It’s the holiday season, bringing with it, its beautiful music, glittering trees and wonderfully wrapped presents. For me at least though, there are unseen gifts: Presents I have received that cannot be seen. With a disability, especially an undiagnosed disability, there are a myriad of challenges that come with it. However, what many people don’t understand or maybe can’t comprehend are that there are gifts that these challenges bring as well.
There is a gift of a change to your holiday priorities. The presents are nice but not half as nice as the family Christmas music. It’s not the typical Christmas Carols I am speaking of here. It’s the laughter of my sons cooking in the kitchen. The greeting of my daughter and her fiancé who live far enough away to make our coming together all the more precious. The crowds in the kitchen catching up and passing family stories. These are the gifts that matter to me these days.
The gift of determined focus. There is nothing better to motivate you to begin long postponed weeding out and organizational projects than a disability, especially when said disability always seems to be randomly trying to take away little pieces of your independence. As a result, battling back to claim small pieces of freedom from that disability becomes paramount, your mind quickly clarifying what you need to do to keep the independence you prize so dearly. As you move forward with the clearing away, you soon realize the unexpected gift of calmness that comes along with the order you’ve created. The enjoyment of being able to find what you need quickly and efficiently giving you more time and energy to do what you enjoy. The ability to do for yourself, differently, but still the same feels like one more thing you’ve taken back and claimed as your own.
Which brings in my final gift: Enjoyment despite. Despite the disability and despite the challenges, you become acutely aware of the beauty and joy of everyday life that still exists whether it’s within the holidays or beyond. It comes to the forefront even more with every new challenge that comes my way. Showing me the beauty of life, of living in the here and now, the enjoyment of today, and the anticipation of the beautiful gifts yet to come, which I suspect without my disability, I may not have had such a great appreciation for. I will always treasure these gifts, moving forward with determination and joy in my soul, glad for just being.