Why Our Family is Skipping the Over-the-Top-Christmas This Year

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Our family is skipping the big and over-the-top Christmas this year.

Our daughter has complex trauma, and her most triggered time of the year is around the holidays. You see, she was removed from her biological home on Christmas Eve, and as much as she loves all things Christmas, her brain can’t handle it. Since she moved in with us, we have done two huge family Christmases every year and they both end the same way, overstimulated with tantrums and the holiday season ruined. We have tried all sorts of things to help her cope; breaks, coping skills, or even leaving early. Our daughter makes tremendous progress on her healing throughout the year but then takes huge steps backward during the holiday season.

So, we have decided to skip the over-the-top Christmas. How are we skipping the big over the top Christmas this year?

Make sure our daughter is on the same page. We sat our daughter down and talked to her about the holiday season and how she has handled it in the past. We asked her if she would like to go on a trip instead of having a big Christmas with the family. She is so excited! I also asked her if it was okay for me not to decorate the house this year. We have noticed that even decorations can trigger her. She’s agreed and has even said there is no need because we won’t be here.

Get out of town. We decided that Broken Bow was not too far away and had some beautiful cabins to rent. We made sure to include our daughter in the process. This got her even more excited about our upcoming trip. We found the perfect one, that is also pet-friendly!  We plan to play games, read, eat s’mores, and relax. Come Christmas morning there will be a few gifts for our daughter, but it will not be over the top.

Communicate with our family. This was probably the hardest thing for us to have to do. It was harder to tell some family members more than others. I knew some of them would be angry, but we just kept in mind that we were doing what we thought was best for our girl.

She has made more progress this year towards healing than any other year and we don’t want her to lose any of that progress. October through December is a rough time for our girl. Any holiday or extra fun can set her off and it’s so hard to bring her back. Just last week at school they were putting up Christmas trees and that triggered her into some past actions and tantrums. We just want to work through her Christmas trigger and just have one good Christmas with her that will hopefully prepare her for future Christmases with her family.

We are looking forward to a simple, small, and healing Christmas for our family!

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Carissa South
Carissa is a loving wife, mother, and educator holding a masters of reading from the University of Central Oklahoma. She loves helping around their farm by taking care of the goats, chickens, and dogs. Her newly-adopted daughter brings lots of new challenges to her life as she is learning to balance work, family, and parenting.


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