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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Decorating… Exploded In My ADHD House

And so it begins. The ADHD Christmas decorating, wreath-building, cookie-baking, and present-hiding will commence — with typical ADHD hyperfocus and excitement. I know full well that I’m only creating work for myself in January, when all the Christmas things should come down but never do. But, still, the yuletide dopamine is stronger even than the egg nog so Ho, Ho, Ho we must!

Do we really have to deck the halls? Must we jingle the bells? Is it worth the trouble? Confronted with boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations, I’m not sure I want to do this. Will decorating be fun? Sure. Will un-decorating — preferably sometime before Easter — strain my very last nerve? Absolutely.

It’s the perpetual ADHD Christmas decorating conundrum: Go hog wild on decorations, knowing you’ll pay for it later, or keep a barren house and say you’re “going minimalist this year,” which is depressing and sad and you know you’ll eventually regret. Because, c’mon, what fun is Christmas morning with just one single tree?

No Christmas table runners? No multiple manger scenes? No auxiliary Christmas trees, no garlands, no little Santa tchotchkes decking the halls? No Christmas dishcloths or holly-jolly bathroom linens? No Father Christmas bath mat? (Yes, I own a Christmas bath mat; only God and the Whos down in Whoville can judge me). It’s a lot of effort. But it’s fun. The kids really, really, really love it.

Plus, without all the visual cues I kind of, well, forget about Christmas. I know it seems impossible as every commercial outlet in America bombards us with an Armageddon-like countdown. But I don’t mean I forget about the date. I mean I forget about the realness of Christmas day approaching.

I forget there are actually only x number of shopping days left. I forget I have to buy presents for certain people. When I finally remember to buy them, I forget to wrap the presents. And even though I have a gigantic stash of wrapping paper, only little baby Jesus in the manger knows where it’s gotten to. So I have to buy more, or resort to reusing Amazon gift bags, which are Earth-friendly, but instantly recognizable as a Christmas fail.

[Free Download: Managing Your Time During the Holidays]

And if I go minimalist, I also miss using all that special Christmas china I’ve hoarded over the years. Full disclosure: I have plenty of china. Fuller disclosure: Last year I bought out all of Goodwill’s special Christmas china because I sort of hyperfocused on Christmas dinner and on scouring Goodwill and on perfecting my hot-glue-gun skills for maximum wreath construction.

I also own a sewing machine, which I used last year to I sew all the things. The things included tree skirts and table runners and napkins and placemats and all kinds of things I haven’t had a chance to use, including a patchwork Christmas quilt. They cry out for use and admiration.

Therefore, Christmas will descend on our house this week.

I will force my husband to drag all the tubs of decorations into our living room. We will set up the fake tree (because ADHD and real trees don’t mix, which we learned through years of watching our trees die a slow, needle-shedding, fire-hazardous death). I will first set up the Jesse tree, and every night, starting December 1, the kids and I will read a Bible verse and hang up a different ornament. I will sweep the hall table clean of so much clutter and put up a Harry Potter tree, complete with a Hedwig tree skirt and homemade golden snitches.

Mangers will abound because they captivate my five-year-old. I will deck out every doorway in garlands, and we will spend afternoons making more. We will craft Santas with cotton-ball beards, snowmen with cotton-ball puffs, hats with cotton-ball tassels. Santa hats and Christmas shirts will be worn regularly throughout the month. There will be stars of all colors and all wonky angles. Candy-canes. Advent calendars. Construction-paper-ring countdowns.

[Slideshow: The Un-Tech Gift Guide for Kids with ADHD]

Because it’s Christmas. And on Christmas morning, we snarf Christmas waffles on Christmas china with Christmas mugs and Christmas napkins, atop Christmas placemats set alongside a Christmas table runner. All despite my husband’s grumbles.

And at some point, probably around the end of January, I will begin to panic. I will start the slow progression of de-Christmasing the house. It will take weeks. I will sweat and curse and probably cry, then forget the garlands over the living room windows, where they will live all year round. Because ADHD and apathy is a deadly combination.

But we’ll be glad, in the end, that we did Christmas. Because all these decorations mean something beyond themselves. They mean a special lead-up to a special day. They build anticipation for something more than just presents and dinner: all this Christmas excess gets us into the holiday spirit. We can’t help but smile. There may not be a lot of presents under the tree. But that tree is so weighed down with decorations that none of us can tell the difference.

[Slideshow: Stocking Stuffers for Adults with ADHD]

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  1. I used to feel totally overwhelmed by the holidays…Especially Christmas. All that fuss, decorating the tree, knowing it was only going to have to come down in a few weeks and be stuffed back in the box. (Yes I had a real one once…ugh.) But it was worth it to see that look of wonder on my son’s face on Christmas morning when Santa had come and left all those presents under the tree. I have to admit I was relieved when he made the connection that Santa brought the same stuff that Mommy’s had bought in the stores over the previous months. Yes I had to bring him with me, if I’d paid a babysitter I wouldn’t have been able to afford the toys. He bought my excuse that Mommy was Santa’s helper and that he came and got the toys and brought them back at Christmas but that didn’t last long. So, once my little one didn’t think Christmas was magic anymore, I have to admit…I breathed a big sigh of relief and stuffed that infernal tree back into its box and it hasn’t seen the light of day since then.

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