Archive for December, 2006

This is part of a Three-Part story I have written about my experiences as a Deaf child growing up in an all-hearing family, and what it was like during family holiday get-togethers.

I encourage you to read ALL THREE PARTS in order to get the full story – you will find parts One and Two in Archives #3 A Deaf Pagan Shares under the “Categories” section in the sidebar menu at the left…simply click on Home for the Holidays (Part One) and Home for the Holidays (Part Two) to read the other “chapters” of this story. Or you can simply click the thumbnail graphics at the end of this post.

This was my childhood. I grew up this way. I grew up practically dreading those three words – “Time for dinner!” While it may have meant being able to chow down on my mother’s good cooking, it also meant having to spend that dreaded time at the table eating in silence while my parents and my brother engaged in their usual chit-chat about who-knows-what. I found myself hating those dinnertime conversations, and resenting my brother for the fact that he was able engage in them, while I was expected to just sit there quietly, keep my elbows off the table, and chew my food with my mouth closed. I was “Little Ginny”….I had no voice, and thus no opinions to offer. Sometimes I wonder if my family even thought I possessed a brain.

Well….I got news for ya now. Little Ginny ain’t so little any more. She’s grown up, and she’s found her voice. She has a brain, and she isn’t afraid to use it. She has thoughts and opinions and ideas of her own, and she isn’t afraid to express them.

Unfortunately, my family doesn’t seem to have figured that out. Even today, my mother tends to act rather shocked whenever she hears anything coming out of me that remotely rings of original thought or high intelligence.

Small wonder I haven’t been home for the holidays in years. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I spent Christmas with my family. I know it’s been over ten years…closer to twenty. It’s been even longer since I had Thanksgiving with anyone I could call flesh and blood.

The sad thing is…this doesn’t seem to be such a unique feeling amongst the Deaf Community. Conversations with other Deaf individuals have brought up similar views and experiences. One of my best friends, who is also Deaf but doesn’t possess my “crackshot” lipreading skills, feels much the same way about having to go home for the holidays. So does my other Deaf friend, who groans at the thought of making that dreaded sojourn home to dine with the folks – and she happens to have those same speech and lipreading skills that I do.

That’s the harsh reality of the holidays for us Deafies, folks. It’s that time of the year when we are stuck between needing to meet our family obligations, and wanting to run screaming in the opposite direction. It’s not that we don’t love our family members…we do. We just don’t want to be trapped in the same room with them.

Granted, not every Deaf person I know deals with this. There are some who are fortunate enough to be born into Deaf families, and thus the communication issues don’t exist…at least not from a methodology standpoint, anyway. True…knowledge of sign language isn’t an instant guarantee that you will have anything worth saying to each other. But in most cases that I have seen, there seems to be a closeness in Deaf families that doesn’t exist otherwise…a sense of love and acceptance and understanding that is often missing for Deaf children of Hearing families – especially if those family members don’t sign themselves. Sure…Aunt Hilda might still drive you up the wall…but at least it won’t be because she forgot her dentures again.

Geez, I envy those Deaf Families! Certainly, I am sure if you were to talk to them, these folks would argue that it isn’t always wine and roses…that “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” sort of thing. I do recall a friend at Gallaudet complaining that even though he traveled clear across the country from California to Washington DC to attend college at the world’s only liberal arts campus exclusively for Deaf students, his Deaf parents always seemed to know exactly what he was up to. That “Deaf Grapevine” can be mighty lethal when you’re a college student more intent on studying beer than biology.

But when the holidays roll around, I can’t help wondering if they realize how lucky they are. Going home for the holidays is something they can look forward to.

As for me, I’ll just stick around my own kitchen, thanks.

At least I make a really great stuffing.

Click on Thumbnail for Home for the Holidays (Part One) hearing-aids.jpg

Click on Thumbnail for Home for the Holidays (Part Two) lips.jpg

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »