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​Sliding into Winter, Christmas, and 2022

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on December 23, 2021

First Published on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Blog

This weekend I fell skiing on some ice. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was my inability to get back up on the ice. Each time I tried to right myself, I slid further down the hill, cursing my skis. However, this man, a tiny beacon of hope, stopped to help me. Much smaller, he told me he was stronger than he looked. Moments later, I was back on my feet, and he skied away, a hero. Later, when describing the scene to my professional mono skiing husband and expressing my gratitude for not being injured, he could not get beyond the falling part. “Well, why did you fall in the first place?”

Then this morning, after loading the garbage in my trunk rushing before school, a paper towel roll rolled itself away down our hilly drive. Shuffling down the ice, feeling more 87 years old than my 47, my feet suddenly were no longer under me. The mantra I keep telling my family is “No injuries and no Covid before Christmas,” yet now I’ve fallen twice in 24 hours. Our almost 12-year-old son commented, after making sure I was okay, “Mom, this is something else. Dad doesn’t have to worry about being in a wheelchair.”

Confused and flustered, I questioned the comment.

“Ice, Mom, he doesn’t worry about wiping out on the ice.”

While he isn’t wrong, I start laughing thinking about all the other risks he worries about related to our steep driveway– and how many times I have almost let his wheelchair roll away, forgetting to put brakes on.

This may be the last Christmas the real Santa visits our house. Fortunately, our chimney was fixed in the “nick” of time. And while our chimney was being fixed, we noticed our roof also needed to be patched before too much of winter’s snow buried the shingles until spring. But the landing pad should be smooth and clear enough now for Santa’s reindeer. We set up our lights, but not without shorting several circuits and blowing countless fuses before realizing the magical number of cords per plug or bulbs per outlet. I have said more than one time, I really ought to write this down, so history doesn’t repeat itself; but guess what; I haven’t written it down yet. Nope. Not yet.

The stockings are hung. Sort of. We baked some cookies last weekend, and that was magical. We keep our fingers crossed that no one is going to come down with Covid and ruin Christmas with family and friends. I cried watching the news and photos of the organ in Mayfield, Kentucky’s First United Methodist Church, really all that was recognizable from the rubble. Not super religious, the poignancy of the moment was not lost on me– these people whose entire homes and communities, sometimes even families, were destroyed in the wake of devastating tornadoes also lost their church two weeks before Christmas. There were other churches, undoubtedly destroyed in these storms, along with many lives lost.

Three elves on a shelf next to a small Christmas tree in a toy wheelchairHowever, within moments after the storm’s passing, people headed towards the destruction to help; to offer what they could in those terrible moments– the very spirit and definition of humanity. Those are the helpers and the doers– those are the people who renew spirit and hope when all may seem lost. There were those who showed up for church on Sunday morning, standing in the parking lot of their destroyed church or sitting in folding chairs someone had been thoughtful enough to snag from their still standing garage.

Our daughter is 10 and no longer believes in the magic of Santa, sadly, but she has been great about “not ruining it” (her words) for her older brother, who is the only kid in our middle school who might punch someone in the face if they try to tell him Santa isn’t real. This morning, he woke up talking about how he really needed to write his elves a letter because even though they keep moving every night, he has missed the letters they usually write. “They must want me to take the initiative to write first, Mom,” and I agree with him, feeling sad about not taking more time this Christmas season to write those little notes from his elves.

And all this time, we’ve been worried about one of the older kids in his homeroom telling him that Santa isn’t real– when the reality is that it will be his own mom and dad who sit him down sometime in January to discuss Christmas magic, Santa and the elves. We will likely break his big Santa loving heart, but at least the lessons of giving unto others, understanding what matters most: love, health, and family, and believing in hope have been hammered home.

So, as we slide into the home this holiday season, may the spirit of hope and the magic of Christmas keep you and your families buoyed above all that weighs us down or wipes us out.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta, who are 11 and 10, respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

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