Every Christmas I am reminded of how far SJ has come. Her first three Christmases she couldn’t speak or really even hear. For her fourth Christmas, she was at Ohio Valley Voices learning to talk. Every year the school has a Winter Program and it is a great opportunity for these deaf children to show off what they have learned. The first year SJ had started saying a couple of words, but at almost four years old she could still barely talk. Here is a video of her saying and signing daddy, mommy, Deemah (because her friend Deemah was next to her and she spotted Deemah’s mom in the crowd).
” The next day at the school’s Christmas party Santa gave her a present. SJ unwrapped it to find a simple paperback book called “The Littlest Christmas Star”.
I smiled and was happy for her, but when I read it aloud I realized it was so much more than just a story. It was about a boy that wanted to have a big part in his Christmas play at school, but all of the major roles were taken. His part was to dress up like the Bethlehem star and he only had one little line which was “follow me”. At the end of book it talks about the bright light shining down on him. The crowd cheered and he knew then that even though he may have had a small part, he was a BIG star. I would say that book was more than just a gift from Santa to SJ, I think it was also a gift from my heavenly Father to me. Seeing SJ in the winter program could have been a reminder for me of how far behind she is compared to the other kids in her class. She can’t speak as well as her friends and she couldn’t quite muster out the words they had practiced for weeks, but still, that night as she stood up there and spoke into the microphone she was my shining star.”
The following year she was able to say “Santa, I want a Minnie Mouse for Christmas. I love you mommy, daddy, Zion, and Ezra”.
She had a long way to go in terms of vocabulary and intelligibility but she had come so far! Every Christmas she was up on stage at her school and each time her words were more and more clear. Last year she had her final performance at Ohio Valley Voices Winter Program. What a delight it was to watch her sing a small solo of Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer.
This year was bittersweet. It was her first Christmas (since she was three) that she was not in the Ohio Valley Voices Winter Program, however that doesn’t mean she didn’t get her time to shine. Not only did she help me greet the congregation at church on Sunday and Monday,
but she also had a couple of lines in the video that the church showed of the kids’ reciting Luke Chapter two. She had two different lines but here is a clip of her saying “An angel of the Lord appeared to them”
It’s such a simple line, but I was reminded in that moment what a miracle it is that she can say that! It’s something I don’t take for granted.
She recently brought this paper home from school.
It doesn’t look like much. It’s just a worksheet for the students to write and draw how they imagine they would respond to the sights and sounds of the North Pole. As I read about what SJ imagined hearing I was reminded again of the gift of hearing.
These were all special moments for sure, but the icing on the Christmas cake was when I got a letter from SJ’s teacher reporting that she was at grade level academically and she had no issues or concerns at all. This meant we did not have to meet for a parent teacher conference because she is doing so well. What a praise report.
I can’t believe how grown up she is. Her 9th birthday is right around the corner. Before SJ was diagnosed I never really considered hearing a gift, but know I do and it’s one that we get to unwrap year after year as SJ continues to shine!