Worrying About Vision Loss Struggles During Thanksgiving Visits

It’s that time of year again where many of us visit family and friends to celebrate the holidays. This is supposed to be a really fun venture, and it can be. But for those of us struggling with vision loss...that isn’t always the case.

Many factors come into play when visiting a new place and that can be a recipe for a batch of worry with some anxiety sprinkled on top. Especially for those of us who want to celebrate, but have to consider things like...how do I do that when I can’t see things well and am uncomfortable in unfamiliar places?

What could go wrong?

I mean, what if I don’t see the cat lounging in the middle of the floor and accidentally step on it, sending it screaming and flying across the room to claw its way up the tablecloth, taking the entire Thanksgiving meal with down with it?

I know that cat scenario might be a little bit exaggerated, but I can’t be the only one that frets about all the things my struggling eyes COULD do to cause disaster when visiting someone else’s house, right?

Real worries

Besides catastrophes like that, those of us who struggle with vision also worry about more realistic things like:

  • Is it rude to reach out to the host to help make things easier for me (Can you please place night lights in dark hallways and bathrooms for me)?
  • Will it seem impolite or offensive if I have to ask what things are (Ummm, excuse me, but I can’t tell if that dish is filled with squash or mashed sweet potatoes)?
  • Or, how will it make me feel if everyone wants to talk about how my eyes have been doing since they saw me a year ago at last Thanksgiving (Can’t I just pretend things are okay today, please)?

What could go right?

We have a right to worry about these things, friends. We do. We have all had many experiences where we felt really uncomfortable and misunderstood because of our vision struggles. But, if we aren’t asking for the things we need to help us, then it’s partly our own fault if an issue arises. Hear me out.

Most of us have hosted a dinner or party before. Let me ask you this...
Would you have felt unappreciated or ‘put out’ by one of your guests requesting night lights in hallways? No. Would it have offended you if someone you knew had vision loss asked what type of mushy orange vegetable was in that one dish? Of course not. And honestly, can well-seeing people even tell the difference between squash and mashed sweet potatoes? Who knows!

Food for thought

Let’s dive even deeper...while hosting a meal or party, would you have preferred to know that a guest might struggle with these things so you could make sure to have everything easily accessible to them? Of course! Adding a few night lights here and there and chatting with your friends about what is what while they plate their meals are both very simple things to do!

When we’re hosting something, don’t we really and honestly just want all of our guests to feel comfortable and to enjoy their time? Guess what, your hosts feel the same way! Since we are the ones requiring a little assistance here and there, we may feel like we are being a bother, but we aren’t, really. And, I’d like to say that if someone does happen to be offended by things like this...then maybe we need to have a discussion about what makes a good friend. Am I right?

Communication is important

How can hosts know how to better host if they don’t know of possible issues? How would a person who sees well know that well-lit hallways and bathrooms are important for those of us with vision loss? They wouldn’t. It’s up to us to relay that information.

And, I’m not just talking about communicating needs clearly for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals as a guest. I’m talking about anything and everything we may need a little assistance for. Can’t quite read the label on the box at the grocery store? It’s okay to ask the lady with her cart parked right next to yours. Struggling to read the sign while walking down the street and needing help with directions? Use an app or ask a passerby.

We don’t mind helping others when they need us, so why are we allowing ourselves to worry about needing help sometimes too?

P.S. You do not ever have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. It has taken me almost 38 years to learn that. If you are completely uncomfortable going to someone’s house for a holiday celebration this year, you have every right to say no.

Communicate and enjoy your holidays!

Andrea Junge

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