This time of year can be hard for me. Family isn’t what I wanted it to be. I can accept that they are the way they are, but that also means the current dynamic isn’t one I want to participate in. I phrased it, “I can accept you for who you are, but I won’t accept how you’d treat me.” I put too much effort in, and I shouldered too much of the blame for the shortcomings on the relationship. I’m not doing that anymore.

When it comes to the holidays, there’re a lot of bad memories. My mother ruined gift giving, because she’d surely let you know if you failed to give her the right gift. It was fraught, where there’d be some kind of emotional punishment if she didn’t feel like she got her due. I spoke with her about it, and there was always some reason (“Oh, I did that because I was mad at your father”) why her actions weren’t what they appeared to be. I don’t enjoy gift giving to this day (it makes me anxious as hell), because it ingrained in me that it would thrown back in my face that what I did wasn’t enough. Gift giving isn’t my love language, so I’m mostly blind when it comes the right thing to do.

Christmas though was also ruined for me. Yep, as an autistic person, I really shouldn’t have been taught to believe in Santa Claus (or the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.) For the most part, it doesn’t occur to me to lie. There are times when it’s best, when you might hurt someone with the blunt truth, but in general, most people lie for so little purpose that it can stun me. At that age, I hadn’t yet understood that my parents would also easily lie to me about some things.

I went right on believing until I was about ten. I was young, but I was on my way to junior high school and eventually adolescence. I strongly suspect my mom told me then because it’d be embarrassing to have the oversight reflected upon her–after all, what kind of mother would let her child blah blah blah. As I recall, she was angry at herself and made my distress about her and her mistake. There wasn’t a lot of helping me through it.

Magic died that day for me, but it was way more catastrophic than just one holiday. Every other belief foisted upon me crumbled as well. There’s no way for a parent to explain how some are different, and why some global lies are fakery but other widely espoused ones aren’t. While I view putting aside childish beliefs as part of growing up, I would have rather they not instilled them in me to knock down later. It destroyed trust, which maybe is another life lesson.