Christmas: opening up, and escaping



It wasn’t my idea to host Christmas; my husband suggested it. The last time, a few years back, I found pretty tough; the difference is that now, I know what’s underpinning it all, and what I need to try and avoid. I like my family, but having them all there for almost a week is a bit overload. I was pretty glad to have running as an excuse to get out the house: I’ve run regularly for some years now, and often go to my local parkrun. There was one on Christmas Day, as well as the regular Saturday parkrun on the 27th.

There weren’t any major arguments, just little frictions. My husband and I tend to get up pretty early, and go to bed early, which didn’t always sit well with the rest of the family. I’d submitted my PhD thesis a couple of weeks before after burning the candle at both ends to finish it, then had a fairly hectic schedule with some work commitments, as well as having to do all the Christmas shopping and preparations. I’m afraid I was quite snappy with anyone complaining about their accommodation (although I did not, as I’d threatened, send anyone home for complaining). I felt on the verge of meltdown as I tried to go to sleep on Christmas Eve – in tears – but the parkrun seemed to get me back in a better mood, and I managed to keep going for the rest of it, although I probably wasn’t very communicative.

My Dad perused my bookshelves, and wondered why I had so many books on Aspergers, so I told him the reason: because I probably have it. He was disbelieving, and kept talking over me every time I tried to explain, so I sent him off with the AQ test. He got 27, which was pretty much where I thought he’d be. He has some Aspie traits, but I don’t think he’s over the threshold (people don’t, as far as I can tell, think he’s weird). I think that gave him a better idea of the symptoms, so when I told him my score (42 most recently: it’s gone up 1 or 2 points as I’ve realised I do Aspie stuff that I didn’t originally think I did), he seemed to get it.

“Oh,” he said. “Oh. Right.”

He’s confirmed that I definitely stim – the handflapping, I think, which I hadn’t realised, although I know I occasionally rock, and have various fidgetty things I do. I’m not sure if he’s told my Mum.

Although I gather some Aspies struggle to adapt back after the festivities, I don’t. I guess I’m used to the house becoming suddenly quiet when my husband heads back to work (he’s away for several days at a time), and it was a relief to be able to get all the rid of all the Stuff – furniture, bags, noise – that had been a bit much over the previous few days. I was also feeling uncomfortable spending so many days not working, as it was difficult to concentrate with so many people around. Now I’m back to it: job applications, and re-writing chunks of my research so that it can be published in academic journals (fingers crossed).

And my husband, whose idea it all was? I think he struggled more than me. He’s an only child, and not close to his family (he was to his Mum, but she passed away before I met him), so having lots of people around, and people you feel you have to be on your best behaviour around (which I don’t!) was tougher than he expected. Next year, Christmas is at my parents’, and Christmas lunch will be at a local restaurant, which will take some of the pressure off everyone, I think. Hopefully it’ll also include a parkrun.



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