My name is Amanda Northrup. I am 34-years-old and from Tennessee. I am a wife, mom, working artist, gym developer and an advocate for inclusion in fitness for the disabled. I also happen to be a quad amputee and in a wheelchair. I had meningitis at 4-years-old and have been disabled for 30 years.
I also happen to love Christmas!
I love it! The lights, sounds, smells, and trees – all of it! But there are obstacles with Christmas from a wheelchair and being a parent. It is crowded everywhere and people get rude. You are trying to run around, be joyful, and get things done but you are exhausted. Or if you are an amputee (like me), cold weather can bring on phantom pain which can derail plans. “Sorry we can’t go see Santa today because momma is having pain” is always hard to have to explain and even harder to see disappointment in an eager 6-year old’s eyes whose great love in life is Christmas.
Not all places are accessible for people with disabilities and it is even more apparent during the holidays because you just want to go and do things and have a great holiday experience like everyone else but it gets foiled because it is not “accessible.” So, what do you do?
I tell you what you do – you find alternatives! It’s Christmas and do not let anything or anyone ruin it for you! The spirit of the season is Hope!
Don’t let crowded malls, people who stand in the way rudely, or any obstacle take that away!
Decorate the parts of the tree you can reach, research the places that are accessible or call ahead. Even if you have to go sit at the side and watch your child ice skate with her dad (or other nondisabled adult) while you just watch, do it go because she’ll remember you being there and not that you cannot skate.
The biggest thing about sharing holidays or events with your child is not whether you have a disability. The biggest thing is that you are present because they’ll remember you were there. So, I hope everyone goes out and has the best Christmas and holidays they can! Life is what you make it at any season
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from my home to yours!