Future Reflections         Fall 2009

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by Ana Gschwend

From the Editor: Seventeen-year-old Ana Gschwend lives in Manitoba, Canada. Her mother is a long-time subscriber to Future Reflections, and Ana has contributed several articles to the magazine over the years. Here she recounts her first experience of Christmas shopping without the help of a family member.

The holiday season brings loads of fun and joy, as well as a list of duties that need to be performed. Presents must be bought, trees decorated, treats baked, and stockings stuffed. Blind children should not be excluded from helping out with holiday-related tasks at home and at school. They can help decorate the tree, bake cookies, make crafts items, and carry out just about any other holiday chore.

I have always loved every part of the holiday season. In the days when I still had light perception I loved to see the pretty lights shining from the Christmas trees in the windows of houses in our neighborhood. At home I would look at the lights as I sat near the Christmas tree. Sometimes I'd hold a light close to my face so I could feel its warmth and see its glow.

Last year, for the first time, I did all of my own Christmas shopping and bought presents for my family with my own money. I will do the same thing again this year. It is my way of sharing and giving something back to people I love.

On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, I called the St. Vital Shopping Center near my home and asked for shopping assistance later in the month. I heard about St. Vital's shopping assistance program through an email advertisement, and I jumped at the opportunity to shop without the help of a family member. The woman who took my call was the customer service supervisor. After taking down my name and phone number she set up a date and time with me to go to the mall. I was scheduled to do my shopping on the twenty-second of November.

I had recently won two hundred dollars in a writing contest, and I decided to use the money to buy Christmas gifts. On the morning of the twenty-second I hopped into my mom's car and she dropped me off at the mall's customer service center. It turned out that the woman who took my phone call was the one who would help me with my shopping.

Earlier I had asked everyone in my family what they wanted, so I had mental notes of their wishes. Armed with this information, we set off. I bought a recording of "The Sound of Music" for a blind friend of mine who is a big fan of that musical. I bought some bottles of skin cream for my mom and her sister and some warm thermal socks for my brother. He spends lots of time in cold conditions at work. (Winters on the Canadian prairies are really cold!) I bought warm gloves for one of my cousins and thermal socks for his brother. For my mom I also bought a gift certificate to a music store, but unfortunately I lost it. I had some money left over so I decided to treat myself. I bought two big bags of popcorn and some other junk foods that I love. We finished all of my shopping in two hours. Bags in hand, I met mom back at the customer service counter. We drove home together and I hid my family's presents safely away.

My shopping expedition was well worth the effort. My family happily accepted the gifts and everyone thanked me for them. My friend loved the CD I bought her. It felt good to make my family and friend happy.

This year I won one hundred dollars in the same writing contest. (Last year I came in first, and this year I won third prize.) Again I will use my prize money for my Christmas shopping. I look forward to buying gifts for my family once again. I hope they'll like my choices as much as they did last year.

The holiday season is a time for everyone. Everyone has some sort of role to play. I encourage you to include your blind children in all of the fun and festivities.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

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