’tis the Season

Welcome to the hustle and bustle that is the last five weeks of the year. Retailers redecorate and advertise their hearts out to make their last 20% of annual profits. Children make out lists, now rummaging through online catalogs rather than paper ones (remember the Christmas edition of Sears & Roebuck?). Homes and offices get a fresh layer of evergreens, holly berries, snowflakes, and a generally polite competition between reindeer and camels. (Thanks to Kelsey, our resident elf, for decorations a’plenty.)  Advent candles, cookies, and preparations for Christmas pageants round out the list.

If you’re a deaf person in a hearing household, especially a child, the season can be more frustrating than festive. From the family gathering around the Thanksgiving table to the variety of parties at church, school, and aunt Lollie’s house, to the New Year’s countdown, the sense of being outside the action can get overwhelming. Conversations happen all around, punctuated with laughter and loaded with memories. In the Christmas pageant, you get relegated to the role of sheep or donkey, not because you’re brilliant at portraying barn animals, but because it’s an easy decision.

Ok, time to turn this around – both in the article, and in the holidays of deaf children. Here are a few ideas to actively include deaf children (of all ages) in the family fun this year. The more visual, the better…

The key is to make choices that invite deaf loved ones to be more involved without giving them an uncomfortable level of focus. As hearing people, we often don’t think about how much we rely on our ears any more than a fish thinks about his dependence on water. Many deaf people, like fish on shore, don’t escape this reality, and it becomes burdensome during the holidays when they’re alone among the people who love them most.

P.S. – let’s not forget that aunt Lollie doesn’t hear as well as she used to. Though she may not admit it, she’ll appreciate being able to share in all the visual fun.


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