What I Would Like to Hear This Christmas

Dear Santa,

How are you? I’m sure you’re busy and this is a long letter, so I’ll get to the point.

I have hearing loss, which causes a few communication issues at this time of year, as you can imagine. Well, maybe you can’t imagine, because you don’t have hearing loss. So, let me tell you about my challenges and why I’m asking for your help again.

Santa, at this time of year, it’s hard to hear. The holidays are noisy with all the festivity, parties, concerts, music and crowds of people. People get excited, making them louder and sometimes less intelligible. I have to work harder to hear and understand, causing more stress  in a season that’s already emotional.

I want more from the holidays than just great turkey and looking my best sparkly-glam self. I want to ‘hear’ more; I want to get rid of those communication barriers that can leave people like me – people with hearing loss – out in the cold.

So, here are my challenges and some solution gifts.

One:  At Christmas Eve dinner, we have 12 people sitting at the long oak table. It’s beautiful, but I have difficulty following the conversation with its chaotic, overlapping snippets of talk. And I don’t care if the chit-chat is trivial, that’s part of the fun!  I want to choose what’s worth listening to and I don’t want my conversation limited to the person sitting beside me.

So, could you bring me a round dining table, so I can see and communicate with everyone? If a round table won’t fit on the sleigh,  could you bring my husband a band saw and some industrial glue? We’ll cut off the corners, round-off the edges, and create a big, beautiful, communication-rich table!

Two: After the big turkey dinner, we all sit around the living room and the jokes fly, thick as the snow outside. I would love to get the punch lines in real time, not repeat time. If I could laugh in the right place at the right time for the right reason….well, I almost can’t imagine the joy of it.

But I’d like to try, so how about a conference table microphone for the coffee table? I’ll wear my neck loop which will suck everyone’s voice into my hearing aids. I may not hear myself speaking too well, but there’s a great opportunity for your techno-elves to make an even better system for next year. And if you bring it, I’ll pretty up the table mike with some holly; I don’t want to hide my hearing loss, I want to show it off to my family and friends.

Three: Sometimes, to get some fresh air, we go outside to make snow angels and take a walk under the night stars. I don’t mean to whinge, but when we’re all walking in the same direction, in the dark, it’s not exactly speechreading heaven. But last year I didn’t say anything to the others, just to myself, “Shh, don’t break the spell of the moment.”

But this year, I would really appreciate a personal FM system. That way my husband and I can walk and talk and create some new spells.

Four: This last one may be beyond your powers, Santa. When I was little, I asked my father each year what he wanted for Christmas. He always answered ‘peace and happiness for the whole wide world’ and I would laugh at my silly daddy.

But now it’s me asking for something as big as that.

So many people with hearing loss live in a fog of denial and anxiety.  They lack information and financial resources.  Could you give them – these friends I don’t know yet – something they really need such as the courage to speak up and say, “I have hearing loss?”

In their stockings or mailbox, perhaps you could drop a pamphlet about support organizations such as HLAA, CHHA, ALDA, AG Bell, VOICE, and NAD or CAD?

And finally, maybe you could put your weight behind our drive for more accessibility and affordability in the world of hearing health?

Thank you, Santa. I know I’ll always need technology to hear well and that’s ok, although I still dream about waking up in the morning to the sound of birds, or being able to hear my child or husband whispering to me in the dark.

And who knows, this may yet happen. As a child, I was told that hearing aids would never help me, and now I have them and they connect me to the world.  It’s a modern miracle.

 I’m sure you helped with that, Santa.  This is why I’m asking again.

With affection,

Gael

ps:  Safe travels  – and make sure you trim your mustache before talking to children with hearing loss!

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your Santa letter with us. It’s a reminder of the challenges of the Christmas get-together for the hard of hearing. It’s also a reminder to us of all the things we might be doing to “orchestrate” a better Christmas for ourselves. May your season be full of the sounds of Christmas, one at a a time.

  2. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Santa could deliver all these techy gadgets to everyone who has a hearing loss and could use them. Thanks for articulating the wishes so well. May Christmas be full of all that you wish for.

  3. Happiest of the Holiday Season Gael! What a wonderful request to Santa and once again your sense of humour (a must with hearing loss) has come shining through. Thank you for the breath of fresh air!

  4. Beautifully written ‘Dear Santa’ letter Gael. I could actually visualize each request. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if Santa could come through with at least one of your wishes next year?

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