A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Andi asked me what I’d like to have for Christmas this year.
My brain was blank. For the first time in, um…ever, I honestly couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted. I have everything I need, and most of what I want – at least if you take the things off the list that you can’t buy, like the scale showing a number ten less than what it currently shows, or things that are WAY outside of our budget.
I remembered that shortly after I got into Pinterest, I created a board of gift ideas for me (which is not at all narcissistic…) so I decided to check it out/refresh my memory. On it there were three purse-style camera bags (don’t need one because I made my own), a flash attachment for my camera (that my mom already gave me for my birthday), three jewelry items (that, let’s face it, I would never wear), and a negative scanner (that, in my present state of my mind just seems like work, not fun).
I spent the next few days racking my brain to figure out something that I’d like to have. The more I thought about it, the less I felt like I needed anything. All of the things that I’d like to have – a house that magically cleans itself, healthy dinners that appear when I snap my fingers, flat, rock-hard abs without dieting or crunches – are off the table, so I had to restrict my thinking to what was possible.
So basically, I got nothin’.
From time to time, in my search for Sun-Beams links, I come across things that aren’t so sunny, like this piece in Discover magazine, and because I don’t want to live always in an echo chamber, I read it and the associated comments (and the article it referenced). It was a harsh reminder that there are people – many of whom are in the medical and scientific communities, working to achieve “progress” in health matters – who don’t believe people with disabilities should exist. Cure what you can and eliminate the rest is the message.
What would I like to have for Christmas? For people to be more accepting of imperfection.
I wonder if these people have ever spent any time interacting with – nay, loving! – a person with a condition such as Down syndrome. My guess is probably not, because if they had, it wouldn’t be as easy to dismiss a subset of the population as wholly unworthy of life. The abortion rate of people with Down syndrome is high, but on the other hand, a waiting list exists for domestic adoption of children with Down syndrome. Lots of people don’t want them, but lots of people do.
I reflected on the time, when Nathan was not-quite a year old, that a friend of mine admitted to me that he had been apprehensive about meeting Nathan for the first time, but within a few minutes he realized that Nathan was like just about every other little boy he’d ever known, and now he embraces Nathan wholeheartedly. I suspect that other friends – and possibily family – may have felt the same way, but just didn’t admit it to me.
Medical gobbledygook didn’t take away his angst – being around Nathan did.
I can’t change people’s hearts by adding that request to my Santa list, but I can take my children places, include them in things, and share their delightful wonderful-ness with as many people as possible. Will everyone “get it”? No. But one day, when a critical mass of people become comfortable with disability, the tide will turn and society will embrace all kinds of people – no matter what they look like, no matter what they can or can’t do.
What do I really want for Christmas?
For each and every one of you reading right now to boldly share with the world the secret that too few people know: that people with disabilities rock.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.