Christmas in SayWhat Village 2004

By Martha Mattox


Outside it looked like winter wonderland. The trees were covered with snow and the branches bending from the weight of the snow. Icicles sparkled from the trees. There were various cottages surrounding a castle in the middle. At the entrance to the community was a sign that read :


“ Dedicated to enhancing interpersonal communications for people who are hard of hearing, deafened or have a serious interest in hearing loss, with goals of:

 * educating SayWhat residents and the public about all aspects of hearing loss.

 * providing mutual sharing of coping and “life” skills

 * reducing feelings of isolation, frustration and despair

 * enhancing feelings of self-concept and optimism


As one approaches the castle and rings the doorbell, lights start to flash. The door is answered by Head Elf Ann from the Hospitality Committee. The whole place is decorated for the holiday season for Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa. Co-Head Elf Jaana approaches the visitors and offers them some hot beverages to warm up. Each visitor is assigned a sponsor to show them around.

Going into the Hospitality room there are Elf-size chairs. The chairs with the names Ann and Jaana painted on them are noticed first. But as one looks around one also sees chairs painted with names like: Peggy (who is also a Board Member), Robyn , Bill, Mark, Debbie, Jo, Wia, Martha, Donna, Mary and Dawn, There are two new chairs with fresh paint on them. They say Marti and Patsi. The Elves here are busy helping the new residents getting settled . Each new resident is assigned to a “Home”--like a smaller community around the SayWhat Village.

Each one of the Home lists has Elves helping to keep the Home communities going with activities and support. These representatives of the Home lists have a separate room they meet in, the List Rep Committee. Looking in their meeting room there are Elf-size chairs also with names. There are : Linda S who is the Head Elf on the committee. Then there is Eve the Co-Head Elf. There are still more chairs with Helen, Kim, Linda B, Sue, Art, Stacy, Louise, Anita, Theresa, Gladys, Julie, Maurice, Laura, Vickie, Sarah, Linda K, Susan, Debbie, Jack, and Suzanne G.

As the new residents walk around they see another room. There is a sign saying “Outreach” This is the room whose workers contact residents who are leaving the Village and ask how the SayWhat Village can improve. This committee is headed by Suzanne J. Also Elf-size chairs for Dorothy, Janet, Jill, Marti, Maurice and Peggy S. are here. They work mostly outside the village and are not seen as much.

Walking down the hallway, they approach another room. The sign says “Board Room” . The elves are just finishing up a meeting. When they see the new residents, they approach them. Bobeee Claus who is President and founder greets with with a big smile and has his FM mic to chat with the new members.

He introduces them to the other board members, Arthur, the Vice-President; Alan, the Secretary; Cathy, the Treasurer; Peggy; Susan D; and Jazzy. They are all happy to see the new residents and make them feel welcome.

The new residents continue walking and come upon various other rooms. There are the convention planning room, newsletter room and also a chat room.

One of the new residents enters and sees names on these chairs too: Marty, Gladys, Patsi, Bob L , and Robyn. There's a special looking chair with “Special Guest” written on it. This is occupied only occasionally for special chats.

Bobeee Claus then invites the new residents into a large auditorium. Here they were greeted by Elf Curtis, who is in charge of the listening devices. The new residents are curious about the listening devices. Elf Curtis takes the time to explain what they are. He explains first the door flasher that they saw when they first arrived. Then about the phone flashers, TDD’s and FM systems like the one Bobeee Claus uses. Elf Curtis matches the new residents with devices according to their hearing losses. The new residents are so happy to be be able to communcate in spite of not being able to hear.

Soon other residents arrive. They pick up what they need to be able to hear. CART and interpreters are on hand also.

Once the meeting starts, Bobeee Claus stands and says, “Fellow SayWhat residents, I welcome you all here to share the joy that we are not alone in our hearing losses. We fill up this room with people that are like ourselves with hearing loss no matter whether it be a mild loss or a profound loss. We also are here to rejoice in the diversity where we all come from different ways of living. We rejoice in the support we all give to each other in the time of need.”

This is followed by singing holiday songs with words projected via CART on a screen so all can see. Everyone has a good time singing or signing the songs. No one cares if anyone is off key. It's a time where everyone is accepted.

It grows closer to time for Bobeee Claus to make his yearly trip. Elf Curtis has the sleigh filled with hearing devices. Elf Neil puts his book on Ototoxic drugs in the sleigh. And Elf Shawn adds to the pile his book on “ I lost my WHAT” for people who are new to hearing loss and how to cope with it. All of the members begin singing :

Here comes Bobeee Claus, here comes Bobeee Claus

Right down SayWhat Lane

Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer

pullin' on the reins.

Bells are flashin', children dancin'

All is merry and bright.

Hang your stocking and ( if you want) say your prayers

'Cause Bobeee Claus comes tonight!


Here come Bobeee Claus, here comes Bobeee Claus

Right down SayWhat Lane

He’s got a bag that's filled with devices

for the boys and girls again

See those sleigh bells jingle jangle

Oh what a beautiful sight

So jump in bed and cover your head

'Cause Bobeee Claus come tonight!


Here comes Bobeee Claus, here comes Bobeee Claus

Right down SayWhat Lane

He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor

He loves you all the same.

Bobeee Claus knows we all have hearing loss

That makes everything right.

So fill your hearts with holiday cheer

'Cause Bobeee Claus comes tonight!


Well, Bobeee was touched by everyone’s support. He hopped into the sleigh and as he rode out of sight, he said: “Happy Hearing to all and to all a Good Night”.


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