My name is Jack, and I am very, very excited for Christmas this year.
Many times a day I ask my mother how many more days until Christmas even though I already know the answer. I like to hear it over and over again and picture the number in my head.
Last year we had a big Christmas party and before people came over I asked my mother what time is the party over and she answered around 3:00. As soon as I saw the blue numbers on our oven change to 3-0-0, I ran and opened the door and shouted the party is over everyone has to leave now. People laughed but I don’t know why. I wasn’t making what’s called a joke.
Our decorations are very important to me. It makes me so happy to run into the basement to get them out, but they need to go in the exact spot they went last year or I get upset. This year, my mother tried to put a snowflake pillow in a different place and I followed her all around saying move that pillow move that pillow until she finally said okay Jack relax I will move it and let a big whoosh of air out of her mouth.
My parents keep telling me you are magic and that’s why you can stop at so many houses and drop off so many presents in one night. I don’t understand this word. Things only make sense to me when I can touch or see or hear or taste them.
Last Christmas Eve I slept in my green sleeping bag on the floor of my room, all snug and tight and cozy, and I kept looking for you out my window with my eyes wide open. But after a while my mother laid down with me and I felt us breathing together and I couldn’t stop my eyes from closing. I missed you.
But this year, I’m not going to sleep until I see you fly across the sky in your big red sleigh and I hear your reindeer feet tap-tap-tapping on our roof. Because this year, I need to see you. I need to see what magic looks like.
I know most kids write you letters to ask for presents and to tell you if they’ve been bad or good this year. I’m not always sure what is good or bad. I only know the things I can or can’t do.
Like the time I was with my mother in the grocery store and I was jumping up and down in the aisle trying to get my zoomies out. A man in a green jacket said to my mother what’s wrong with him and she looked at me and back at him and for a minute it felt like we were all standing inside a giant bubble waiting to pop. I heard her answer him quietly he has autism. I didn’t know if this means I’m bad but I tried to keep my arms and legs very very still after that.
I know it’s bad when I shout out mean words and say shut up when it gets too loud. I know I shouldn’t ask people why they are fat and if their mother is dead yet and tell them their purple plaid skirt is ugly.
But deep down inside, I don’t want to be a bad boy. I want so very much to be good. I think maybe you should consider telling kids to think about the things they can or can’t do rather than think about being good or bad.
Because if you can do something, like use your manners and say please and thank you, then you should. And if you can’t do something, like keep your zoomies inside or stop telling the bus driver he’s making a bad driving decision or eat yogurt, then the best you can do it try.
I hope you can see how hard I try every day.
Every day I try to do my homework without screaming I hate this goddamn math and I try eat to a bite of mashed potatoes at dinner without shouting this tastes like dirt. At school I try not to pester Isabella, the girl I love and want to marry.
Some days are better than others. Some days I hit my red zone and I scream and yell things like I’m going to ruin everyone’s Christmas even though I mean my class got to do something fun while I had to go to speech therapy. Some days I reach out very quickly and run my fingers through the ends of Isabella’s long soft hair until the teacher says keep your hands to yourself Jack.
Some days my autism takes over my intentions.
This year, Christmas is on a Tuesday. When I close my eyes and think of Tuesday, I see bright yellow like the sparkly star on top of our tree.
I asked my mother for an IPhone for Christmas and she laughed and said nice try mister. I’m still not sure if that means yes or no, so I figured I’d ask you for it too. I would also like a book about license plates and a globe and a map. And a new radio.
One night we were talking about presents and my father explained that presents don’t have to be shiny wrapped boxes under the tree. They can be things you wish for, things you don’t hold in your hand or see with your eyes but that you enjoy and are happy someone gave you. I thought I’d tell you a few of my wishes this year.
I wish I didn’t have to go to speech therapy anymore. I want to know how to speak Tanzanian and Russian and say hello how are you in Farsi. I hope for no more fire drills and that I wasn’t so scared of dogs. I wish I could drive across the United States of America and visit places like Nebraska and Colorado and North Dakota. I wish the tiny ants on my body would go away so I could keep my arms and legs still.
I wish people could understand why I zoom around a store and why I do not want to pet their dog Snuggles and why I need to know what kind of car they drive. But most of all, I wish I understood the world around me better. I wish my mother’s different faces made sense to me and why some days speech is more important than word recognition. Because if I did, then I would understand what is good and what is bad.
And if you can make even one of my wishes come true, then just maybe I will understand magic.
P.S. Does your sleigh have a license plate?