. . . and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
I’ve always loved Dickens’ classic about Scrooge. It speaks of what I yearn for most at Christmas: transformation. Maybe it’s because Christmas comes so close to the date on which we change our calendars over, or maybe because the underlying story of Christmas is the transformation of mankind through something so simple and natural as the birth of a child. Whatever the reason, I always look for a big transformation in my life at this time of the year.
Yes, I know transformation has to start within. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions. But it’s only natural to look for Christmas miracles.
My expectations for transformation are so high, and are never realized ⎯ at least not in ways I initially thought. I’ve come to realize that I need to not look just for a transformation yet to come, but also to notice the transformations that have occurred in my life without appreciation on my part.
My son’s autism has transformed my life . . . for better and worse. Do I wish it never happened? That’s a fair statement. Is it something I want to change? Absolutely. And yet it has led me to wonderful places. I’ve written before
of how having a child on the spectrum has made me a better parent to all my children. And it has introduced me to wonderful people I have so little in common with except the fact that our children have ASD.
Transformation is a gradual process, and sometimes requires the ability to reflect. For example, several months ago I spoke favorably of the short video “Autism Every Day
,” produced by Autism Speaks. I was almost relieved to see a stark depiction of the problems some of us face, mainly because it came at a time when we were bombarded with media stories that seemed to imply that autism was basically a pretty cool thing to have in one’s life. (Hey kids, it’s fun; you can play piano sonatas, shoot three-pointers, and you’ll be ever so smart.)
Although I initially agreed to an extent with many of the criticisms leveled at the video, I thought it was a worthwhile undertaking. With the benefit of hindsight, I’ve changed my opinion; the flaws in the video are big enough to keep it from being a positive contribution to “autism awareness.” Specifically, the video lacks two important elements: joy and hope. No joy is expressed for the lives of our children, autism and all. And there is no hope expressed that we can improve the lives of our children. Without joy and hope, any “awareness” is empty.
Joy and hope are essential to the lives of everyone, including “curebies
.” Hope and joy fuel transformation.
My wish for you and your family is that you have a blessed Christmas and a transforming New Year. I hope 2007 will be filled with enough joy to recognize the miracles around us, even as we hope for miracles yet to come.
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!