Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stocking Stuffers

A few days ago, I finished up my Christmas shopping by purchasing stocking stuffers for Ed and Alex. To me, this task offers a fun challenge as I try to find clever and inexpensive gifts small enough to fit into their Christmas stockings that hang from our fireplace mantel. Since Alex doesn’t particularly like candy and can only eat foods that are gluten-free and casein-free (essentially free of wheat flour and milk products), most of the typical Christmas candies are not on his diet. I got him some snowman Peeps marshmallow candies and some Kraft marshmallows in the holiday shapes of pale green Christmas trees and pale red stars. He’s come to expect a copy of the new Farmer’s Almanac in his stocking every year, so I have one of those to tuck in the top, along with a pocket-sized puzzle book. In addition, the success of a multi-ink pen from last year led me to find two different (true colors and pastels) four-in-one ballpoint Bic pens. I have a feeling those may be among his favorite gifts this year, considering all the list writing he’s been doing lately. We shall see.

In the tradition of stocking stuffers, where a variety of small items are gathered together in one place, I thought I’d write about a few small topics and gather them together into one. Besides sharing the contents of Alex’s Christmas stocking, I wanted to share a link [Click here] to an online Business Week article whose title alone intrigued me: “Wal-Mart Joining Amazon to Promote Rage-Free Packaging.” Apparently these two major retailers, who happen to be among Alex’s favorites, have encouraged manufacturers to limit packaging that is not only wasteful but also causes a condition known as “wrap rage,” a frustration from trying to open the package. While “wrap rage” sounds like something only children with autism might experience because of their fine motor and sensory issues, apparently typical people suffer from this malady, as well. When Alex was younger, I often took his gifts out of the hard plastic shells before he ever saw them so that he could open them more easily; in addition, I would put batteries in his toys so that he didn’t have to wait for me to figure out how to open the childproof battery compartment. This year, I have decided to return to the good old days when Santa simply laid out Alex’s gifts beside the fireplace instead of wrapping them. Since he hasn’t been terribly patient lately, I figure that saves him a step before he can actually get to the gifts. Besides, that saves me from wrapping them, something he doesn’t seem to appreciate currently. I guess that’s my version of “rage-free packaging.” I have my fingers crossed that this works.

Another Christmas task besides not wrapping Alex’s gifts that I decided to forego this year was sending Christmas cards. When Alex was little, I was really good about taking the annual picture of him in front of the Christmas tree or the “stockings hung by the chimney with care,” but as he got older and less interested in having his picture taken, the novelty of that tradition faded. However, this year, I tried something new as I made a JibJab video with the three of us, and I think it turned out pretty amusing. [Click here for the video, which becomes our Christmas card this year.] My friends who have already seen the video have commented that telling Alex and me apart is tricky in the cartoon hats. Because his build is identical to Ed’s and some of his features are more Ed’s than mine, I don’t think of him as looking that much like me. However, dressed as elves (Alex’s nemesis, as I described in “Santa’s Spies” [Click here]), we clearly have a family resemblance. Making this video certainly beats trying to convince young adult Alex to stand still in front of the tree and smile. Plus, I don’t have to make a run to the post office when I’m done; sharing holiday greetings over the Internet certainly makes life easier.

And so, on this Christmas Day, I wish for everyone, but especially those families whose lives like ours have been touched by autism, peace, hope, and joy as we love these children and pray for their healing. May God’s greatest gift, His Son Jesus Christ, remind us how much He loves us.

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” Luke 2:13-14

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