It’s that time of the year again. Bigger-than-life Christmas trees have appeared in shopping malls. Red Santa suits are revived and brought out of storage. Songs of red-nosed Rudolph and his clan can be heard on the radio. Little ones are (finally… maybe a bit too late…) trying to be on their best behavior to ensure a parcel-delivery by Santa and his helpers on Christmas Eve.
In a week’s time it will be Christmas!
The holidays are often portrayed as a time for big family get-togethers. Preparations for Christmas-lunch feasts start weeks in advance. Table decorations are bright, busy and full of colour. Serviettes with mistletoe and candles appear on shopping shelves and wrapping paper covered in golden bright glittery stars are at the order of the day.
At this time of the year the world around us becomes brighter, louder and busier.
If you observe and listen closely, during the weeks before Christmas a subtle divide emerges between those individuals overcome with excitement for the upcoming festivities… and those dreading it.
We are not all the same (thank goodness!!) and we most definitely do not all enjoy the same things.
When trying to make sense of these differences in perception and preferences, we need to consider sensory processing and how individual sensory thresholds play the biggest role in determining how you react to the environment.
For an individual with HIGH sensory thresholds, the world needs to be filled with a variety of sensory input. Their sensory Christmas wish list might include:
- A Christmas get-together with extended family for a week (at least)
- All members of the family staying in one house
- Christmas music playing on the radio throughout the day
- Colourful decorations on an oversized Christmas tree with colourful flashing Christmas lights
- Scented candles being lit every night
- Family game nights with activities e.g. charades, Pictionary or 30 Seconds
- The youngsters performing a well-orchestrated Christmas concert
- Singing carols (accompanied by instruments if available)
- A festive Christmas lunch with an abundance of cold meats, salads and wine around a big Christmas table
…and then starts the planning for New Year’s Eve!
On the other side of the continuum are individuals with LOW sensory thresholds. For them, less is more. They might prefer:
- A Christmas get-away for close family only
- If they need to spend the holidays with extended family, they’ll opt for private accommodation
- Location preferably close to nature ensuring calming nature sounds e.g. the sound of the ocean, bird song, etc.
- More time spent in the open air – less time spent in shopping malls
- Ample time to unwind doing “quiet” activities e.g. reading a book, paddling, trail walks
- Minimalistic Christmas decorations with less colour
- Mono-coloured fairy lights on the Christmas tree
- Listening to Christmas carols softly playing on the radio in the background
- A peaceful, quiet Christmas lunch in a well-aired big open space with close friends/family
… and then hibernation by switching phones off until New Year’s Eve.
Let’s all attempt to be sensible this holiday by celebrating Christmas according to own needs – and allowing our loved ones to enjoy it according to theirs.
-Best wishes for a sensational holiday-