As I’ve mentioned previously, the holidays can be depressing for many of us on the spectrum. The holidays can be depressing for anyone, really. I’ve had my share of being too depressed to enjoy Christmas. I think that one reason so many people feel depressed around the holidays is because they are alone. Another reason is that many people are in bad financial situations and can’t afford to celebrate Christmas the way they wish they could.
It’s especially sad when you can’t afford to get your kids something for Christmas. I’m not a parent myself, but I grew up with a mom who worked hard and yet could barely pay the rent. Even though December has just started, I’ve already been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook this year from parents who can’t afford to buy their kids presents. It’s hard when your kid believes in Santa and yet you can’t afford to buy the kids what they asked Santa for. Some people can barely afford anything, let alone a toy for their kids.
While there are some charities that pass out Christmas presents to underprivileged kids, I have yet to run across one that also provides gifts to older children. I recently came across a mom of two autistic daughters who could not afford to buy her adult children anything for Christmas. I’m sure there are many others in this same situation. I wish I had the energy to set up some kind of page so that families who can’t afford gifts for their kids could post Amazon wishlists or something like that, and then the people who could afford to buy gifts for these kids could do so anonymously. Unfortunately, I’m not sure of a way to do this in a way that people could be sure that no one is taking advantage of the honor system. If anyone has any ideas or a way to implement something like this, that would be awesome.
In the meantime, there is a new group on Facebook started by the big sister of an autistic boy. The group is for people who are looking for a specific gift that someone else might have laying around at home. People can also offer old toys for free, or in exchange for the other person paying shipping. The name of the Facebook group is Special Wants. If you can’t afford to buy your autistic child a gift this year, this could be a good place to look. (I have no affiliation with the people who run this group, but they seem like good people.)
I also wanted to provide some ideas for people who can’t afford to spend much (or anything) on gifts this Christmas. While I’m ok financially right now, I spent many years not being able to afford gifts. So I’ve gotten creative.
One idea is to establish early on with immediate family that each family member will make their own gifts for each other. This could be a craft, a drawing, a meal, or anything that you know how to make.
Another idea is to do an exchange of good deeds. I got this idea from a movie but can’t remember the title. Basically everyone draws the name of one family member randomly and does good deeds for this person. It’s like a Secret Santa except with doing nice things. You could make the person’s bed or do their chores, etc.
One of my favorite things growing up was to make a coupon book. Each of my family members would make one for each other. Inside would be different coupons that would apply to that family member. For example, my mom would give me coupons for a night off from doing a specific chore, or for reading an extra book to me that night, or for letting me stay up an hour past bedtime. You could give your spouse a coupon for an evening out, or whatever they might like. This would obviously only work with children who are developed enough to understand the concept, but it is a fun idea for those who would enjoy it.
For friends, I have often given the gift of my time or services. I have given friends the gift of babysitting their kids for free, and in exchange they have given me the gift of driving me to appointments etc.
If you have some more ideas, please post them in the comments.