The holidays are full of celebration, excitement, and cheer! How could they not be during the season of giving and get-togethers? Whether it's an event for work, amongst friends, or with your extended family, this is typically a time of year people look forward to catching up and spending time with each other. However, when you have a disability, your experiences might seem a bit...different - I know mine seem to be!
In the media, there is often a stereotype of how people dread the holidays because of the comments and scrutiny of overly judgmental family members. Maybe you have a mother asking about your romantic relationships, friends asking about the details of your job, or how school is going.
I will even argue that my Mongolian background magnifies the chances of these types of subjects being covered as it's quite common for us to be more straightforward with our thoughts.
With all the people I see during these celebrated moments, I enjoy my share of making memories and practicing time-honored traditions, but there is another aspect of these encounters that I often experience - the heavier-than-usual concentration of unwelcome judgments and patronizing compliments. Regardless of your cultural background, this might be even more pronounced if you have a visible disability. I believe aquaintances, friends and loved ones might mean well, but it is usually just a matter of time when your conversations become centered around your disability.
"How are you holding up?"
"I'm amazed somebody like you could finish school!"
"Are you feeling okay?"
"Are you sure you should be doing that with your condition?"
While these questions once in a while are expected on a daily basis, and often come from a place of care, they can be a bit overwhelming when they're being asked over and over again during the holidays.
If you have a disability and are experiencing this, how do you cope? Perhaps changing the subject, or maybe just accepting and anticipating that it will be something to expect during the holidays and major get-togethers can make it easier to mentally prep for? Maybe taking the lead and initiating conversations is more helpful for you?
If you are an acquaintance or loved one of somebody with a disability, how can you avoid making things uncomfortable? Perhaps considering more fun topics, or keeping things positive and optimistic will be a wiser route to take? After all, the holidays are supposed to be fun, right? Instead of focusing on topics centered around one's disability, how about keeping things light-hearted, like discussing your favorite holiday movie, or, you know, letting me know how adorable my pup and I are in our matching onesies?
Happy holidays everybody! Stay safe, and more importantly, HAVE FUN!