ADHD: A Holiday Recipe for Disaster?

By Duane Gordon

I love the holidays. People are more cheerful, children are well behaved and the holiday baking, or eating! But that’s not it. The holidays offer a “perfect storm” of opportunities to go overboard!

Put someone with ADHD in charge of a creative project and the results will be, well… MORE than you planned! As a typical adult with ADHD, I am unjustifiably confident I can do anything. I have an extremely creative imagination and will inevitably take on next-to-impossible projects, blow them out of proportion and surprise, delight or dismay friends and family.

Having ADHD is like being a super hero; you can use your power for good or evil. I have the best of intentions, but things happen. Like when my oldest daughter, Jennifer, was in her first grade school play. I was as proud as a peacock that MY daughter was going to be the ENGINE in the toy train. I felt sorry for the caboose!

Wanting to help, I offered to make the costume. The gleam in my eye predicted this would end badly. By the time I was finished, the huge, gleaming silver “engine,” concocted of cardboard, tinfoil, duct tape and other odds and ends had a working headlight and smokestack. It was a sight to behold! Unfortunately, once we got Jennifer inside, she couldn’t lift it off the floor! I won’t go into how I tried to put wheels on it before I gave up and stripped it down to… sob!… a painted cardboard box, just like the other kids had.

As the children got older, I looked for other ways to be helpful around the holidays. My wife, Linda, a wonderful cook, makes a lovely turkey dinner for Christmas. I suggested I could make the Christmas morning breakfast. She enthusiastically agreed, picturing fresh coffee and juice, perhaps a bagel or some toast. She volunteered to watch the children while I was busy in the kitchen.

That first morning, she worried as time passed, and was shocked when I finally called them to eat. The children were delighted to find fresh muffins, pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns and croissants as well, of course, as the bagels, coffee and juice Linda had anticipated. Since she had exactly what she wanted, I didn’t understand why she was upset until later. We were the only family in our neighborhood that ate our turkey dinner on Boxing Day. After that breakfast, we were as stuffed as the turkey!

My youngest daughter, Kyrie, also has ADHD. She has been my partner in crime decorating the outside of the house since she was old enough to help. We refuse to decorate the tree… it’s far too limiting, but the house! When we turn the lights on, planes divert from the airport just to see. We have the brightest house in the neighborhood from December until Easter! After all, how creative is taking the lights down?

Why does Linda put up with it? Counting me, she says she has three kids, not two! But there are payoffs too. Linda knows she’ll never get a typical gift, and she has yet to predict, or even suspect, one of her many surprises. She’s been whisked away for romantic weekends, had bouquet after bouquet of flowers delivered to her office… many on the same day, and surprise parties too numerous to mention.

ADHD really is like having super powers, and when things go right, amazing things happen. As Linda says, “Yes, he likes to go overboard… but remember, that means he goes overboard when he’s thinking of me too!”

Duane Gordon is an artist and adult ADHD advocate. His art celebrates the urban landscape. Each city is a collective artwork created by its inhabitants, and Duane paints to claim his place in this collective creation.  He is an explorer, and the urban skyline is his pristine wilderness.  Visit his online gallery at



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      • Maggie
      • September 28, 2016

      Bless you Duane…
      I see me in your story…
      Except no children to help me!

      Thanks for sharing…

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