So I Guess This Is Christmas?

As I sit to write this, it is the afternoon of December 24, 2021. We’ve received Christmas cards and letters from friends, but in typical Brannan fashion, we’ve not written any letters or printed any photo cards to send. And this is the rhythm of our lives.

Before we go too far, here’s a picture from January 2021. It is perhaps the only family selfie in which all of our faces are visible, and everyone has something resembling a smile. I think it is my favorite picture of the entire year, taken at West Beach on Whidbey Island (Oak Harbor, Washington, at Joseph Whidbey State Park).

After Amy took it (and I saw it) I said something like: “Well, there’s our Christmas card photo. We don’t have to worry about getting one for the rest of the year, because that’ll never happen again.”

And while you think I may have been joking, I really wasn’t. Yes, I did intend some humor, but I was also totally forthright. The chances of us getting another picture with all of us in the frame and with some semblance of a smile were pretty slim. I mean, we even had some professional pics done in the fall, and didn’t get near this level of goodness (no slight to the photographer, it was a tough assignment and she did get some excellent shots!)

See, you might not know it from looking at us (especially that sweet picture up there where everything looks super normal and happy) but there’s a lot going on in our little family. We have several diagnoses that impact daily life (ADHD and Autism among others) as well as family members who experience chronic pain and discomfort for a number of reasons. It all ends up meaning that our lives are lived pretty much with very consistent, patterned days with lots of regularity and no surprises. When something disrupts that schedule (read: Daylight Savings Time, Christmas break, late wake-up, miss normal screen time, etc.) then disregulation reigns in our house and the attitudes and volumes are raised well past eleven.

If we’re lucky, that’s it. But sometimes (frequently?) it snowballs into an avalanche of disregularion and everyone is loud and frustrated with everyone else. It all compounds to bringing us (me and Amy) to a point at the end of the day when kids are in bed and the house is quiet, and we revel in the quietness. It is the most important thing. It is the most refreshing thing. And we let pretty much nothing interrupt it. It is the time where Amy and I can actually talk without being interrupted by anything. It is the time where I am able to focus and read, write, and research.

Amy and I don’t spend that time writing Christmas letters or sending Christmas cards. Maybe we should. But we’ve learned to set that time apart to do what refreshes us, because we know we will need the energy the next day because the circus of disregulation will start all over again.

What am I saying and why am I writing this? I really appreciate seeing folks’ Christmas cards, photos, and letters. I feel super guilty for not responding and sharing the fun things that happened and sweet family photos. But know that every day is pretty much the same for us, if we break the consistency we pay for it.

We wish you all a super duper Merry Christmas and an exceedingly Happy New Year!

(One of the awesome professional photos from the fall)