Being the over-grown child (in an over-sized pram) that I am, it should come as no surprise that I particularly enjoy Christmas. I always have done so, and I’m not going to let disability stop me now.
When I was a small child, one of my favourite things to do in December was to go and see the Christmas lights displayed around Bradford city centre. The colours and patterns caught my attention, especially the series depicting the “12 days of Christmas” down the steep hill between all the shops. This is no different in Leeds, where the city centre is on my door step (figuratively speaking). I rather enjoy bundling up against the cold, and drifting slowly around the streets looking at the lights, and then returning home to a warm drink and a hot water bottle.
Once I began to use my wheelchair on a regular basis, I decked it in tinsel of varying colours each year. Wherever I go it seems to make people smile, especially children, so the small hassle of sticking the tinsel on the chair is worth it. Combined with my Santa hat, Christmas-themed earrings, and Rudolph-scrunchie in my hair, I look faintly ridiculous, but no one is going to start bullying some disabled in public, so I get away with it.
The majority of my Christmas shopping is done on the German Christmas Market which takes over Millenium Square in the city centre for the entirety of advent every single year. Most of the stalls are accessible, with only one or two having small steps up to them, and the wide open spaces between stalls is relatively easy to navigate. The aura of festivity in the lights, sounds, and smells is infectious, particularly in a light snow shower. One of my favourite photographs was taken at the German market in 2016, complete with my beloved polar bear hat perched on my head. I had to borrow my mum’s scooter because my wheelchair had a flat tire.
Some of the stalls sell traditional German food, including some of the best Frankfurters I have ever tasted, washed down with a warm cup of mulled wine or mead. I have been told that the beer tent is rather nice, but as I’m not a fan of beer I tend to ignore that one. Several stalls are purely dedicated to various forms of confectionary, my favourite being the one with fruit skewers dipped in chocolate. The strawberries coated in dark chocolate are something akin to heaven on a stick. There is even one stall entirely dedicated to fudge, in a range of flavours so wide it would bankrupt me to try them all.
Aside from the food there is still plenty to see. Some stalls send trinkets, candles, and ornaments. Some sell jewellery, bags, hats, and scarves. Others sell hand-made, traditional Christmas decorations. There are also two stalls of toys, one with teddy bears in every animal imaginable, including a bat, and the other selling wooden toys like jigsaws and building blocks. It’s exceptionally easy to find a Christmas present for everyone on a market so diverse.
As for Christmas day itself, I would usually spend the day in my parents’ house on holiday from school and university. Church is often too much hassle due to accessibility issues, so we tend to stay indoors opening presents, listening to music, watching TV, and sharing good food and drink. This year will be different; I will be hosting Christmas in the flat I share with my fiancé. This also means I will be cooking Christmas dinner for the first time, so let’s just say it will be experimental. All the same, it will be great for my parents not to have to cook, and they can still be home in time to watch the Christmas edition of Call the Midwife.
I truly hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.