There are pine needles all over my living room floor. And we have technicolour lights draping from our roof. Yes, it can only mean one thing – it’s Christmas.
I love chatting to people and finding out what their Christmas traditions are. Deaf or hearing, most of us are traditionalists at Christmas time. We usually do the same things year after year. It brings feelings of comfort, peace, and familiarity.
My hearing family usually spend Christmas Eve at home before they attend a Christingle service at their local church. For them, christmas goes hand in hand with singing carols & playing music. It all seems to evoke feelings of bittersweet nostalgia.
They then spend the night with close friends, indulging in a cheeky chinese takeaway & a few drinks before dropping off on the sofa at home, a Christmas concert on the telly.
My husband’s deaf family and friends do things a little differently.
They don’t bother with church and there aren’t any Christmas carols in their plans. Instead they hold annual gatherings on Christmas Eve at a Family pub where deaf families across the city can meet, eat, drink and be merry.
Instead of the intimate setting my hearing family enjoy, this deaf gathering is loud, busy and extremely jolly. Oh, and it goes on for hours.
So when my husband and I had our own children, we had to explore what our own traditions would be. The tricky thing being (as I’ve said before,) whilst I have one foot in the hearing and deaf worlds, my husband is a whopping great big capital D Deaf.
Church service without an interpreter? Forget it. Pretend to lip-sync carols that he’s never seen before? I don’t think so. Spend the night surrounded by hearing people who can’t sign? Not happening.
But we’ve found ways to satisfy all of our Christmassy needs. For the children too.
Instead of dreading the visit to see a bearded non-deaf-aware Santa, we now make a special appointment to visit the Signing Santa at the gorgeous Kedleston Hall. He signs, the location is magical, and his beard is real. Even my husband believes in Santa when he sees this one.
We’ve also found a local event by a deaf children’s society that does Christmas sign songs. And I’ve worked -for the first time- with a hearing singer to produce some signed song Christmas videos! The amount of BSL carols online is abysmal, so I’m excited to share songs that my kiddies can get involved with too.
Browsing Facebook, we’ve found deaf clubs that still hold Christmas parties for children and many families travel hundreds of miles to enjoy these occasions together.
Our son also has his first nativity this year (he’s a sheep!) and the school have provided us with a script, sign language access and the best seats in the church to watch the production. Result.
So, thinking about it, deaf and hearing people don’t do things massively different at Christmas time – it’s just a matter of providing access. And let’s not forget as a deaf community we’re all individuals with unique tastes.
While some of us may relish in the cheesy signed songs and the #so this is christmaaaaaaas# feeling, there will also be deaf people (like my hubby) who are happiest just signing away to family & friends, having a few bevvies & Yule logs without Slade blaring in the background.
So it’ll be a signed carol service at an accessible church this Christmas Eve before we join the deaf families for food & fun. However you’re celebrating Christmas, I hope it’s a truly happy one for you and your family.
All together now! #I’m dreaming of a whiiiiiite Christmas…#
Rebecca-Anne Withey is a freelance writer with a background in Performing Arts & Holistic health. Read more of Rebecca’s articles for us here.
She is also profoundly deaf, a sign language user and pretty great lipreader.
Her holistic practices and qualifications include Mindfulness, Professional Relaxation Therapy, Crystal Therapy and Reiki.
She writes on varied topics close to her heart in the hope that they may serve to inspire others.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out 7 things deaf people want you to know!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- BSL Zone: TV programmes in BSL for the Deaf community
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people