I became sick and lost the ability to walk over four years ago. Since then, old holiday traditions have evolved into new one. My husband and I have tried hard to help ourselves as well as our children. We’ve embrace the many changes in our newly established traditions while making every effort to maintain the spirit of family, fun and community.
Let’s start with Halloween. Some of the old traditions were that my husband and I took turns taking the kids trick-or-treating while the other parent stayed home, made dinner and passed out candy to neighborhood kids. Now, we pass out candy as a family. The weather is much nicer here in Arizona. So, we set up a table in the driveway, decorate the house and haunt anyone who happens to come by. Another neighborhood parent took the kids trick-or-treating in the area and hubby and I hung out. Everybody had a good time and the spirit (no pun intended) of fun and community remains.
When I first was diagnosed and quickly lost a lot of my mobility, I was sad about Thanksgiving. My daughter, who was about to turn nine years old, was excited that we were going to teach her to cook. Passing on family recipes has been a tradition for both me and my husband when we were growing up. Over a year later, I was blessed to find Quantum Rehab and my Edge® 3 Power Wheelchair with iLevel®. This technology allowed me to cook easily and safely. On the night before Thanksgiving, we started cooking and stayed up until the early morning hours, cutting, measuring, stirring, dicing, cooking and tasting and making sure the tradition continued. With iLevel technology, I could reach the counter at the proper height, wash dishes in the sink and reach across the stove. It felt so good to show my daughter how it is done, instead of just giving instructions.
Our Christmas traditions include decorating the mantle and the tree. We used to invite friends over and together with visiting family members, we’d decorate the house with yuletide cheer. We hung lights, popcorn strings, Christmas wreaths and stockings along with many other small touches that make this holiday one of my favorites.
Over the last two years, we’ve decorated and celebrated with just family. We cook a smaller meal and spend a lot more time making Christmas cards for family back east. We also find a deserving family to sponsor. We do a lot of our shopping online, so our kids compete to see who will bring in the most Amazon packages. They really enjoy picking out toys for someone less fortunate. I also took the kids to the Walk-Thru Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo. My Edge® 3 Power Wheelchair performed wonderfully on the many hills and different terrain. The front and rear LED fender lights certainly came in handy, increasing visibility and lighting the way. I received an early Christmas present from my husband: a heated blanket with a USB plug. Because my power wheelchair has a USB port, I used the blanket to stay warm while seeing the beautiful lights. Although we have experienced numerous changes in ways of celebrating, we have kept the spirit of each holiday alive and well.
About Merlisha Henderson: Merlisha uses an Edge 3 Power Wheelchair for mobility and lives in Arizona with her family. As a wife, mother and disability advocate in her community, she stays active and independent, working toward bringing equality and access to all. Click here to learn more about Merlisha.