Christmas is just over and the New Year looms. I’m sitting in the early morning quiet, before anyone else is up, enjoying the lights of the Christmas tree and fireplace. Suddenly, what in my wandering mind should appear but this: why have I never realized that Santa—a senior citizen by all accounts—probably has at least a mild hearing loss?
I can’t prove, of course, that the dear old fella is hard of hearing (HoH). And, really who’s he gonna tell? But it takes one to know one, and I’m really good at spotting the telltale signs. You’re wondering why it would matter that we know if Santa’s a HoH; if he doesn’t want to ‘fess up, that’s his choice. But—just consider what a positive role model he’d be to people around the world who struggle with the reality of hearing loss.
So back to my “proof” of Santa’s hard-of-hearing-ness:
He lives at the North Pole. Snow is very quiet and the only traffic noise is when the sleigh and reindeer take off and land. He has chosen this quiet landscape for a reason (HoHs generally don’t like noise.)
He doesn’t like to use the telephone—perhaps he has trouble understanding who’s on the other end? Or what we’re asking for? Imagine the confusion of misheard requests—receiving fishing poles in the desert or snowshoes in Florida! Santa couldn’t handle the phone ringing loudly off the hook; that’s why we have to write to him with our requests.
Santa is very jolly, always laughing or with a beatific smile on his face. C’mon! Nobody’s that happy all the time —he’s doing the pretend-to-understand thing. We should call him Bluffy Old Saint Nick.
The toy shop is very noisy with all that hammering and glue-gunning by what must be hundreds of elves. Santa may have lost some of his hearing in the early days of starting his business, when he had to make the toys himself. Now he leaves it to his hundreds of helper elves. Mrs. Claus probably had the good sense to make herself a pair of earplugs out of reindeer fur.
Finally, you may have noticed how Santa doesn’t talk to you when he comes at Christmas. He sneaks in, does his thing, grabs a cookie and a slurp of milk, and then sneaks off. That’s the classic conversation avoidance of people with hearing loss. “If I don’t engage, I won’t have to say pardon.” Mind you, those of us with hearing loss find it challenging to chat with someone sporting full facial hair and a pipe in his mouth. Very hard to speechread. And we’re generally not good with people who have accents different than our own—does the North Pole accent sound more British or Swedish, does anyone know?
Next year, when we all write to Santa, let’s tell him gently that it’s OK to have hearing loss, and suggest he get his hearing checked. His elves can help him do that on the Internet, although flying an audiologist up to the North Pole is a better idea. And, if necessary, I’m sure one of the hearing aid manufacturers would be happy to cough up a set of hearing aids at no cost, because, after all, Santa-St. Nick has brought so much joy to our lives.
But rather than writing to Santa—when he comes next year, I’ll be waiting up for him. He and I are gonna have a little face-to-face talk.
HoH, HoH, HoH!