Thanksgiving is just around the corner in the United States and while I am ambivalent about celebrating the beginning of a mass genocide which devastated so many cultures (I once heard a Native woman say that her father refers to Thanksgiving as “Don’t Feed the Strays Day” I support that sentiment wholeheartedly) I admit to enjoying the food. Yule is coming (otherwise referred to as Christmas depending on your religious traditions and beliefs) Hanakuh falls during the first week of December this year, and those are just the traditions I’m aware of, I’m sure I am missing some.
For many, it’s a time of travel and family and for families with disabled members, it is often extra nerve-wracking. Family gatherings often highlight a disabled person’s circumstances rather garishly. We are aware of this trust us, it’s a big reason why special needs families often feel isolated. If your niece can only eat certain foods include those foods in the meal, even if they aren’t things most would see as “holiday” food. If your nephew eats via a feeding tube and your children have never seen one, take the time and effort to show them one and explain why some people need them before their cousin’s arrival.
If someone coming to dinner uses sign language to communicate perhaps learning to fingerspell your name as well as learning the sign for how you’re related to the person (aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) will make introductions more pleasant for everyone. The biggest thing I can stress is that if you are hosting a family get together and a relative with special needs or their caregiver calls with a request that you do a specific thing that will make their visit to your home easier, please, do your best to make it happen. As frivolous or silly as it may seem to you, I promise it will mean the world to them. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakuh, Blessed Yule and a Joyous Holiday Season and New Year to everyone.