Doing Christmas differently
T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring. Thank goodness for that!
Christmas 2020 was a special Christmas for me - and no doubt for many other people. For some it was just the same. But for many people with neurodivergent conditions, like myself, having a mandatorily quiet Christmas was an eye-opening experience.
Typically, my family gathers from all corners of the UK to my parents’ house - near Preston - for the festive period. We all squeeze into the house and play games, drink alcohol, and socialise. It’s great to see them but there’s nowhere to go for a quiet moment. And it’s always too cold, wet and miserable outside to escape comfortably for peace and quiet.
In any social occasion - even work-related ones – I seek a little peace and quiet. You may find me in the corner of the room with a book.
I value the happiness and joy of Christmas, just not all the busy social interaction.
No, I’m not The Grinch.
I’m officially ADHD, with “we should probably also give you an ASD assessment” on the side.
And, often, I just don’t find it easy to get on well with people. They crowd my mind and I feel that I can’t be myself. Not in a misanthropic way - I just need space and calm to be me. Paul. And if I can’t be me, I tend to become nothing. A struggling mute entity going through the motions until calm returns.
So, with less people, Christmas 2020 was… actually nice.
Small doses, small groups, manageable allocations of time with a little distance and respect for an invisible adversary looming in every cough, sneeze or breath.
Of course, I would have preferred a year without the pandemic and COVID, but we got through it without all turning green and going about Whoville stealing all the Christmas trees. We managed to have a more asocial Christmas without losing our cultural identity. And some of us preferred it.
In 2021 the tree is up again, the decorations are out, the (dreaded) music is playing on every radio station and in every supermarket - we made it!
And I guess what I want people to take away from my story is that we should consider the bigger picture when a friend or relative isn’t as invested in being as festive as you’d like them to be. Everybody is different. Everybody has things going on. We all naturally value things in different ways, but that doesn’t mean we devalue them or that non-participation is rejection.
Some of us just prefer to do things differently, or with less fuss, and that’s OK.
About the author
Paul Geraghty is a Process Improvement Analyst at TalkTalk. He is also part of the TalkNeurodiversity employee network at TalkTalk.