all along


Although my recent return to work has made this the most harried holiday season in recent memory, there has been something particularly magical about this Christmas. Even as I’ve run around town like a headless chicken in search of gifts for the eight hundred and thirty-seven people on my list, I’ve felt it. Even as I’ve defiantly turned the lights out and walked away from rooms that desperately needed to be tidied and cleaned, I’ve known it. Even as I’d told friends and family that I simply won’t be able to send their gifts in time for the holiday this year, my heart has been full.

This Christmas has been different because, as I’ve said to anyone who would listen, THIS year Brooke GETS it. Heck, I said it to you.

She gets every bit of it. She gets the Santa part and the reindeer part and the asking for presents part. She gets the wanting part and the waiting part and is even starting to come around to the maybe not getting EVERYTHING on one’s list part. She gets the Elf on the Shelf part. The first words out of her mouth EVERY SINGLE morning are, “Where’s Scouter?”

She gets the giving part – at least sort of. At the local Kid’s House of Exorbitantly Priced Do It Yourself Arts and Crafts she chose figurines to paint as presents for the family members that will be with us on Christmas – *spoiler alert* – Dora for Grammy, Blue for Grandpa DD and Elmo for her Aunt Michelle.

She gets the advent calendar part. Every night before bed, she searches her advent elf’s pockets for just the right treat.

I’ve been over the moon that my girl is GETTING it, that she’s been a true participant in the process, in the traditions; in Christmas. It’s a whole new world for us.

But the other night there was a hint at something. Something big. Something that knocked me on the head and reminded me that I have been looking at my girl through MY lens. And forgetting to look at the world through HERS. And that if I had been looking through hers, I wouldn’t have been able to forget that there’s always, ALWAYS, a whole lot more than what I THINK I see.

Come closer, my friends. This is important.

We were in the basement, hauling up the last of the Christmas decorations. I was covered in red and green as I tried to make the most of my two arms in an attempt to minimize trips. I walked slowly toward the steps – a wreath slung across one shoulder and a stack of table linens on the other. Both hands were full – one with the kitchen Santa, the other with his cookie baking wife, Mrs Claus. A basket of silk ribbon was precariously balanced in the crook of my left arm.

Brooke stood in front of the shelves, holding another Santa by his hat. “C’mon, baby,” I yelled back. “Let’s make a trip up. You carry your Santa.”

She didn’t move.

“Brooke, honey,” I said, “This stuff is getting heavy. I’m going to drop it upstairs, OK?”

She didn’t move. Instead she said, “Mom, where’s my tree?”

The wreath was beginning to dig into my shoulder. “What tree, honey?” I asked.

“My tree,” she said. “That goes in my room. With Zoe on it. And Big Bird. And Elmo. But NO Cookie Monster. Mom, where’s my tree?”

Years ago, I bought the girls their own little tabletop trees. While Katie set about decorating hers, Brooke barely took notice of hers. Katie took her time choosing garland and tinsel, then took great care in picking exactly the right ornaments. For weeks on end we wandered through the aisles of ANY store that sold decorations. She was determined to find just the right ones.

Brooke simply didn’t seem to care. I showed her ornament after ornament trying to solicit an opinion – or at least a reaction – but none was forthcoming. Finally, I stopped asking and chose them for her. I found adorable beaded garland and strung it around the colored lights. I searched high and low for ornaments that I thought she’d like to look at. I found Sesame Street and Dora, even Blue’s Clues. And when it was finished, I put it into her room, just like her big sister’s.


I carefully laid the wreath on the floor. I set the ribbons down along with Mr and Mrs Claus. I walked over to my girl and pointed to where her tree was sitting on the shelf, hidden behind two others. “Do you want to bring your tree upstairs, Brooke?” I asked.

“I do,” she said.

She walked next to me as I carried the small tree up two flights of stairs. She chose a spot for it and together, we set it down in her room, on her dresser, right where it had always been. And right where she’d known it belonged.

Later that night we lit her tree before bed. As we snuggled together in the warm glow of the lights, it hit me.

Brooke knew all along. She GOT it all along. For the millionth time, I was the one who didn’t get it at all.


37 thoughts on “all along

  1. The children are watching and listening….ALL of them. Make sure you walk the walk all the time because they are ALL watching, always.
    Love you,

  2. Wonderful and this is why when people say of Boy Wonder, “Oh he doesn’t get it, mind, understand whatever.” I proclaim loudly,” Yes my boy does get it.” and then I fight the urge to smack them.


  3. Merry Christmas!! It’s really the presents that can’t be purchased in a store, but that shine from the heart that matter. Brooke is like the kind of present that just keeps on giving…. You are truly blessed!

  4. May I say, as an adult with Aspergers, this is very interesting to read. As an adult, people often think I don’t get something, because I simply haven’t told them, because I didn’t think they were wondering. I only find out when I say something as a result of a direct question and people respond with surprise.

    I once told a friend that I thought she was in love with a certain man (to whom she is now happily married – but she was saying at the time he was just a friend), because her eyes always looked up to him in a trusting way, and she didn’t do that with anyone else. And she told me in surprise that she never realised I had such insight, and she apologised for underestimating me. I hadn’t realised she’d underestimated me, so I found her apology a bit confusing!

    So I guess I want to say that when we seem not to get something, it’s more that we haven’t expressed that we get it, because we didn’t realise that anyone was expecting us to.

    • “capriwim”, Thank you so very much for sharing with all of us today… Your comments are a great reminder that we do sometimes misinterpret the possibilities of what our loved ones on the spectrum see and think and feel, as Jess points out. We need to be reminded of this.

      Thank you!

    • Thank-you to Capriwim!!! You described this experience very well. It really is so unfortunate [as you mentioned] that the majority of people automatically translate a deficit, or unusual style of communicative skills as proof of a lack of intelligence. It seems overly simple…but, what I have found out through my own Familys’ disabilities is this. It requires Intelligence on the part of the observer, to have the Ability to Recognize the intelligence that is in others. Anotherwords; it takes one to know one!

  5. Oh I love, love this post – – that you, my dear friend, get the best of gifts a little early and that your precious little one is excited for what is now and for what is to come in the next few days.

    Merry Christmas to you and your entire beautiful family. Nope, I am not getting cards out so this is it babe. Love you!

  6. Isn’t it awesome? I discovered this same thing about a year ago. Things I never thought my boy even noticed were remembered verbatim. They ARE in there…and they always were. We just need the right keys to unlock their MANY doors but I believe- REALLY BELIEVE that with time, patience, therapy, and unconditional love we WILL unlock every single door. Because we will. Period.
    Merry Christmas Jess! Xoxoxo

  7. I love this! We’re still getting info. years later on things we thought went unnoticed or that she didn’t get. 3 years after a broken arm on the playground she finally said “*Becky* pushed me”. Wow, 3 years! but she knew it all along.

  8. Our little Brooke certainly has always gotten so much but, WOW, she certainly gets it now. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with all of you again this year.

    Love you,

  9. such a beautiful post, and such a beautiful awareness your brooke has. she integrates all of it, her surroundings, her thoughts, her feelings…sometimes in ways that may be hard to see, but she integrates nonetheless, something you illustrate perfectly here.

  10. Pingback: How lack of expression can lead to assumptions of ignorance « Aspects of Aspergers

  11. Hello again. I just want to say that your entry inspired me to write an entry about my own experiences, and I linked to your entry in mine, because I was explaining that your entry was what made me think of the topic. But if you don’t want my entry to have a link to yours, let me know and I will remove it. I am never sure of the etiquette required in such things, because in general people like to be linked to, but not always.

    Also, I want to explain that although the title of my entry is ‘How lack of expression can lead to assumptions of ignorance’ and my entry was inspired by you, I am not in any way implying that you were assuming your child was ignorant. I’m writing about my own experiences, where people have assumed I was ignorant because I haven’t expressed my thoughts and feelings. This is sometimes what happens, especially in adulthood, and your entry made me think of it and explore it in my entry. I hope it doesn’t offend you, and if it does, let me know, and I will remove the link to your blog.

    Thank you for your entry here. It helped me with self-understanding.

    • i’m thrilled – i LOVE cross blog inspiration, or as my friend, M and i call it, cross blogination. πŸ™‚

      and although i very much appreciate your sensitivity, i assure you i was not offended by the post in the least. i understood where you were going with it and was (am) happy to know i could help foster some productive introspection. πŸ™‚

  12. Great idea to let them each have their own little tree.
    We just have one huge 14 footer in our family room.
    Might have to get teeny tiny ones for my little guys for their bedrooms.
    Have a very merry Christmas.

  13. Of course she gets it.

    Thanks for reminding those of us who forget it.

    BTW, Miss M had issues with Cookie Monster too. Too unpredictable, loud – and too much like her mom, I guess.

  14. Bravo to you Jess for Your sensativity & alertness!! Don’t you wish we were nearly as astute as our remarkable Girls?? [Yours & mine.] Molli’s simple comments help me to better prioritize my thoughts nearly every single day. You certainly Are having a Happy Holiday [ tho it may appear unusual to some others.] Have yourselves A Merry Little X-Mas!

  15. That’s awesome. I wonder when our light bulb will go off. I know she takes in so much…even more than I think she does. And…you wrote this on Cymbaline’s 3rd birthday! ❀

  16. Now that my son can communicate in a way I can get, we’ve had a whole lot of this. “Mommy do you remember when I was three years old and we….” It’s humbling.

  17. I’m terrible at holidays. . Just bc I’m not big on them and e doesn’t *seem* to care. .. but this year I tried a little. . We have a tiny table top tree and I put lights on our porch. ..I don’t wanna be asked 10 yrs from now why I never did Christmas :/

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