We’ve finally reached the point in the year where the weather has started to cool, and the trees have shed most of their leaves. It’s hard to believe that we’re already a full week into November, but here we are.
This is usually the point in the year where I realize that we’ve officially started careening toward the holidays… And, at least for me, the closer we get to Christmas, the faster that time seems to go. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. And Nolan turns 16 a month from today. By the time that happens, I’m officially in scramble mode.
With Nolan’s birthday and Christmas being just a few weeks apart, it feels like we always struggle with what kind of gifts he’ll enjoy. In years past, we’ve solved part of that problem by switching out birthday gifts and a party for a weekend family trip. That didn’t happen last year, and we’re honestly not planning it this year—at this age we wouldn’t likely be having parties anyway, and the current economy isn’t doing our birthday celebration budget any favors. The plan this year is to add a quiet/ cozy corner to his bedroom along with some of the colorful LED light strips to give him an option somewhere in between pitch black and bright as the midday sun.
Christmas is a different kind of challenge this year. While we often try to add a few new pieces to his wardrobe at Christmas, Nolan outgrew most of his cool-weather clothes over the summer. As a result, most of those have already been replaced this fall (because let’s face it—cold winter air hits Wisconsin long before Christmas). So then our thoughts tend to turn to Nolan’s interests and the things that bring him joy.
So what does Nolan love? Well, he asks for balloons almost every time we go into a store. But as much as he would love a bunch big enough to float our little house off to Paradise Falls just like Carl & Ellie’s in the movie UP! that's just not practical. After 3 days, we would have crinkly metallic bags of disappointment floating a foot from the ceiling while trying to convince the cats not to eat the ribbons the balloons would trail throughout the house. That’s just not a good Christmas present.
But what else does Nolan really love? That would be music.
Even the artist who did our Bob's Burgers style family portrait could see Nolan's love of music. (Artwork by The Cuddle Cult)
Nolan’s been working with a local Music Therapist for a number of years now… And she’s awesome. But lately? He’s been doing better with her than normal. From what Kirk tells me, we’re not talking just a little bit better… He’s really hit his stride, and is (as a friend of mine would say), “He’s a rock star.”
So obviously we want to use Christmas as an opportunity to encourage him. Sure we’ve bought instruments for him in the past (like the keyboard that he wore out in under a year and more small percussion items than you’d find in a typical elementary school music room), but this year we wanted to do something a little bigger.
So we’re watching for a decent used drum set that falls in our price range. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, so let me answer a few questions…
· Yes, apparently, I AM that mom.
· No, I never really thought I would be that mom.
· Yes—Kirk is also on board.
· No, I have no idea where we’re going to put a pile of drums that size.
· Yes, our house is close to the neighbors on both sides… I am hoping that noise won’t be a problem (at least not until the weather is warmer and we all live with open windows again…)
· No, we won’t be buying stock in ear plugs. If we were people who invested in the stock market we would’ve invested in Campbell’s Soup by now…
· I genuinely appreciate your concern, but I assure you this decision is unrelated to my mental health.
· Maybe I should consider giving Kirk some noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas—that’s a great idea.
Hopefully that covers the bulk of them… But really, Nolan has a talent for keeping a beat, so why not? (I'm adding video proof largely because he's my kid and I like to show him off...)
While it may seem like the kind of thing most people would joke about giving their nieces and nephews as a way to torture their siblings, it feels like a good fit for Nolan. And, yes, we may end up with some extra headaches in months to come… Or they could sit unused collecting dust—it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it happened with a gift we’ve given Nolan. That’s just another one of those things that happens with Nolan. Whether it’s the autism or the fact that he’s a teenager, we may never know.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go stock up on earplugs. And Excedrin.