If your family has a member with a bonus chromosome, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Down syndrome holidays are the best.
Jack has loved Christmas ever since the first year he was able to pull ornaments off of our Christmas tree. It isn’t just Christmas. Jack loves festivities. We call them his Down syndrome holidays. Jack measures his year by a series of joyous events where people and things are celebrated. Jack is nineteen and he still can’t rattle off the year by sequential months. But on January first, ask him what’s next and he’ll go through a list of family birthdays until reaching his, in March. Ask him what comes after his birthday and the Down syndrome holidays will continue with more birthdays of loved ones until he gets to the demolition derby. That’s an always sold-out redneck revival celebrated annually during the Fourth of July weekend in our small mountain valley. One year the announcer even convinced the entire crowd to sing Jack’s favorite song for him. I’ll never forget hearing over 5,000 rednecks and visiting redneck-wannabes (some of them sober) singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer during the sweltering heat of a Fourth of July celebration. Of course Jack can complete his recitation of the year by the remaining birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. If your family has a member with a bonus chromosome, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Down syndrome holidays are the best.
Last year, when Jack was eighteen, he was starting to catch on to the whole Santa thing. It had been a long and happy ride that I was sad to realize would soon come to an end. Our family has always tried to focus on a more serious side of Christmas but Jack keeps the magic alive. Christmas, with its mysterious man in red is among the most revered of Down syndrome holidays. Last year, when Jack saw the Tim Allen movie, The Santa Clause, he suddenly realized how it worked. He just knew that poor old Santa would fall off our house, meeting his demise while leaving the magic suit and position for him to inherit. I guess it was pretty logical thinking. We have a three-story house with 45 degree pitched roofs and we live in the middle of the mountains where there is almost always snow on our roof on Christmas Eve. If Santa was fated to fall of a roof, ours would be a likely choice. And a fifteen foot slide followed by a thirty-foot plunge would most certainly expedite the old elf’s passing into another world. Once Jack had all that figured out (on his own) I was mildly surprised that he wasn’t out spraying down the roof with the garden hose to give it the added effect of ice.
Rather than let Christmas slip in it’s ranking of Down syndrome holidays at our house, we would bump it up. Forever!
My wife is the one who is most in tune with how to work with Jack and she had an idea. Jack knew that Santa had lots of helper/impersonators. Why not make him one of them? Rather than let Christmas slip in it’s ranking of Down syndrome holidays at our house, we would bump it up. Forever!
Shortly after Thanksgiving, last year, a special delivery from the North Pole arrived at our house along with a personalized, written request from the Old Man in Red for Jack to agree to become one of his helpers. Jack readily accepted the invitation before he tore into the package and pulled out his own full-blown Santa suit to be used during the happiest of Down syndrome holidays.
Those of you who follow my writings know that our community shares Jack with us and they are all-in when it comes to increasing his love for life and people. This is particularly the case when they can participate in Down syndrome holidays. Several people who run the High Star Guest Ranch, next door to our house, had chosen a family for a sub-for-Santa and they solicited Jack’s help to make the delivery in full north-pole dress.
If you don’t have a member of your family that has intellectual disabilities then I urge you to remedy that deficiency by imposing on a neighbor whose house is overwhelmed with holiday cheer right now.
Jack showed up at the home of the cowboy/philanthropists ready to help. But first he coaxed even the toughest of them to join with him in singing Christmas songs with an energy level that seems difficult to repeat except during Down syndrome holidays. After making the delivery they slipped into the home of one of the family donors for a few more Christmas songs with Jack. When it came time to leave, Jack turned to the group and said with animation; “Alright! Where’s my milk and cookies?” An audible gasp was followed by my wife telling Jack that he didn’t need a treat, a roar of laughter from several and a lady scrambling through her kitchen trying to see if they had anything that could be considered a cookie. Eventually a box of vanilla wafers saved the day and they were served to Santa’s newest helper with a glass of milk.
If you don’t have a member of your family that has intellectual disabilities then I urge you to remedy that deficiency by imposing on a neighbor whose house is overwhelmed with holiday cheer right now. Take a small treat or present and be prepared to be paid back a thousand-fold by someone who knows not only how to appreciate holidays, but who celebrates life in general.
And dear friends, during this time of holidays, regardless of your religious position or beliefs, our family would like to wish to you perhaps the most profound words ever spoken, sung or penned by a lyricist: “Peace on Earth. Good Will Toward Men.”
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