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How I Manage the Christmas Season With a Disability


Christmastime: the most wonderful time of the year, mistletoe and wine, the mad rush of love and heartbreak. So many things to consider.

What I want is always hard to put into words. I definitely think Christmas activities are not very disability friendly, at least not for me. So with that in mind, here’s my plan of attack, for three main things at least.

Christmas Shopping

I need to buy something for everyone in the family, and maybe friends or the odd Secret Santa. The chaos that ensues is pretty formidable and I dread the thought of going late in December. Just. No. I get my ideas together, I think it over and maybe you guessed it, go as early as possible. Maybe even November or October.

I need to figure out hiding the presents separately, but I’ll be done and relaxing with my hot chocolate or beer, no bother. If I’m running very late like this year, I’ll just do it online. Thank you to the internet and all those wonderful store websites. Maybe I’ll even get a little gift for myself. Treat yourself, right?

The Christmas Market

I very much require that huge bratwurst hot dog or some currywurst and the strawberry beer from the main tent, should the timing of my visit allow it. But getting around? God help anyone easily knocked off balance or generally struggling physically. My mission? Go during the day and preferably around mid-afternoon (not midday). There are still people, still a festive and light-hearted atmosphere, but there’s enough room to breathe and maneuver safely. I remember one time I got spun around by someone walking past, and legitimately was so thrown that I had no idea where I was for a moment. Good thing I learned a long time ago to pick out things to focus on.

I’ve found going with someone can also be great and adds to the good feeling. Date, family, friend; it’s all good. Make it fun!

Family Mayhem

If things get a little hectic for you like they do in my house, I understand and give you a virtual hug or whatever normally cheers you up. It’s chaos with the place turning more and more into some sort of Santa’s Grotto. No tinsel though, which saddens me more than I’d have thought. Anyway, the lead-up is the start of what I term “House Spotless or Else” just as with Easter and other holidays. I’m roped in to do quite a lot and I always have been. As friends often say, I’m a regular Cinderella.

I enjoy cleaning, surprisingly. I really do. Except at these times. For one, it’s cold AF and I’m normally stiff, sore and generally in need of a good massage because of the weather. For another, I find the level of housework exhausting. I’m not entirely certain it’s all worth it — even if the Queen or Pope or someone comes. But it’s Christmas, and maybe we will be eating off of a bedroom door in addition to the table?

Take time for you too, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if something gets too much. It’s an important time, but you are also important.

Holidays can bring mixed feelings — good, bad and most definitely ugly when it comes to arguments. You may see things or have things said to you in anger, and something might need to be done that you loathe doing with all of your heart, but once everything is done, your loved ones are seated and the food is ready and on the table, it’s worth it.

At least, so I’m told.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who celebrate (or don’t). Enjoy your day, everyone.

Getty image by Robert BreitPaul.