Angry Deaf Christmas Ornaments

by JoHarrington

Nobody wants to put a damper on the Christmas celebrations. Let an Angry Deaf Christmas tree decoration gently say it instead!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, and so much background noise that you can't hear yourself think, nor anyone else speak.

You resign yourself to lip-reading through the drunken haze, only to discover that it's the same deaf joke that you've been politely laughing at since you were a child. Your uncle apparently believes it's the height of hilarity, and a highly original jape.

"Deaf, eh? Eh?" Pantomime cupping of the ear. "What's that you said? Eh? Eh?"

Your mother is grimacing at the potential awkwardness, so you smile and have another sherry, while glancing at the Christmas tree where a subtle message hangs like sanity. Angry Deaf is quietly here and has your back.

Image: Christmas Ornament for the Deaf
Image: Christmas Ornament for the Deaf

Christmas Get Togethers Favor the Hearing

There's no getting away from this. It's a simple fact that when people crowd into a room to celebrate together, deaf awareness isn't top of the agenda.

There are few Christmas traditions which don't involve multiple sources of sound colliding into a mush.

For those with enough audio depth perception to separate the voices, this is all part of the festive charm and atmosphere. For those without that ability, it's exhausting, annoying and socially excluding.

But there's not a lot that anyone can do about that. Unless mass seasonal gatherings are going to have all the social buzz of a morgue.

It's a time of goodwill and joy to one and all, but only if the person who's partially deaf pretends to be part of it all.

Angry Deaf is my highly cathartic way of letting off steam. It's where I strike back at the everyday, often unintentional, casual audism that I encounter. Judging by the interest, those sarcastic barbs are hitting chords with other partially deaf individuals out there.

My main motivation is having fun. I no longer stoically make excuses during moments of inconsideration by others. I make notes instead. Then I make buttons and cards.

Yet there are less self-centered rationales too. Various comments received tell me that I'm subtly raising awareness about deaf issues. That's great! But I'm even more pleased when the single-sided deaf or otherwise hard of hearing check in.

These Angry Deaf products are my hug across the ether. My very first badge was made in the spirit of solidarity for a lady being bullied at work for being deaf in one ear.

Each button worn or postcard sent implicitly comes with a message - you're not alone. Someone knew enough to make this for you. It's not just you and your world.

I hesitated before applying my brand of scathing swipes to Christmas ornaments. After all, this is a holiday when all grievances are put aside, and love is supposed to prevail. It's a time of forgiveness and truce.

But it's also a time when those deaf in one ear, or subject to hearing loss in either ear, often feel most socially excluded. They stand on the out-skirts, watching their family chat in undulating groups around the room. They sit back as the Christmas specials blare from the television, while happy conversation ebbs over the top, and they can hear neither.

I figured that a hug across the ether, and solidarity on the side-lines, would be needed more than ever. You got it.

Christmas Medal for the Deaf

Audism Survivor Xmas Medal

Do you know anyone with hearing loss of any description? Then treat them to an Audism Survivor Medal at Christmas!

No need to check if they have encountered it this year. They have.

Ok, if they've been sealed inside a bubble, without any contact at all with the hearing world, then maybe they got away with it. Otherwise, assume that they've experienced, at least, casual audism on a daily basis.

This Deaf Awareness Christmas ornament could be your way of blithely acknowledging that, and saying 'well done'.

Single-Sided Deafness and the Christmas Specials

There's nothing like gathering in front of the box, enjoying the festive entertainment as a family. Unless atmosphere is sacrificed in a mire of deaf awareness.

I both look forward to and dread the television shows at Christmas. So much effort has gone into them. Magical stories, the best comedy lines, epic special effects and a feeling of goodwill permeates the programming.

These shows are called the Christmas specials for a reason. They are written and produced with a view to all the family congregating to watch them, over a wee dram of festive cheer.

It's group entertainment, eliciting commentary about what's playing out on the screen, and the constant offers of top-ups for the drinks, and a plate of mince pies passing back and forth. It's not silent slumping before the box. It's the party continuing with pretty things to watch.

Therein lies the decision for the unilaterally deaf. None of the options are fabulous. They all contain some awkwardness or unwelcome consequences.

  • Put up and shut up.  This is the favorite. But that means that you've now settled in for an hour or three becoming quietly more irritated whenever anyone speaks, shuffles or otherwise makes a noise.

    Plus you're ruining the Christmas specials for yourself. You'll have heard the dialogue fading in and out, and seen the pictures, so there's none of the unfolding drama left for when you watch them on-line later.

    No matter how determinedly positive and cheerful your initial outlook, you are being constantly assaulted by bursts of white noise. Sooner or later you'll be nursing a large glass of alcohol, while brooding over the fact that none of your family seem to either know or care about how you're experiencing this moment.
  • Demand sub-titles on the television. You won't be able to hear the conversations bisecting the show, but at least you'll be able to follow the story on the screen. The distraction may help you keep your equilibrium and forestall slipping into depression and/or hating your loved ones on Christmas Day.

    It sounds like a good compromise, but I did this once and it was awful. The sub-titles gave me all the deaf awareness that I needed. Too much, in fact. The blatant and consistent reminder that someone here couldn't hear killed all conversation dead.

    Talk about a buzz kill! Everyone acted like they were too scared to move, which rendered the room silent enough for the sub-titles to be utterly unnecessary. It was deaf awareness at the expense of the majority hearing, which was no compromise at all.

  • Leave. There's nothing stopping deaf dude simply decamping to another room. There are Christmas presents to explore, or maybe other televisions in quieter places. If all else fails, then there's a whole world waiting on the internet. The problem is removed and everyone is happy... ish.

    This is social exclusion taken to its zenith. This is the deaf pushed out, because there's no room for them in the family group, and everyone present knows it. Even if it's done quietly and unobtrusively, it's still a guilt trip for anyone who perceives what just occurred. It's still isolation for the person bravely redeeming their Christmas elsewhere in the house.

    Worse still, there will be family members who'll never get it. To them, you just rejected their company without cause.

Incidentally, these are also the same options (excepting the sub-titles one) for Christmas parties or any gathering, where multiple conversations take place around the same room. This is Christmas for those with partial hearing loss.

What would you do with a partially deaf person at your Christmas party?

Please respond with your tips, thoughts and tactics. It's not an easy one to resolve. I can see the arguments for exclusion, and I am deaf in one ear!
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Include them!
Guest on 12/08/2013

I would make sure that everyone was aware that they didn't need to shout but needed to watch for the noise level rising and keep it down a bit so that the partially deaf person had a chance to understand things. As I'm introverted I tend to avoid the big noisy gatherings anyway so a spot of quality time with any of my hearing-challenged friends is a relief as it means I can go somewhere quiet with them too.

Ember on 11/20/2013

I'd include them! If I've invited them and I know about it, it'd be easy enough to make sure there's at least some places that would make enjoying a party and general interaction easier. For example I am boring and do things like play board games when I have people over, so I guess it'd be easy enough to not also have a television or music on. Then we could still enjoy each other. Yep, easy enough.

How to Use your Angry Deaf Christmas Tree Ornament

These decorations are designed to be hung on the tree. What happens next is up to you, and perhaps a touch of Christmas magic.

Image: WindlightWhen I envisaged people hanging these decorations on their Christmas trees, it wasn't with any great fanfare and a spotlight trained upon them.

The majority of the messages, printed upon Angry Deaf Christmas decorations, are sneering, vitriolic or playfully dripping with sarcasm. They aren't at all in the festive spirit.

However they're subtle about it. They're festooned with the fonts and colors traditional to the season. Anyone glancing in their direction, without taking a closer look, will just assume that they're displaying some cheery slogan about peace on Earth.

But you'll know. When you're sinking into unintentional social exclusion, you can turn your gaze to the Christmas tree and see it quietly dangling there. Consider it an acknowledgement of your situation; a silent, unseen friend sharing this moment with you. Take the sentiment in wry Christmas cheer and belong again.

Or else you could use it to kick off. Flick it in passing, so people read it. It may serve as a quick burst of deaf awareness, just when it's needed.

If their audism really has gone beyond casual into deliberate, then hand it to them to make a point. After all, punching them in the gob really isn't in the Christmas spirit now, is it?


More Wizzley Articles about Deafness and Hearing Loss

Unilateral hearing affects a significant percentage of the population. How would you welcome a client or guest with this kind of deafness?
Unilateral hearing can result in some excruciatingly awkward social situations. A heart-breaking search query has led to this article.
The Age of the Internet has meant many things to many people, but for those with a hearing impairment it's been fantastic! Now we get a conversation without the hassle!
Alarms in your house warn of anything from a fire to a burglary. But what if the only person there is hearing impaired?
Updated: 07/11/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/20/2013

I'm very glad that you think so. :)

JoHarrington on 12/09/2013

WordChazer - {{{{hugs}}}} Then the retreat ultimately became your room and your own thoughts, which are things which you can carry out of there into the rest of the world. Albeit it would be a different room.

Jumbled thoughts and Very Hard Work conversations are par for the course. It's not just a matter of not hearing well, it's exhausting.

JoHarrington on 12/09/2013

2uesday - Thank you for stepping in for that child. <3

Guest on 12/08/2013

I've just come back from a retreat weekend (article upcoming) and even though it was a retreat, I had to run away on Saturday afternoon back to the room, because my head was singing and my thoughts were so jumbled after being with so many people for a whole 24 hours. The restaurant served lovely food but the wooden floor and cupola ceiling made it a nightmare for sound bouncing off everything. I was trying to speak to and hear two very dear friends from the church and it was Very Hard Work Indeed. I thought of you several times during the weekend, because if I was finding it hard, I can't imagine how much harder you would have found it. In the congregation we also have a lady with cerebral palsy who struggles to speak clearly and a blind lady who orientates herself by sound so they must also have been struggling.

JoHarrington on 12/04/2013

Brothers especially don't know their strength. My brother is four years younger, so when we were kids, I could always overpower him.

A couple of Christmasses ago, we were messing around, having the sort of semi-fight that adult siblings can have, when you're both in your late 30s. It was all a bit of a shock. Though logically I knew that puberty and two decades of brick-building had made him a huge, muscular man, emotionally, I thought I could still topple him. I was wrong!

And yes, he forgets I'm deaf too.

JoHarrington on 12/04/2013

It's all good. You can be sure that I'll remind you, should the situation require it.

Mira on 12/03/2013

I have a weak back these days but still kid around with my brother. He once pushed me so hard right in my lumbar region that I was reeling for days afterwards, wondering if I'd end up stuck again. It's amazing how even close people don't remember what you're dealing with. So I can see why you'd make Zazzle ornaments. :)
The funny thing about memory is that often people forget they themselves are not made of steel, and they start lifting heavy objects and God knows what. Then they know what I'm talking about ;-)

Jenny on 12/03/2013

I always forget you're deaf. Sorry.

JoHarrington on 11/20/2013

As these ornaments (and articles) are being created, I have my family and friends seeing them in my social networking streams. They're kind of registering them all anyway. Though I have highly amused myself a couple of times, so I am still tempted.

Ember on 11/20/2013

Are you going to have one of these ornaments?

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