Dreaming of a Blind Christmas – By Kelsi Hansen
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. Actually it’s a tossup between Christmas and Halloween, but that’s beside the point. It is the holiday season for those of us who celebrate December holidays, and it is one of the busiest times of the year.
There is tons of shopping to be done; wrapping; Christmas activities; and decorating. And I love every minute of it!
So, how and whywould a blind person decorate for the holidays you might ask? I asked myself those same questions when I first went blind. Why would I decorate for Christmas if I couldn’t see how festive it looked? If I can’t see it, what’s the point? Moreover, how would I decorate so that it looked good visually? How would I make sure the ornaments were spaced evenly, and not clustered on the tree? How would I make sure Santa was not hanging lopsided on the wall? There were so many questions I had about how as a blind person I was going to celebrate Christmas. I mean, how was I even going to wrap presents, something that I used to love to do. Sure I could wrap the paper around the gift, but how was I to cut the wrapping paper in the first place?
So, I had a lot of questions, and for a while, I didn’t help decorate, or wrap. When I first went blind, I thought the fun parts of my life were over. I was only twelve though, so I had a life time ahead of me. Well … it was going to be a long and dismal life if I kept that attitude wasn’t it? Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, so let’s talk about how to overcome some of these seeming setbacks.
One of the very first things I learned about Christmas as a blind individual was how to cut the wrapping paper. This was actually a crucial step for me in adapting to being blind. I mentioned how much I loved wrapping before, so if I could figure that out, what else could I still do? Anyways, I realized that if you fold the wrapping paper where you want to cut it, you can just follow the fold. Scissors sit amazingly between the two sides of the folded paper. It was an easy fix, so what else would I still be able to do if I just used simple adaptations like that?
I could do a lot, and I do even more every year. Last year, I took the tree down by myself and tied the branches together from each row so I wouldn’t have to sort them out this year. I string the lights and garland on the tree by myself, which I really don’t think is any different than the way someone with sight would do it. And the ornaments … well, I just kind of randomly put them on the tree. One top, one left, one right, one up, one down and so on. Though, this year my son got to help me. Up until now, the ornaments could only be at the top of the tree. Now the good ones are at the top, and the ones my son and cat (yes I said my cat) can play with are at the bottom.
As far as hanging things like Santas, Rudolphs, snowmen, and all the other decorations, my favorite thing to use is push pins. Push pins are the best! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. You can put them in the wall, and if you don’t like how it’s hanging or the location, it’s super easy to fix. Just take the pins out and try again. Eventually Santa hangs straight. My walls are gray now though, so apparently it is leaving marks, and the white underneath is visible. It’s not a huge deal though. I just leave them up all year now, which makes decorating extra easy.
One thing I’ve never really done though is to hang lights up on the house. Mostly because I’ve never really been settled in one spot long enough to invest in lights. However, last year I did hang some of the net lights in a tree which was super easy. And they ended up in the shape of a heart, which was an unexpected bonus. Plus, I got to climb a tree, which is always fun!
Anyways, back to my other more important question: Why would I decorate for the holidays? This is something that I needed to figure out for myself before I could even think about decorating. Keeping in mind that I was newly blind, my mind set was that of: I can’t see the decorations like I used to. Was there a point in even trying to be festive?
Yes, turns out that there was. Along with adding holiday cheer, it provided a sense of normalcy to my life. Just because I couldn’t see the tree, or the lights, or the silver bells, doesn’t mean that they weren’t there. I still knew that they were there, could still visualize my environment and enjoy it. It was the smallest step forward to helping my life go back to normal, maybe not the original normal, but a new normal. It was a baby step towards accepting and adapting to my new normal. It opened the door to possibilities that I believed were beyond me. My life wasn’t over because I couldn’t see, it was just different. I needed to start accepting that, and learning how to adapt to my new situation. And here I am today, still loving and enjoying all the festivities around Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
This is me! Hope you enjoyed the read. I love questions, so if you
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Thank you for listening!