A Cure for Christmas

Photo shows a lit evergreen tree standing next to a festive old-timey movie theater marquee.Growing up Catholic, the traditions of Christmas were plentiful. The rituals of going to Mass, decorating our home, baking holiday treats, listening to festive music, and enjoying holiday feasts happened annually. Charitable acts and presents taught the lesson of how to graciously give and receive. (No toys until you write those thank you’s!) As a kid, it was easy to live in the generous spirit.

Intentions matter with gifts. The need to show love through physical gestures saturates America. The desire to fill a perceived loss rings true. Add stress and fear to the season and we jingle all the way into Fixer Mode. What is broken? What is wrong? Shopping for perfect gifts is like finding the solution, a cure. But, searching for perfect gifts isn’t always economical or fruitful.  Can we make do with what we have?

When others realize I live with vision loss, some focus on the quest for a cure. Have I visited Remedy Road’s surgical, homeopathic, and spiritual storefronts? How close is scientific research to a cure for blindness? Well-meaning, but perhaps misguided due to American pressures to assimilate. Cure seeking ignores characteristics we already possess.

So, let’s talk medical science. In 2016, the prominent “bionic eye” available in the US is the Argus II. To qualify for the implant, patients must have retinitis pigmentosa. I do not, so that’s a dead-end. Another visual prosthetic is the Orion 1. This alternative route is blocked to me, too, as I’m not fully blind in both eyes. But let’s say I qualified for one of these fascinating medical technologies. The implants require dedicated rehabilitation effort to interpret the electrical stimulation, the new sensory input the brain encounters. It’s not like flipping a switch to light the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, vision ON.

The bottom line is this: a cure for blindness equates to a fairy tale ending. It doesn’t solve society’s inclusivity problem. It doesn’t change negative attitudes about disability. Eliminating differences weakens a culture. What’s more important than a cure is help and acceptance.

Giving Tuesday, the echo to retail’s Black Friday, encouraged donations to charity this week. Do you examine what your money funds? If you supported a group in the blindness community, what is it doing for people with vision loss? Does it encourage mobility? Job training? Accessibility technology? Emotional support services to adjust to living with a disability in a society that isn’t completely accessible? Or does the organization simply fund research for a cure? While a cure for blindness won’t happen next year, there will be millions of people living with vision loss for years to come.

I may want a cure for blindness, but I don’t need one. I don’t need extravagant gifts, either. All I want for Christmas is moments of wholehearted joy and understanding. I’m ok. I can live well with low vision. Priceless support can’t be bought, but it can be given and received. Offer it this holiday season.

How do you feel about holiday gifts and rituals? Do you like shopping? Do you donate to charity? What makes the holidays meaningful for you? Tell me about it.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Camie says:

    What an honest post. I hear you. There is a lot of emphasis on material things this time of year and that’s sad. I love Christmas. I enjoy decorating, baking, visiting Temple Square in Salt Lake City, singing carols, crafting, watching Christmas movies, reading Christmas stories, giving service, worshipping, and I enjoy these traditions because I do them with my family and friends as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. I wish you a joyous Christmas.

    1. Thanks, Camie! You have a lovely bunch of traditions to celebrate the holiday.

  2. Very interesting post. I take your point about a cure for vision loss. Of course it would be wonderful if technology could come up with a switch to turn our sight back on but technology can even now enrich and enable us with accessibility aids and our friends, relatives and communities provide understanding and support. . For me Christmas is about family and friends and enough materialism to make it fun. Oddly enough, as someone raised without religion, I like to give to the Salvation Army at this time of year for their non judgmental work with the homeless and distressed. To be a bit frivolous, the big question this year is will It’s a Wonderful Life be replaced by the Gilmore Girls movie? Season’s greetings to you and your family, Susan.

    1. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, Bridget! Have you visited one of the winter markets yet? Those pop up markets are so something that would be happening in Stars Hollow.

  3. Casee says:

    This post gives me much to think about. I focus too much on cure and not enough on inclusivity. I also need to accept that it will take many different cures for blindness as there are so many different causes.
    I long ago grew weary of the commercialization of Christmas and try to have a low key affair.

  4. ejb117 says:

    You make some really good points in this post. I dream of a miracle cure for retinal detachment and wish that no-one would have to live with sight loss. I’ve done a lot of fundraising for an eye charity with an emphasis on research in the hopes that better treatments and potential cures will be found. This charity does also help with the here and now of helping people, but your post has made me think more about my contributions to charities with both aspects in mind – thank you.

    1. I commend your fundraising efforts and thank you for sharing your perspective.

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