We love the Christmas holidays. We love giving and getting gifts, shopping for gifts, pictures with Santa, putting up the tree, decorating the house, and of course the baking and the eating. And, of course when I say we, I mean me and The Mommy. PT, not so much. PT likes looking at the tree, and being in charge of turning on and turning off the lights, but he doesn’t care for the time it takes to get the tree up, the restrictions on what he can do in the living room while it is up, and how that interferes with his routine of playing the Wii and dumping every toy he owns on our living room floor while listening to whatever cartoon is on the TV.

PT also enjoys helping me bake cookies, to a point. He likes dumping the ingredients, helping me measure, and mixing by hand. BUT, the moment the stand mixer turns on, he bolts. It is too loud for him. He will shop for anyone we want him to buy gifts for, but only at his “Santa Shop” at school because there aren’t as many people or as much noise at the mall or stores like Wal-Mart or Target. If we do go to those stores with him, we can only look at what he wants to look at, and he doesn’t last very long before the whining and complaining start the down hill slide.

On the few occasions where I do take him with me, say to buy gifts for The Mommy, we have to have a specific plan of attack. We have to know what we are looking for, where we are going to get it, and if there are multiple stores involved, the exact order we plan on stopping, and unless the store has things that interest him (like the talking ornaments and decorations at the Hallmark store) we can browse or stay long at all. Many times PT and I will sit at the computer and look over the gifts we want to get, I will get his approval and suggestions, and then I will go myself and leave him at home, especially if browsing is involved (like for clothes). As far as wrapping said gifts, I can usually get him to pick which gifts get what paper, but that is about as far as that goes. He doesn’t really the patience required to wrap gifts or help me wrap gifts.

Pictures with Santa have always been, … interesting. He is the most photogenic child I have every seen, and I am not boasting. I have I had many people including a few professional photographers tell me how he should model. But the kicker is, he HATES getting his picture taken. We can force the issue occasionally but usually he doesn’t co-operate when The Mommy or I are taking the pictures. And, sometimes he doesn’t even co-operate for the photographers. He loves to talk to see Santa. See, being the operative word. Sometimes we will talk to Santa but the conversations are very short. Usually, going something like this:

Santa: Have you been good this year

PT: Yes

Santa: What would like for Christmas

PT: Toy 1, Toy 2, Toy 3

Santa: I will see what I can do about that

PT: Okay, good-bye (and walks away)

The whole exchange will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute. There is no eye contact the whole time. He will barely sit long enough for pictures and he always tried to stay as far from Santa as possible .

This has been Christmas in the ‘Patience’ household for years now. PT is our only child, and so this is what we know. We are use to it and it is our routine. We don’t expect much from him when it comes to seeing Santa.

This year however was completely different. He engaged with Santa. He made eye contact. He talked with Santa for at least five minutes and maybe more than that. We actually got a genuine smile during the pictures and when it was all over he touched Santa’s hand. It was only a fist bump that Santa’s magic gloves made squeak, but he allowed it to happen. And, most importantly he enjoyed it!

PT has made quite a bit of progress over the year. He is making social strides at school. His mobile therapist has been working on turn taking through PT’s favorite video games. But I think for me, the biggest sign of progress is going to be how he engaged with Santa, the Friday before Christmas.