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Holiday Decorating When You’re Young at Heart & Physically Disabled

Holiday Decorating When Physically Disabled


Was 2023 a turning point for you? It was for me. At the beginning of this year, I had two serious injuries that triggered excruciating pain, and limited mobility, and stability. Almost everything in my life needed adjustment. If you get my drift, you know how utterly annoying it is to reach for or drop something out of reach. And seriously, don’t get me started with using the toilet.

“With Christmas just around the corner, I needed (yes, needed!) to decorate so that I could see and feel the joy of the holidays in my home.”

To manage getting around my single-story home, I needed a 4-wheeled, seated walker and all sorts of other medical aids. I purchased three long-handled “grabber reachers” like the ones you see community service workers use to pick trash on the side of the road.

With Christmas just around the corner, I needed (yes, needed!) to decorate so that I could see and feel the joy of the holidays in my home.

All my grandchildren live within 20 minutes from me (and two within walking distance) so we frequently spend time together. They’ve become accustomed to my home being decorated for holidays. My friends have also come to expect whimsical tablescapes and other rooms featuring ornamental nooks. Figuring out how to manage this when I’m not able to drive myself due to one of the injuries affecting my right leg and shoulder, I thought others might like to learn how I managed to continue my decorating traditions.

Three years ago, I reorganized my garage which no longer contains my car. Sound familiar? After throwing away multiple bags of unused items and donating carloads full of this and that, I was able to place all decorating and tablescaping materials in plastic containers on shelving. Labeling everything was of tremendous value when asking others to bring in containers from the garage. Each container was set in the appropriate room which allowed me to easily assemble how I wanted everything to look. I had a friend come over and help me. She was very good at taking my directions and added a few of her suggestions as well.

I was able to try a couple of new decorating ideas and loved the way they turned out. For the living room coffee table, I placed artificial eucalyptus branches that I just purchased from Wayfair (free shipping!) for a nature and bird-themed tablescape.

The branches were used as the base for my reindeer centerpiece and came with lights which fortunately were on a timer. I’m happy I don’t have to try and turn them on daily. They turn on each evening at 5:00 PM along with the gold-trimmed pillar candles and turn off just before I leave the room for bedtime. On one corner of the coffee table are two tall gold sequined cones and on the opposite corner I placed a gold sleigh filled with red and green Heresy’s kisses.

“The final touch was the hot chocolate station for the kitchen which was a new addition and my grandchildren love it.”

The dining room tablescape was easy to set since most of the items I used were in previous years. The only new purchases were the three pillar candles with the green etched trees, the red plaid table runner, (both purchased from Amazon) the red and black plaid dinner plates (purchased from Hobby Lobby.) The three green etched pillar candles provided a warm light and a bright pop of green to offset all the red. They also bring out the green trees on the gnome plates. The little gnome napkin rings, which I purchased along with the plates from Pottery Barn several years ago, are a favorite of visitors.

The final touch was the hot chocolate station for the kitchen which was a new addition and my grandchildren love it. The Hot Cocoa Bar wood wall décor caught my eye while searching online for dinner plates at Hobby Lobby. I’m so happy that just about anything I wanted was shipped to my door. The glass canister jars were delivered from Amazon along with the individually wrapped miniature candy canes. The jolly Santa Claus and the light plaid MERRY sign I’ve had for many years.

To recap, the tips for decorating, when you’re not physically strong or able, are simply this:

1.   Shop online

2.   Ship items to your home

3.   Have your stored items organized so that when you can ask for help people can locate what you are looking for

4.   Have a friend or two to help you

I hope you find, as I do, that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life. Holiday decorating is one of those little ephemeral things.

Even if you are someone with broken body parts or need help, that shouldn’t mean your holidays are without beauty and joy. Holiday times are what create memories and make us feel lifted and joyful.

With the very best intentions, I offer this advice, if you’re feeling a little blue and need to lift your spirits, put on your favorite holiday music station, invite a few friends over for a warm cup of hot cocoa and a bit of your love.

Happy holidays and cheers!

Read more from Pat Burns and see some of her vintage tablescapes here

Pat Burns

About the author

Pat Burns is the co-founder of the Orange County Children's Book Festival, a celebrity journalist, film reviewer and a consultant for nonprofits

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