When we think about the major holidays that occur this time of year, we often focus on the big day itself. We picture opening presents, plan who’s coming to visit, and consider our religious events or beliefs. So, when we prepare our children who are blind for the holidays, we can get stuck on “just” the day and not the planning that begins much sooner.
For example, when we were preparing our son Eddie for Thanksgiving this year, we only started the day before. As we thought about family arriving and the next day’s events, we knew we had to discuss it with him. However, we didn’t involve him in the pre-holiday tasks, so it seemed like just another loud family gathering with lots of food.
For Christmas, we started planning earlier. Eddie’s first clue that the season was upon us was holiday music. Our radio station switches exclusively to Christmas music, our TV plays holiday movies, and I start busting out my favorite holiday tunes on the piano. We put up a tree, and he has noticed the new glow in the living room with the little vision he has.
As the month progresses, we’re trying to include him more in shopping and wrapping presents. We have him visit Santa and assist with decorating the house. Our festive spirit can’t help but rub off on him, and he also begins to get excited about the holidays. He requests holiday stations on Pandora and the movie White Christmas becomes a family staple.
Beyond the typical fun stuff, we’ve even been including him in grocery shopping as we discuss what treats we might make and how he can help. He loves pushing the cart and it’s the perfect holder for his cane. Shopping is another crucial step in holiday preparation, and until he experiences it, he can’t fully appreciate it.
We hope that this year Christmas won’t come as a “surprise.” We don’t want December 25th to arrive and for Eddie to have it simply “happen” to him. We want him to find meaning in the day by including him in the holiday preparation. If he helps wrap presents, bake food, and make gifts…he’ll be even more involved on the actual day.
Our children are at risk of being passive participants in their lives. They can often “go with the flow” which makes it easy to forget that they need to be included as much as possible. My husband always reminds me that Eddie needs (and craves) meaningful involvement…and that is true all of the time…even at Christmas.