This year I have spent more time with deaf friends than ever in my whole life. It’s been a great self esteem booster and confidence booster for me. I have learned that I’m not the only one who feels a certain way in certain situations.
Holidays are coming up. I love the holidays. I love spending time with friends and visiting family. However, it can be very stressful at times. I could type up page after page after page about what it’s like to be deaf and celebrate holidays with hearing family members. Not all of it is negative…in fact some of it is positive.
I have several wonderful extended family members who have taken the time to learn some basic sign language skills. I have great parents who go the extra mile to make sure I’m included. I am forever thankful for this. However, I always feel a bit guilty and a bit of a burden when they go out of their way. I want my family members and parents to enjoy their time without feeling like they have to constantly try to include me. It’s also always difficult to be included 100% of the time when things are SO chaotic. Once again, I am one of the few lucky deaf people out there who have wonderful family members who take the extra time to try and communicate with me. I have never and will never take this for granted.
I always thought I was the only one who sometimes found the holidays difficult in terms of communication. That is until a few years when I started reading blog posts about how other deaf people felt the same way around this time of the year. Regardless of how well the person can hear with hearing aids/CIs and regardless of how oral that person is…this topic constantly comes up.
It has been one of my dreams to celebrate a holiday where I didn’t feel like I was always on edge trying to figure out what was going on. Where I could easily help out in the kitchen without being unsure as to if I understood the instructions correctly. Where I could just jump into any conversation I wanted. No one would have to work hard to make sure I felt included.
At the beginning of October I was hanging out with some friends and a couple of them were talking about having a Halloween party. I then mentioned we should try to get together for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner thinking that we would talk about it but it wouldn’t happen.
Ever since that day people would ask me if we were going to get together for Thanksgiving or not. Apparently every one really wanted to have the same experience I wanted too…a holiday with no communication barriers.
It took us a while to plan it since we had to figure out where to have it. We needed a place big enough for 15-20 people. Dennis was kind enough to offer his house and he actually took on the frightening task of cooking turkey and ham (which btw he did a great job with…this was his first time too!).
I went over to his place about 1:30 pm to try and help out in anyway I possibly could. People started showing up about 4pm and the last left about 11pm. 🙂 Everyone left with a smile on their faces.
I think everyone was amazed at what it was like to have a holiday dinner and to be 100% fully included. Everyone was so relaxed…I think a lot of us are used to feeling a bit on edge and a bit stressed in terms of being sure we understood what was said (so much of lipreading is guesswork and luck).
It was awesome……an awesome experience for sure. Thanks everyone for making this happen! A couple of people were already talking about next year’s Thanksgiving 😉
We had TONS of food and I’m one stuffed gal. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner #2 with my dad’s side of family on Thanksgiving Day. I have great memories of Thanksgivings with them and I shared some of those memories with friends at our Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂
Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving week!