Hear No Husband, See No Husband

My husband gave me super nice wireless headphones for Christmas. We were sitting together on the sofa, trying out their different options. I put the headphones on and enabled the noise canceling feature. I asked him to speak and I couldn’t hear him. I said, “Well, I can hardly see you and now I can’t hear you. It’s like you aren’t even here! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!”

We have been together for 25 years. Those without that kind of tenure should not throw rice at our marriage. For those of you who do have those kind of years under your bridal gown, run, don’t walk, for these headphones.

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Yeah It Will

Day after Christmas shopping is a tradition. I do enjoy it, but my pick-up tine was made earlier this year: 6 a.m.  After many trips to the tequila punchbowl last night.

Five cups of coffee, seven stores and one diner for breakfast in four hours.

Amid the empty shelves, enough rolls of wrapping paper to gift wrap the planet, percent off signs that required us to do math in our weakened conditions, toys that you couldn’t look in the eye if you’ve ever seen Toy Story, and people shopping more cutthroat than before Christmas, a wooden sign at a Hallmark store. It read:

Be humble or life will make you so.
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I Interrupt This Holiday . . .

. . . for the comedian named Technology:

Intention: To alert my husband it was very foggy this morning.
Technology: Be careful. It’s fudgy out.

Intention: To let a friend who wanted to call me know I was at breakfast with another friend.
Technology: With Debbie at breasts. 

Technology: Thank you. Don’t forget to tip your blogger. My name is Tecnology and I’m here . . . well . . . forever. 

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Inbox Full, Under The Tree Empty

Shopping online for gifts is a convenience, but to me, it is much more than that. It’s a way to reclaim some of my independence. Since jumping in my car, list in tow, is no longer an option, I can open the iPad and start browsing, price comparing and ordering. I have enough vision to see things on the tablet, as long as I am able to enlarge, and by enlarge I mean ENLARGE. I still can’t see most colors and there are a few other visual glitches, but it has really been . . well, a gift. My husband and I spend all our weekends running around doing routine errands that I used to be able to accomplish during the week when I could drive. Shopping online for Christmas presents removes the extra burden of holiday stops.

I ordered all my gifts in plenty of time so that delivery would be much before The Big Day. And yet it’s the 21st and I am still waiting for many packages to arrive even though they shipped weeks ago. That would be enough to jingle my sleigh bells (not in a good way) but then the excessive, I would dare to say constant, incoming emails from these online stores exalting last-minute deals and “There’s still time! Delivery guaranteed before Christmas!” are just too much! I keep expecting the emails to be status updates of my orders saying QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING, IT’S ON THE PORCH but instead the shops want more of my business.

I guess I have to look at it this way. Instead of sitting in traffic, then driving countless times around a parking lot to find a spot, crowds, sold out, long lines, fa la la la la, you become obsessive about tracking your shipments and practically scaring the fudge out of your poor mailman when you hear a noise out in front of your house.

In either case, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. That little fact was sarcastically delivered not only in good time, but before Thanksgiving, when the madness began.

Do you know what absolutely must arrive on time? It’s the hottest, most sought-after item on all my girlfriends’ lists: December 26th. 

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I Can Imagine. And I Will.

I recently read the book Blind, written by Rachel Dewoskin. It’s a fictional account of 15-year-old Emma, who is blinded in a fireworks accident. Towards the end of her story, Emma talks about not liking when people say “I can’t imagine”. She questions, why can’t they imagine?

I’ve given a lot of thought to this and she’s right. To get a sense of vision loss, you can close your eyes or put on a blindfold and do some things around the house. (Be careful, of course!) One of my friends has done things in her kitchen while keeping her eyes closed. Another friend told me that every time she gets in her car to run an errand, she thinks about me not being able to drive and what that would be like. They have both imagined, and that means more to me than anything anyone has done for me since my optic nerves became damaged.

When we are children we excel at using our imaginations. We play for hours with a truck, a doll, even the large box that the washing machine was delivered in. It was easy and natural to us. But as adults we focus on what is real and, ironically, what we can see.

Well it’s time for this 50-year-old to be a kid again and flex my imagination muscles. I will really think about what someone is experiencing when they are going through a hard time. I will put myself in their shoes. I encourage you to do the same. No toys are necessary, but if it helps you can go to the attic, find your Barbie, blindfold her and let her walk around her Malibu dream house. Just don’t let her drive her convertible or her camper. Or, she and Ken can get a divorce. Whatever you are trying to duplicate that people you care about are dealing with.

I am always looking for the lesson that my vision loss is trying to teach me. The big lesson, I suspect, is that there are a lot of smaller, but still significant lessons to be learned. And this is one. I can imagine what others are going through and if they are important to me, isn’t that the very least and yet the very most I can do?

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Used To

I went Christmas shopping yesterday with my friend. We had such a great time. In between breakfast at a local diner and appetizers and cocktails at a favorite bar in late afternoon, I realized a few things.

Before my vision loss, I used to love browsing in gift shops, book stores. I used to love spotting an item on a shelf or another kind of display, taking it down to get a closer look.  I used to love finding something special that someone I love would love, buying it and saving it for their birthday or Christmas.

Also, I have to get used to putting my hand on a friend’s shoulder to help guide me and keep me from falling when the sidewalk gets bumpy and a downhill is steep.

Used to. Two little words, two big meanings.

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My friends all have expressed that this year, they just can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit. I am in the same sleigh. It’s more than the stress and overwhelming feeling that usually accompanies the days leading up to December 25th.

I realized the severity of my condition when my husband asked me if I had made a call to check on a backordered gift we are waiting for. Him having to follow-up with me. This is unheard of.

Self-diagnosis via NorthPoleMD shows treatment as:
Overdose on candy canes, egg nog (mimosa substitution permitted), cocoa, Snickerdoodles and Christmas songs. Build yourself a gingerbread house and move into it until you are back to bossing him around. 

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