Every year around this time, I begin to worry. I worry that we won’t have the money or capabilities to afford gifts for our children. I worry about that a lot. My husband tells me over and over that gifts are not what Christmas is about. He’s right. Yet still I worry. I’m sure even to the point of selfishness. And every year, God proves to me that He is in charge. We’ve never had a Christmas where we walked away in want. For that I am truly grateful.
In fact, it amazes me (understatement) how many blessings are bestowed upon our family at this time of year. This year is no different. Friends, family, and anonymous donors flabbergast us as the days roll by. Cookies, candy, gift cards, even money, are placed in our hands with only “A Friend” or “Use this wherever you are in need” scribbled on a note or card.
At this time, we aren’t able to do a lot for others, but I certainly try through cards and food and any gifts I’m able to purchase. I want to give back.
Now, you would think that, with all the good coming our way, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of complaining to do. But if you do think that, you don’t know me very well. Sad to say, but I’m a whiner, and what I’m usually whining about is inequality of communication access for poor, little, old, Deaf me.
Why can’t I go see the movie I want to see? Why do I always have to settle for what they’ll give me?
Why can’t I join the group of Christmas carolers and sing my heart out?
Why doesn’t Santa Claus at the mall offer an interpreter so I can sit on his lap and tell him my inner-most thoughts? OK. That one hasn’t actually happened, but I wouldn’t put it past me.
Case in point…I hate being left out. I hate that I have to ask for assistance. I hate that I can’t enjoy things in the same, full way that many can. I hate, I hate, I hate.
Well, Bah! Humbug!
So, anyway, I’m cleaning up the kitchen yesterday afternoon and my 11-yeear-old daughter charges in. “Santa Claus is at the door.”
“Huh? What does that mean?”
“It means that Santa Claus is at the door. He just tapped on the glass and shouted, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’”
Immediately I’m thinking child predator in a Santa Claus suit. OK. Not really. I walk into the living room and, sure enough, there’s Kris Kringle at the door, waving at me through the glass.
Now, we have people come to the house pretty often. Aside from a pair of Jehovah Witnesses, there’s never ever been a signer. So, I’ve simply come to expect that anyone who comes to the door—especially ones who are shouting with laughter through the glass—are obviously hearing individuals.
I smile and open the glass door. “Hi! What can I do for you, sir?” I state. No hand motions in sight.
Santa starts to speak. Afraid that he’s going to get chatty, I immediately point at my ear, shake my head and let him know I’m deaf. He looks scared. So, turning away, facing in the complete opposite direction of his eyes, I offer my son up to interpret for him. Santa doesn’t say anything. In fact, if I’m right, he looks pretty darn confused.
He gently hands me a card. I ask who it’s from and my kids say he said, “A friend.”
“Wow! Well, Merry Christmas!” I shout and he leaves us all standing at the door, wondering what in the heck just happened.
It doesn’t really matter what happened next. Suffice it to say we were overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord with the gift that was inside that card. After a lot of talking about who we thought he might have been, we give up for the time being. An hour later, my teen girl runs into the room and signs, “He had a Deaf accent!! He had a Deaf accent!! I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, because I couldn’t understand some of the stuff he said, but that’s why!”
So, here we had a nice and caring man, donning a Santa Claus outfit, who was, by all speculation, deaf, come to the door and I didn’t sign a single thing to him. I put that poor man in the same predicament I was whining about just earlier that same day. A Deafie had created inequality of communication access with a fellow Deafie.
I feel awful. I really do. And, no, we don’t know for sure if that man was, indeed, deaf. But the fact is, why did I presume that the person would be hearing and prefer oral communication, even when it’s the opposite of what I want? I complain that people can’t sign, and those who say they can, usually mean they can show me the ABCs over the course of 15 minutes. This man, if he was deaf, came to our door, “knowing” and expecting that he’d be able to chat. Maybe. Guess that just goes to show that it can work both ways.
I’ve learned my lesson though. I won’t assume people are hearing anymore. Besides, we all know what happens when you “assume.” You make an “ass” out of U and Me. Well, how’s that for Merry Christmas?
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