1212 Brady Family Holiday Healing
The Brady family has set a new holiday tradition – to wake up each Christmas in a different city.
For the Brady family – John, Debbie, Christopher, Matthew, Jacob and Caleb – Christmas is a time spent traveling and healing.
Hoover residents by way of Philadelphia, the Brady family moved to Hoover in December 2005 with their four boys. Christopher, 14, is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Jacob, 13, is a high-functioning autistic child. Matthew, 11, was adopted by Debbie and John when he was six and suffers from reactive attachment disorder.
“From the start, Christmas and birthdays were very hard for him,” said Debbie. “Christmas seems to be the hardest. We noticed he would often get sad and act out because he would miss his biological family. His condition is common in children who bounce around during their formative years and are unable to form those bonds.”
When Debbie and John noticed a much more contented Matthew during the family’s biennial road trip back to Pennsylvania at Thanksgiving, it gave birth to an idea that would shape their future Christmases for years to come.
“There just seems to be something about being ‘on the go’ that is less emotionally scary for Matthew,” said Debbie. “We just started noticing a pattern, a positive change, and have decided to keep it going.”
So the family began tacking on extended trips during the Thanksgiving pilgrimage north, in addition to scheduling more elaborate family vacations.
For New Year’s 2010, they celebrated in Chicago. And last year, they took a big road trip out West, with stops at the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Matthew responded so well that the family has since decided to take a larger family trip each Christmas. This year, the Pennsylvania trip will culminate in a New Year’s Eve bash spent in New York City. Next year they will go skiing out West.
“I have a cousin who lives in Lake Tahoe and has offered for us to stay with him,” said Debbie. “We are blessed to have family and friends all over the place and are able to visit them sometimes so it is more affordable. All the boys love it!”
“His healing from the hurt and neglect he endure will be a long, difficult and slow process. It can affect all of the boys and at times has been very difficult for them to understand why he does some of the things he does.
“The vacations simple remove all of them from the often stressful reality that can be at home and for those two weeks, everyone is relaxed and laughing.”