For many people with Aspergers, Christmas induces feelings of dread...
Social engagements, extended amounts of time trapped in the house with the family, small children screaming (in our house anyway!), mess (in our house anyway), noise, lights, a loss of normal routine...my Aspergers husband was even subjected to sitting through an all-singing, all-dancing, shouting, flashing, dough-throwing pantomime whilst selected children (ours and my sister's) at various times throughout the evening, wriggled on his knee, trod on his toes, argued, shouted "I believe in fairies" in his ear and clung onto him with sticky ice-cream fingers. He did us all proud: only closing his eyes for extended periods twice (that I saw) and bravely putting on a smile each time I caught his eye!
For partners, it can be a time of heightened stress, will or won't your Aspergers spouse play ball? How many family events can they take before they lose it/say something rude/get their iphone out during conversation? Would it be better to just leave them at home? Or will that in itself seem rude/miserable? Will they remember to act pleased with their present from your parents even if they wonder why on earth they would buy him such a thing?!
Personally, some of our biggest blow-outs have been over Christmas, usually involving his engagement, or lack of it, at social events and/or his irritability with the kids' high-volume over-excitement on Christmas Day. But things have definitely got better. A huge contributor to this is Ethan himself. I know that Aspergers is Aspergers and that his brain won't suddenly rewire itself into a jolly, optimistic, chatty, tolerant, happy-go-lucky geezer just because it's Christmas...but, for us at least (albeit with a lot of effort and the promise that days of high sociability will be punctuated with escape time on his computer) Christmas can be a 'success' with Aspergers, it just takes a bit of adjusting - both of expectations and in practical terms - on both sides.
I don't force Ethan to come to every friend and neighbours' gathering anymore. I don't get stressed or disappointed if he's not very 'chatty' at family parties, I accept that, sometimes, while I watch a Christmas film with the kids, he might need some time recharging without us, and I try not to take to heart his odd small explosion over a spilled drink or bit of mud on the carpet. He, in turn, does his best to be 'with us' in mind as well as body when we are together and to accept that he is going to be with us a lot more than normal - for a time - and that the house is going to be messy and that life will be loud. But that it will pass. This acceptance from us both, along with the QI book of 1,411 facts that I got him for Christmas-escape time during extended sessions in the loo, has meant this Christmas has been not just survivable - but pretty good.