I vividly remember the first Christmas we celebrated with Syona after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I hit up our local toy store to find some toys that she would like. I spent hours scouring the shelves, trying to find the perfect gift that was age appropriate and suitable for her. I’m not a fan of shopping in general and, between the holiday crowds and my severe sleep deprivation, I got overwhelmed. I purchased nothing and just went straight home.
Based on that experience, I knew I needed a better plan—one that involved a specific list containing items Syona could enjoy and play with functionally (or that could be easily adapted for her use). I realized that if I was this confused as to what to buy my own daughter, how must the rest of our family and friends feel when it came time to buy Syona presents? So I did something I hadn't done before: I simply asked them if they wanted a detailed list of things that would be appropriate for Syona. Both my side of the family and Dilip’s side jumped at the idea, and we agreed that that could always surprise her (and us!) with whatever they desired. Since then, I’ve pulled a list together every year—both for the holidays and Syona’s birthday.
On occasion, other people ask me about tips for buying a gifts for children with special needs and, last year, I focused on gifts for kids with special needs. But the best tip I can share is just to ask—whether it be the parent or the child. Most folks would be happy to share!
As Syona gets older we want to ensure that she’s equally into the spirit of giving as she is with receiving and that she understands the concept in an age-appropriate way. This year, we collected a lot of new toys to donate to the annual toy drive held at my workplace. We talked about how lots of kids would have fun with these toys and they would enjoy getting a surprise. Syona even started her own list for Santa. On her list was the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (it’s a favourite of hers from school) and a toy called Bingo—like the song, not the game. I think Santa will have to remind her that she already has a stuffed puppy named Bingo. My hope is that next year we will work on a “giving list” while we work on her Santa list. I’d love for this list to outline all the ways we’d like to give back to our community as a family—not just over the holidays, but throughout the year.
It’s so easy to have the hectic side of the holidays take over. I just hope that by opening up the lines of communication we make gift giving easier for everyone so that we can back to what the holidays are all about—spending lots of time with loved ones.