Perhaps this post is a little bit late in its timing as many holidays have already begun or passed such as Thanksgiving, St.Lucia day, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and many others. However, Christmas is in just a few days. From my experience, I cannot be completely sure if the holidays are so welcoming for people on the autism spectrum. There are so many wonderful things at this time of year such as the arrival of snow, holiday delights, and beautiful light displays. There are also many things that are also quite horrid. I wish that I could write this entry as a guide to the holiday season for people with autism, but the reality is that I am not an expert in autism. In addition to which, this is my first holiday season being aware of my Asperger’s. I want this to end on a cheery note, therefore, I will get the bulk of my complaining out of the way now.
What I do not like about the Holidays:
- Socializing- During the Holidays, you have to see family members that you most likely do not see the rest of the year. You have to make small talk with them and pretend that you are interested in their personal life, even if you are not. It is tedious, and very draining.
- Touching- In addition to the unnecessary conversations and meeting with distant family, you will also be forced to touch them. Most people display love and affection by hugging, kissing, shoulder rubbing, ect. It makes my skin crawl. It does not feel good when people touch me, and the negative sensation tends to linger on my skin long after I am actually being touched no matter how many layers I wear. Why do I have to suffer just because everyone else would like to be hugged? Why can’t they just hug each other? It is not likely that the will die from hug deprivation.
- Gift Exchanging- I would be lying if I said that I did not like receiving gifts. I like receiving gifts when I know exactly what they are going to be, so I won’t have to worry about hurting the gift-givers feelings, if I do not like it. I am not a very good liar, and if I don’t like something, you will know. I enjoy making homemade gifts for people, but most do not seems to appreciate them. I hate buying gifts for people because I find the process to be extremely stressful, and I do not get the same happy feeling everyone else seems to get when they give a store-bought gift. I would much rather buy myself something, and avoid the whole gift exchange.
- Volume- I cannot function very well in loud environments. Especially, if more than one person is talking at once.
- Crowds- I normally do not like leaving my house on a normal day, but it is made a million times worse when crowds are added to public places. It is a complete nightmare to be in such close proximity with strangers and crowds tend to carry large amounts of germs as well as loud volumes.
What I love about the Holidays:
- The Aesthetics- Houses and buildings are decorated with lights that illuminate a long and dreary winter. Everything is either shiny, red, or green, and green is my absolute favorite color.
- The Scents- Nothing smells better to me than cinnamon, and cinnamon is very abundant this time of year. I am also a lover of balsam or Christmas tree smells, and they are also around this time of year.
- Food- Holiday food is so indulgent and beautiful. I love drinking hot chocolate and eating fancy cookies and cakes. I also love baking and decorating cookies, and trying out different holiday recipes from across the world. This year, I will be making a popular Swedish Christmas dish of mustard “herring”. (The reason that I put herring in quotation marks is because it will actually be eggplant as I am vegan.)
- Movies- The cold weather outside and time off of school/work provides the perfect environment to curl up on the couch with coco and watch holiday favorites such as “Elf”, “The Holiday”, and “The Grinch who stole Christmas”. They always make me laugh and want to start spreading holiday cheer by singing.
- The Merriment- People tend to be slightly more relaxed this time of year as well as forgiving. I do not understand many of the traditions that people hold dear to their hearts which involve other people, but I cannot entirely deny the slightly contagious spirit in the air.
Hopefully, this was not too lengthy or tiresome. Perhaps, someone else can relate to my holiday grievances. As I mentioned above, this is my first holiday season that I am aware of my autism. I know that nothing has to change now that I know. I do not want to have to explain myself to people, but I wonder, if I told people about my diagnosis, would they still insist on hugging and touching me. I wish that they could understand that I do not want to be hugged because of my atypical brain, not because of my age, or for vanity reasons.
If anyone is looking for a holiday tune to listen to, I would like to recommend Florence and the Machine’s version of “Last Christmas”. It is not the happiest Christmas song, but Florence’s vocals are incredible and add a level of depth to the song that does not exist in any other version of the song.
Have a joyous holiday season,