Emily Howlett: The 12 Days of Deaf Christmas

Posted on December 15, 2017



On the twelfth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Twelve bags of freebies.

 (No, I wasn’t invited to this party/meeting/awards ceremony. Yes, I am very naughty to gatecrash in this way. Yes, I think it is DEFINITELY because I am Deaf, and I got a bit confused. Of course I will leave, right away. Yes, I will be taking this goodie bag with me. What do you mean ‘why?’? BECAUSE IT’S FREE. Duh.)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Eleven fingers flailing.

(That would be ten of my fingers, flowing beautifully and fluently in British Sign Language, and a single, solitary index finger, belonging at any one time to literally any member of my family, continually waving in a ‘What?’ as they fail to understand absolutely everything I sign. Ahh, Christmas.)

On the tenth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Ten office parties.

 (People in masks, people in extreme make-up, people with fake beards, people with the kind of costume that makes it really hard to concentrate on their face when the rest of them looks so… different. People whose lip patterns are now distorted by alcohol and festive snogging. It’s hard to lip-read these guys in the light of day, never mind through the office party fug. Mind you, all the conversations seem to be about Kelly in Accounts, an organic pumpkin and Daniel from HR, so I’m not missing much. I don’t think…)

On the ninth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Nine batteries dying.

(And there’s only nine in a packet, no I don’t know what happened, yes, maybe I dropped them all into the mulled wine but that’s hardly my fault and actually IT’S A RELIEF TO HAVE AN EXCUSE NOT LISTEN TO YOU, GRANDMA. There, I said it.)

On the eighth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Eight terps a-terping.

(That is a lot of BSL interpreters, I know. But there’s the school Nativity, and then the nursery Nativity, and then the end of year meetings, and the Christmas Show at the theatre, and don’t forget the Christmas Lights Signed Switch-On, and, ok, maybe I don’t NEED an interpreter for that festive speed dating thing, but it’s fun for both of us and at least I’m guaranteed to take someone home. Wait, that came out wrong.)

On the seventh day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Seven Ibuprofen.

(This headache is because I am a Deaf person trying EVERY DAY to navigate a world made for those pesky hearing folk, which is only made MORE DIFFICULT by the Christmas season and 100% not because of eggnog. And if it WERE because of eggnog, which it isn’t, it would be because one of the symptoms of deafness is a strong reaction to a TINY amount of eggnog. Like, six glasses. Hic.)

On the sixth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Six sleighs a-slaying.

(Not my fault if you didn’t hear us coming down the hill, right behind you, at around 65mph. Not my fault at all. You’re the one with ears that work; you should use them for safety instead of iPods. Anyway, I’ll send you a Get Well Soon card and some grapes and please do let me know when you’re out of traction.)

On the fifth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Five misheard songs.

(I am NOT the only one who has, in the spirit of Christmas, agreed to join in with the festive singalong and only realised at the very end, as the final notes die away, that while I joyfully yelled my way through ‘Jingle Bells’, everyone else was actually singing ‘O Little Town of Behtlehem. I’m NOT THE ONLY ONE. I’m just not.)

On the fourth day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… four Wetherspoons.

(Sod the office party, I’m off to ‘Spoons to meet my fellow Deafies, the local Deafies, any passing Deafies, THE WHOLE DEAF COMMUNITY OF THE UK. Pretty much. See you there.)

On the third day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Three signed songs.

(You can love ‘em or hate ‘em, but they’re out there and they are fun. And signed songs open up a lot of conversations around signed languages, including BSL, and help encourage interest in and communication with the d/Deaf community. And who doesn’t love seeing school children signing and singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’? Only terrible people, that’s who. Only. Terrible. People.)

On the second day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… Two captioned films.

(This could be a thing. I would LOVE it if this could be a thing. I am BORED of my cinema-going antics being confined to 4am on a Tuesday, or half past midnight on a Sunday. Dear Santa, this year I’d really like Odeon to cater to me over the festive period, with current films, at a time when I might actually be awake. Yours Sincerely.)

On the first day of Christmas, my deafness gave to me… an assessment for my PIP.

(Oppression of my people by this cretinous Tory government doesn’t stop for anything, not even mince pies. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed that the New Year brings a plague of ants to all their pants, and a much fairer application and appeal process for the rest of us. )

Have an utterly gorgeous festive season, in whichever way you wish, and remember you are more than worth your place in this world every day.

Deafies are for life, not just Christmas.

Read more of Emily’s writing for us here.

Emily Howlett is a regular writer for this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer and teacher. She tweets as @ehowlett

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