Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Thanks Giving

Christmas is approaching so fast. It snuck up on me - because of iffy postal service to Newfoundland, I like to get all the NL relatives' presents in the mail by the first week of December, and now it's here! I'm dizzy with trying to get gifts for everyone on that list, followed by the loved ones in other provinces. Then there are cards to friends and family here and overseas. Meanwhile I am trying to help out visiting Sis as much as I can as she looks for work and also taking as much time as possible to do touristy and fun stuff with her - the Farmer's Market, shopping, etc. And of course there's ASL class and work, with a Holiday party and pictures with Santa and a big exciting proposal which must be written between now and January.

I was finding it all a bit overwhelming, to be honest, feeling a bit like my head was going to explode, and then yesterday I sat down to catch up on one of mailing lists for deafened adults. Most on the list were Americans and had just come through "Yanksgiving" and were comparing notes and looking toward the holiday season.

The stories were intensely personal and in a lot of cases, moving and sad. In a number of cases, the stress of a partners' hearing loss had contributed to the breakdown of a marriage, and there were many divorced people in the conversation - some freshly-so. Others talked of how they had become isolated from family and friends since going deaf and didn't get invited to family gatherings anymore, nor did they want to attend them. One or two had stopped observing the holidays altogether. Many, many said that the people on the mailing list were the closest thing they had to a support group or family. They spoke, in varying degrees of wistfulness and scorn of "Norman Rockwell" Christmases and how those didn't exist for them anymore, if they ever did.

It occurred to me (again) how intensely lucky I am to have the support network I do. I realized that the shopping, decorating, parcel-mailing, card-addressing, Sis-visiting, class-attending and work I do which make me so crazy also make me intensely happy.

Don't get me wrong. I don't pity the people on my mailing list. They are incredibly strong, smart people who have overcome great odds and who are survivors in spite of what's been handed to them. The fact that they sought out a support group and share their stories of coping with being deaf in a hearing world is testament to their insistence that they are here and they will be heard. But I read their messages and sense their wistfulness and, for some, loneliness, and look around me at Husband and Sis and C. and others and know that there but for the grace of God...



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