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Our Inclusive Holiday Traditions

By KERIA GROS

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The holidays are my favorite time of the year, despite the stress, and my joy for the holidays really blossomed when I became a mom. Creating memories and  new traditions warms my heart. Our son Greyson is 4 years old this year, and this is the first year he understands what the holidays are.  We’ve attended events for ourselves in years’ past because it never clicked for him until this year. Finding things for Greyson to enjoy and love during the holidays have been challenging in the past, but as he gets older it’s becoming easier.

The first event we always attend is Santa Land. At Santa Land, you can take pictures with Santa and enjoy food, games, & crafts. It’s a really fun event!  Two years ago, they hosted their first special needs night at Santa Land. They sell minimal tickets to avoid overcrowding and overwhelming our kids. Our kids get the same experience in a less overwhelming environment. This gives us chance to interact with the other different-needs kids throughout our community too. The Santa Land volunteers are very good with the kids. They help make crafts—if needed, and Santa is very interactive. I feel this is a Santa experience like no other. During Greyson’s first year attending, we got a picture of him face to face with Santa giving him a fist bump.  Santa got down onto his level and made sure he felt comfortable.  That photo was so memorable, when we came back for our second year, Santa remembered Greyson.

We generally keep our family traditions simple and it doesn’t take much too peak Greyson’s excitement. To kick off our Christmas season, we always decorate the house and put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Greyson was able to help decorate it this year.  I was able to lift him up, and help him put his ornaments on the tree. We buy Christmas jammies every year & the boys have their own first Christmas ornament with their names on them. We also have a family ornament to mark each time our family grew.

We always bake cookies for Santa. Greyson is showing more interest in helping in the kitchen.  Letting him help make the cookies has always been great for sensory play.  Last year, we let him take the leftover flour that was in the pan and let him roll his cars through it.  It looks like it snowed for his cars and his imagination took off.  Messes can always be cleaned up later.

For Greyson’s first Christmas, my sister in law gave him a Santa plate and mug for the cookies and milk. We still have it four years later. Last year we added Declan’s name onto the plate to carry on the tradition.

Our newest family tradition is slowing down a little. Jess and I both come from divorced families. We have 4 family sides total to try to get to.  Over the years we used to shove everyone in in a matter of two days.  This would leave Greyson tired and overwhelmed.  Now we are trying to spread it out more over the month of December. We made the decision last year that we would start staying home for Christmas day. We would always travel, but last year I gave birth to my youngest, Declan. I was still recovering from my surgery and it was very cold last year in Louisiana.  Bringing a newborn out into the weather wasn’t ideal.  We ended up cooking a meal at home and family came to us—we enjoyed it. Greyson was able to have a full day to play with his new toys and just slow down life a little. We used to get so consumed from the hustle of the holidays, that we never really truly had a chance to actually enjoy them. It’s not that we don’t want to spend time with our families on Christmas Day, but Greyson is older and I don’t want his memories of Christmas to always be in a rush.

Whatever your tradition may be, whatever you celebrate, I hope that you make it fun.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant.  It can be something very small and simple.  Don’t try to please everyone and do what’s best for your family.  The holidays are stressful enough; don’t add more stress on your already overwhelmed plate.  Family will understand, if they don’t, then that’s their problem.  We hope everyone has a joyous holiday season!

 

KERIA GROS

Keria Gros is a mother of two boys, Greyson and Declan and resides in a small town in Louisiana. Greyson is a pediatric stroke survivor who also has Cerebral Palsy. Keria is the writer of the personal blog and Instagram Account, Greyson’s Gains, created to raise awareness on pediatric strokes and cerebral palsy, connect, and help other parents. Keria’s goal is to ensure no parent feels like they are alone in their journey.

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