How I Drama-proof Christmas Day With My Angel

This columnist shares how she plans a quiet, simple Christmas for her family

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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Now that I’ve figured out how to drama-proof the occasion, Christmas Day has become one of my favorite holidays to spend with my family. Easing stress during activities is getting easier as my 12-year-old Angel, Juliana, grows older. We’ve settled into a comfortable holiday routine that fits both her needs and those of her 11-year-old sister, Jessa.

Our plans evolved, firstly, when I decided to stay home for Christmas and, secondly, when I began ignoring what mainstream and social media say about the perfect holiday. The perfect Christmas is the one that meets our family’s needs, including the one with Angelman syndrome.

Jessa still loves waking up early and alerting everyone that it’s Christmas Day. The first year she did this was not well received by Juliana. Angels don’t always respond well to noise or changes in their routines. It took a lot of reassuring and calming for Juliana to be OK that Christmas morning. It was a rough way to start the holiday.

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I also remember Juliana being more interested in eating breakfast than opening gifts that year. At first, I didn’t realize that the fussing continued because Juliana wanted to eat. To remedy this, I now make sure that Juliana’s breakfast is waiting for her or is served when she sits down at the Christmas tree.

Jessa also restrains her excitement if Juliana is still asleep. When she hears Juliana stirring, she’ll quietly tap on her door and announce in a sweet whisper that it’s Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, Juliana was sick last Christmas and slept until almost noon.

We simply waited until she got up and did the celebration all over again as she opened her favorite things. Juliana’s gifts don’t include a ton of toys that will be broken by midday. I stopped buying toys like this because they didn’t fit Juliana’s needs. Instead, I fill her stocking with edible goodies I know she’ll enjoy. Clothes, her favorite musical toy, and beach balls round out her surprises. 

I’m dreaming of a low-key Christmas

After the girls have had their fill of playing with their toys, we may play some games and have a few relatives drop by. But we don’t go out visiting as we’d normally do for Thanksgiving. We stay home and lie low. Some of this is for Juliana, but a lot of it is for me.

“I like the Christmas holiday best because we slow down, and the world slows down a little bit, too,” I told my husband the other day. He agreed with my observation.

Keeping our Christmas Day simple gives me time to enjoy the season and our family. I also like the low-key approach because I don’t need to have a plan ready for heading out. We’re getting better at managing Juliana’s hyperactivity. But she still tires of activities easily, even good ones. Our outings, no matter how small, need a bit of planning.

I know many people enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas and all the excitement and noise it brings. I prefer the quieter joys, and I’ve created a celebration that keeps my Angel content and lets me steal some downtime. The day is so perfect for us that I don’t know if I could dream up a better one. 

Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


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