Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday and time of year. As a kid I would write Santa a letter and look forward to sitting on his lap at the mall. I would make sure that he knew how good I was, and wait for the assurance that I wouldn’t be receiving coal in my stocking.
Usually by the first or second week of December we would have our Christmas tree up and decorations on the outside. Christmas was in our home and the excitement was evident in the air.
Every year my mom got new pajamas for all of us to wear on Christmas eve. I have fond memories of going to bed in these new pajamas in the room my brother and I shared, taking turns staying awake throughout the night in hopes of catching Santa when he came. Never once did we succeed.
Fast forward to year 12 of my life. I had contracted Bacterial Meningitis and lost all of my eye sight and much of my hearing. It was 1998 and my reality had dramatically changed. I was totally blind, hearing impaired, and unable to move around on my own. How was this scared little boy going to enjoy Christmas. Would it even be exciting anymore? Laying helplessly in bed trying to imagine Christmas without eye sight, without all of my hearing, I didn’t even want to think about it.
Then a couple weeks before the big day, before Santa and his team hit the sky’s, I was asked a question that I have not thought about for many years. I don’t remember the details, but a younger child asked, “how does a blind person enjoy Christmas? You can’t even see the lights or the gifts can you”? At this time, I had only been sight impaired for a few months, but it got me thinking and “seeing” Christmas with new eyes. No longer eyes that could “see” like you would think, but an eye sight that transcended the physical.
I started to experience the true beauty of this incredible holiday in different ways. The enjoyment of new sounds, beautiful sensations, and over the top delicious aromas and flavors became only a few of the ways Christmas time is so amazing to me. With all the sparkling lights, shiny bows, gift wrap and exquisite Christmas trees, it’s hard not to be in awe of it all. Even if I couldn’t visually see any of these wonders, it didn’t mean I couldn’t experience, appreciate, and enjoy them.
Do you hear what I hear? Close your eyes and imagine for a moment nothing but the distant ring of winter bells. Maybe in a song, at church, or in the streets. I hear Angels, I hear wonder, and I hear love.
Truly listen when you hear a choir or when children sing. I hear real happiness, true joy.
How about when a gift is given? A gift of a smile, a hug, something desired from Santa or a hot plate of food. I hear gratitude, I can taste laughter, and feel the power of love.
Do you see what I see? Other than a little light perception, I don’t experience any physical vision. It doesn’t mean that I don’t “see”. I can see in my mind’s eye friends, family, and a community coming together to celebrate the holidays and each other, to share memories and make new ones, to give and to love and to just “be” together.”
Most of all, what I “see” at Christmas is the most important thing of all, love. It’s kind, generous and forgiving. It’s honest and compassionate. It knows no limits and does not fear. You can see it mostly with your heart.
So, you ask, how does a blind person enjoy Christmas? I actually hear, taste, feel, and even see a lot during this special time of year. It’s magical!
My friends, if you can see and allow the love and the joy to carry you through your holidays this year and every year, only the best is yet to come.