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Christmas at Grandma's House


We all had such a wonderful time last night at the Christmas dinner at grandma’s house.  It was great to have everybody in one place at one time. But this year, well… this year was especially wonderful.  I want to thank my mother-in-law, Thelma, from the bottom of my heart.  For those struggling with family get togethers - this is how it's done, and done wonderfully.  This post is to thank this wonderful lady for one of the best holiday get togethers I have ever experienced.     

Dear Thelma,

First, I want you to know that Matt has always loved going to your house.  He is comfortable there.  You always have a newspaper for him to read, a word-search puzzle for him to concentrate on and something on the television that he enjoys.  He loves watching the news, but he also loves the silly obstacle-course game shows and the history channel and you always seem to have on just the right show going on in the background – shows I doubt you would watch if not for Matt.  There are times when I have wondered if his love of watching the news is an off-shoot from time spent in the comfort of your home.  I like to think you help to instill that in him.


Christmas gifts can be a challange when buying for an autistic young man.  Believe me, I know Matt can be difficult to buy for – for any occasion -but that has never seemed to have been a problem for you. You realized so quickly when Matt was young that this guy loves to shop and the very best gift for him is the money to do so.  His expression when he opens the card to find a crisp $50.00 bill is one of pure joy – it’s apparent that you understand him very, very well.  He is anxious almost immediately to spend it and his mind quickly focuses on scheduling a whirl-wind shopping spree.  Matt did just that on our way home last night.  We have already made our plans to take him.  Matt is so excited!   


Matt spent the evening comfortable – as if he were right at home, listening to conversations, engaged with the word-search puzzles or reading the newspaper. He stretched out on your couch to watch a countdown of the “101Gadgets That Changed the World”.   He loves history and he was glued to the TV for the top 10 - as were everyone else in the room - such a wonderfully natural response. Earlier in the evening his siblings had him laughing so hard he had tears and the sound of his laughter filled my heart more than I can adequately express.  The entire evening was joyous and warm and loving and I am in awe of the thoughtfulness you showed so effortlessly for my youngest son.  This year you really out-did yourself.  This year, even the menu reflected your thoughts of Matt.


The menu of our wonderful get-together was so Matt-oriented.  His favorite vegetables(peas and corn), his favorite food (fries) – did not go unnoticed. I want to express my deepest gratitude for the dinner – it was all so ….wonderful.  I felt bad that Matt would not eat the chicken tenders.  I know you had them for him as his favorite meal is chicken nuggets and fries.  But, unfortunately, you were not aware there was a difference between nuggets and tenders and that is my fault – not yours.   It is my fault that he didn’t eat them because I never made it clear how picky he is about the shape of a chicken nugget. He tried, Thelma, he really did. He took a bite, looked at me with a face filled with worry and quilt then shook his head.  He just couldn’t eat it.  I told him it was OK, that he didn’t have to, that you would understand . . . and I know in my heart that you do. Matt was instantly relieved because Matt knew it in his heart too.  He knows how much you love him. 


The entire evening was wonderful.  I can’t remember a better Christmas.  It would be a shame if I never told you.  You made it all so perfect for everyone.  We all had such a great time.  But especially, I wanted you to know how much it meant to me and Matt and that none of it went unnoticed.  Matt is difficult to gage sometimes.  It’s hard to know what he will eat, what he will do and what he wants as gifts – but you have really shined these past years in your understanding, compassion and awareness of his autism.  For me, this Christmas was the best Christmas ever for family and loved ones.  That’s my own perspective of course.  There was so much warmth, laughter, joy, love, and understanding that filled your home that I just couldn’t let this experience slip away without saying thank you. 


So, thank you, Thelma, for being a wonderful mother-in-law and a wonderful grandmother to all of our children. And from the bottom of my heart –thank you for taking the time and expending the energy and demonstrating so much love for my youngest son.  It’s not easy – apparently – because so many find it so difficult to do, but you made it seem easy – as simple as breathing.

Thank you. Our Christmas with you this year was more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. I want you to know how special you are.  I love you.


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