December brings us Christmas music, holiday sales, decorations, and calendars filled with festivities. It’s a time of joy and celebration. But what if you’re dealing with sight loss for the first time this holiday season? You may feel like you’re just barely coping and yet you’re expected to cheerily participate in all the goings on. Here are some ways you can navigate sight loss during the holidays.
You’re Not a Grinch
If you don’t feel like celebrating the way you usually celebrate because of sight loss, you’re not a Grinch. Don’t feel guilty about wanting to spend just a quieter more subdued Christmas, Hanukah, New Years or whatever you usually celebrate. Any health issues could be a traumatic experience, especially if it occurs suddenly, or if it’s a lasting change. Allow yourself to adjust and come to a place of acceptance and mental healing without being pressured into activities that feel overwhelming.
Honesty is not Humbug
Are there friends and loved ones who could be there for you if they knew what you were going through? With them, you don’t have to be embarrassed about sight loss. There’s no need to hide it or act like it’s not as bad. Honesty matters. True friends and loved ones will care and respect you for who you are regardless of your vision. You would want to be there for them, wouldn’t you? Instead of spending the holidays on your own, why not consider letting those few and trusted come in.
Shining a Light for the Little Ones
If you are a parent or a grandparent living with young children, sight loss may be difficult for them to grasp right away. They may not understand that you now have to do things differently and they could be more sensitive to all the changes during this season. With patience and gentleness, take the time to explain to them what it’s like for you. Tell them to describe their artwork, or the beautiful decorations they see. When you take the time to explain to them, they will begin to understand. They will learn how to be kind and helpful, not just to you, but also to others. If you do your best to be positive around them, they will remember your strength when they are going through future difficulties.
Shopping That Helps
Go shopping. Not for toys and trinkets necessarily, but for helpful aids and assistive technology that could make a big difference. From kitchen gadgets to accessible phones like RealSAM, there’s something in the market for everyone. Maybe this season is about finding out what works for you. If it sounds overwhelming, you can visit a low vision centre near you. Many of them have products for demonstrations. You can try out different technologies, get guidance with purchasing and training.
Father Christmas Had Help and So Can You
We loved stories about Father Christmas growing up, but let’s not forget that he didn’t do it all on his own. If you are new to sight loss, you may feel helpless, that there’s very little you can do on your own. It won’t always be this way; you will be able to do many things independently. It takes time to learn and build confidence. In the meantime, if there’s something you can’t do, ask for help. For example, if shopping for gifts is something that brings you joy, and you can’t get to the store on your own or shop online, ask for help. You may eventually get mobility training to get to shops or assistive technology to shop online, but in the meantime, don’t miss out, ask for help.
If you have more critical needs at this time, it’s important to know that there is help and support. Reach out to your local sight loss organisations for resources and guidance. They are there for you.
A Vision for the Season
Despite sight loss, it doesn’t take eyes to remember the true themes of the Christmas season, peace, love, joy, and hope. It’s a time to give thanks for blessings, cherish our loved ones and take joy in knowing that there’s a brighter future to come. If sight loss is overwhelming, take it one day at a time. With support and determination, you will soon be stepping into a new year with independence and confidence.