping!  I have step-children who are all old enough to appreciate Xmas now, and they have also noted my lack of festive cheer.

It’s not because I don’t like Xmas, I really do.  I have very fond memories of Xmas growing up.  My parents made a lot of effort to make it special and I can remember putting out carrots for the reindeer, and making a Santa Trap (a string with bells on to wake me up when he came into my room – unfortunately I shared my plan with my parents and it didn’t go off for some reason…).

I think the problem is that once you get to be an adult, and Xmas is then your responsibility, it stops being so much fun.  If you think that Xmas is supposed to be all about spending time with family and friends, but you’re not the sort of person who (for whatever reason) enjoys spending lots of time in social settings, and you throw in some sensory issues, it can be challenging.  And not in a way that is easy to explain to people who really enjoy it!

Some reasons why I find Xmas difficult:

  • Flashing lights everywhere
  • Obligatory office Xmas parties (attending or declining can be equally difficult)
  • Overcrowded shopping centres months before Xmas
  • Having to pack a lot of friends and relatives into a short holiday
  • Not knowing how to choose a good present for someone
  • ‘Scratchy’ Xmas decorations
  • Sending lots of cards but not getting many back
  • Extra chores and responsibilities with no reduction in regular commitments
  • Having time off work, but not really getting to do anything relaxing
  • Music with jangly instruments in public spaces
  • Overcrowded restaurants that require a booking and have a restricted menu
  • Changes in daily and weekly routines
  • Having to fake enthusiasm for my Xmas plans

To my credit, I have put up a tree this year, and a bit of tinsel, but I haven’t written any cards yet.  Luckily, I do look pretty cute in a Santa hat, so I may get away with it for another year.

© Catastraspie, 2013 (aka the Xmas Grinch)

Upside Down Xmas Tree

Upside Down Xmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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14 Responses to The Xmas Grinch… Asperger’s at Christmas

  1. Oh, boy does this all sound familiar – I am not the only one! 🙂 My husband calls me the Grinch too, this year I have a little bit more cheer … but for many of the reasons you list above I find this time of year difficult. I find a jolly spirit with my kids though, they make it full of jollity.

  2. Deb Johnson says:

    Oh how I understand all of the above Catastraspie. Dear younger friends are so full of ‘Christmas Cheer’ – with nearly 3 weeks left to go! I can claim a certain age-and-experience thang, to forgive my own grinchiness. When I was young, Christmas was definitely quieter, with far less blinking, tinkling, ringing and general sprinkling of fake cheer. Now, I am older, the world is noisier and what joy there may have been in X’ing bleddy Xmas seems to have gone the way of my boobs… Downwards! I wish you as much peace, joy and soft lighting as you can find for Christmas dear thing, and a slightly calmer New Year 🙂

  3. Pingback: La La’s Things you should have in your tree or just around the house this Xmas | La La Rapariga

  4. nouske1971 says:

    Posted it on my facebook! Thanks for writing it. I am not even putting up a tree or writing cards anymore, I’m done with all that. I am also exempt from all family things during the holidays, because they finally get it, that it makes me unmerry at Christmas to have to do all these things. So it’s just me and my dogs from Christmas. And my own food!

  5. I’ve seen my mom get snappy under the load of preparing for Eid, on the other hand for us(teenage children) its quite fun….even when we try our level best to help her out. She just wants each inch of the detail perfect. And then there’s the noise. I always tell her to take things easy!

  6. booksonaspergersyndrome says:

    we dont celebrate christmas here in Israel, but i lived in the usa for nine years, and i loved the blinking lights in the shopping centers and in the street, loved the music too, long as it wasnt too loud, and it was at times.
    i cant stand crowds, they drive me crazy. i like it when the shopping center is mostly empty. i love going for a while without running into anyone. i wish i was the only shopper.
    office parties? i will decline, and i dont care whose feelings i’m hurting. people should be more understanding and tolerant. if they dont understand, that’s their problem and not mine. i dont go to office party. over my dead body. my ex boss put pressure on me, and i stood my ground. you’re gonna have to kill me first.

    • catastraspie says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment 🙂 Well done for sticking your ground over the office parties! I agree that people should understand that they aren’t for everybody. One strategy I have used is to say I’m going and then just not go at the last minute :-/

  7. voicewilderness1 says:

    I totally relate to this post as a middle aged AS female. I would add, having to spend time with a highly dysfunctional family who scapegoated me all my life, and being forced into celebrating something which very much goes against my values – excessive consumerism, excessive food and drink, and phoniness. Relatives who treat me as if I don’t exist all year suddenly expect me to make an appearance and pretend we love each other. It’s a big charade. If it weren’t for my kids, I would forgo all of this hullabaloo and hype.

  8. voicewilderness1 says:

    My ideal Christmas would be to go for a hike in the woods, and forget all the rest. I would love to spend it in a cabin in the woods with just my husband and boys.

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