Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“The Relatives are Coming! The Relatives are Coming!”

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
" ...but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'"
(Matthew 19:14, ESV)

I’ll never forget that look on his face. It was a look of shock and fear that I rarely see in his face, but when it comes you know he’s not feeling right about something. I saw the look my son gave the front door of our home, more specifically, the people coming through our door, some familiar, but some strangers, friends and relatives of friends that were coming over for Thanksgiving one year. It had become our custom to open out home to friends and neighbors for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, and this one was no exception, as our home quickly filled that late Fall evening with the bustle and noise of celebration, a joyful noise. Yet it was clear that my autistic son did not experience it the same way any of us were. No sooner did people come rumbling through the door than he hooted a disgruntled sound, turned around and quickly booked it through the house, into his room. 

I was a little surprised at his reaction quite honestly, as he is is usually a fairly social fellow. Even when we have parties at home, he generally doesn’t mind it too much, though he may seek out a quieter spot either in the home or the backyard depending on the time of year. I followed right behind him and into his room, trying to see what was up for him. I wondered if I could calm him down a little, only to have him continue to hoot and holler and try to hide in his bed. I was worried and a little frustrated, knowing that with guests over for a major holiday I would be pulled around the house for the rest of the night. But then I stopped, and had a moment when memories of holidays at his age started to flood my mind. I was brought back to many a time at my grandmother’s apartment in Chicago, hanging out on a given holiday and waiting for...the relatives. I remembered how much anxiety I myself had about all of those uncles, aunts and cousins busting through the door; how loud and intense the small space became almost instantly. I began to reflect on maybe some of my own idiosyncrasies — maybe some that could qualify me on the spectrum in some ways — and how might that be any different than what my son was experiencing now? 

This is the struggle of this upcoming time of year, realizing that there is a big part of my son that doesn’t want or need a house full of people during this time, or maybe most times of year. And if he does find them in his home, we will more than likely find him in his bedroom taking his time and space. He certainly doesn’t want to experience it at someone else’s home, as we have done many times before. Now being settled in our understanding that it’s just not for our family, we just do our holidays differently. Maybe this year, when we have a few too many folks come through our door, should I find myself back in my son’s room giving him some support and comfort, I might just bring out his Bible, open up to some of his favorite scriptures, and settle in for some good quality bonding time; remembering the most important aspects of the holidays, remembering my own experience, and how what I might have wanted more than anything is for someone to connect with me in the same way that I can now connect to my own son.

Pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our comforter, friend and savior. Thank you for being the one we can run to when we are anxious, afraid and overwhelmed, giving us an ultimate sense of peace in our lives. Be with us in the busy and frantic times the holidays will bring, and provide us with a blanket of protection that we may turn to wherever we may find ourselves and whatever those circumstances may bring. In Your Name, Amen.

John Felageller

No comments:

Post a Comment