'I live with a physical disability – here's why my Christmas lunch is a bittersweet social gathering'

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Illustration by Getty Images
Illustration by Getty Images
  • The festive season is the most triggering time for most people for many reasons.
  • This woman who has a disability has been finding the holiday season challenging because it forces her to reflect on herself.
  • It reminds her that she has no children due to her disability and the inability to do simple tasks like her sibling. 

Be it Christmas lunch or dinner, I usually go to my sibling for a feast of gastronomic delight, and without fail, I leave feeling stuffed from all the food I have eaten.

While I enjoy the precious family time spent together, I cannot help but feel sad for myself. It is a somewhat bittersweet social gathering.

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Watching my older sister around her family makes me look at my own life, not in a comparative manner, but rather from a self-reflective perspective. I live with a physical disability affecting my walking, posture and general mobility.

I am unmarried with no children of my own. Approaching the fourth decade of my life, I yearn to settle down with a partner and have the stability of someone by my side. As far as children go, I am aware that the odds were stacked against me from the outset. Carrying a child and the birthing process would be a physical challenge due to my disability - not to mention the difficulties of being an older parent.

This awareness, however, does not ease my feeling of not being able to choose whether or not I wanted to be a parent. The festive season reminds me of the disadvantages I have to deal with, and it does take away from the celebrations and festive cheer. 

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Cooking is also a challenge for me. It is an arduous task that leaves me feeling exhausted. I do make small meals for myself as the effort is more manageable for me. Preparing meals for a gathering of people is something very daunting to me.

My sister makes it look easy, putting her dishes together with the flair of a professional. I relish sitting at her table and enjoy whatever she puts together, but it reminds me of what I would find challenging. I would need a lot of help in the kitchen if I were to whip up one of her meals.

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Eating with my hands is acceptable when I am in the privacy of my own home, but it does become a little too messy to do when I am not alone at the table. Using utensils to cut up my food to eat is something that the lack of dexterity in my hands does not allow.

I end up having someone else cut up my food for me, which is a small sacrifice. It did, however, take me years to reach the level of comfort in allowing others to assist me in this way.

I usually drink out of a flask to accommodate the tremor in my hands. Sitting at a table for a Christmas meal with other people, I feel, calls for something a little more formal, like a wine glass.

Perhaps it is my internalised ableism, but I feel uncomfortable being the only adult at the table with a straw in my fancy-looking glass. Once again, I am reminded of what my challenges are during a time when everyone is enjoying the festivities. 

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I love Christmas time and welcome the well-deserved break after a long year. I also enjoy spending time with my family and close friends.

It is just marred with some stark reminders that I have challenges. Wouldn't it be nice if they, too, would take a break once in a while?

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