Interviews with People with Diverse Abilities: Christmas Edition 2017

Written by Artist/Reporter/Santa
Jeff Stackhouse

I recently got the great opportunity to spend a Christmas evening at the mall with a friend with a diverse ability and wanted to share the interview with all Self Advocates to give hope and laughter at this very special time of year.

First Ryan and I looked at every beautifully decorated Christmas tree at “Trees Of Hope” at Sevenoaks Mall in Abbotsford and then voted on our favorite.

After looking around the mall at all of the Christmas displays and shops, we sat down for a festive meal at the food court and began a Christmas interview focusing on diverse ability.

Santa Jeff: Ho Ho Ho Ryan. How are you?

Ryan: Great Santa Jeff.  I love Christmas.

SJ: Oh great! I do too! My reindeer are almost ready for the big night on Christmas Eve. I hope I will get you the right gift. What would you like for Christmas?

R: I would love to have a nice mug that I could drink my hot chocolate out of this lovely Christmas season.

SJ: Not a problem I will get to work on that for you Ryan… Since I am Santa I should ask what you like most about Christmas.

R: I love giving gifts and love seeing people open up the gifts I give them.

SJ: HO HO HO!!! Yes my friend that is what I love most of all too!

SJ: What makes Christmas special and fun for you?

R: I like to get up early Christmas morning and run downstairs and see all the gifts
from Santa under the tree, then I start to open my gifts and my whole family is happy and smiles.

SJ: What events do you like to attend most during your holidays? Santa Train? CP Holiday Train? High street Treelighting? Downtown Abbotsford Winter Jubilee?

R: I like going to all of it. It makes me happy seeing the nice Christmas decorations and the beautiful huge trees. I haven’t been on the Santa Train yet but it’s awesome that it’s free with a toy. CP train sounds cool too. I like to go to all of the events  in the Abbotsford and Mission areas including the Mission Candlelight Parade.

SJ: I understand you have many diverse abilities Ryan? What are they?

R: I like to bowl for Special Olympics, work for Total Green and Chances Casino, and also like to take photos for the Abbotsford-Mission Boxing Association.

SJ: Wow that’s great Ryan. Seems like you do a lot every day and keep busy.

R: Yes it’s great to make extra money as well.

SJ: HO HO HO so true my little elf.  So just curious about what Christmas means to you personally?

R: It means great times with family and friends, time to reflect on the year, and time to prepare for a new beginning in 2018.

SJ: I’ll ask a bunch of rapid fire Christmas questions now for our speed round. What is your favorite Christmas treat? What do you eat on Christmas day? Do you have a real Christmas tree? Do you go to church at Christmas time?  Is the mall too busy for you at Christmas? How does living with a diverse ability challenge you at Christmas?

R: Wow that’s a lot of questions about Christmas but I will answer you Santa Jeff.  My favorite treat is Starbucks Peppermint Mocha coffee and McDonald’s new Peppermint Christmas Brownie and Gingerbread Blondie,  I have a fake tree, ( the landlord banned real trees) , I love church at Christmas, especially the children’s play, the mall is too busy but I still go shopping for my family.  Having a diverse-ability is normal all times of the year, and at Christmas.

SJ: Oh lovely answers to all questions, very true, very normal.  Opps forgot a question. What is your favorite store to buy Christmas gifts in?

R: Macy’s in the USA at Bellis Fair Mall in Washington

SJ: Oh wow! Sounds really nice. I love being in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Such a great store!

SJ: Ok biggest and most important question of the bunch and the final question of the interview. What is your favorite Christmas movie of all –time?

R: That’s easy you star in it Santa Jeff.  “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever” is the best Christmas movie ever made.

SJ: Have to agree with you there. It was fun to make that one, and Grumpy Cat was so fun to have on set.  Glad you put it at the top of your Christmas movie list.

That makes me HO-HO –Happy.  I will tell Grumpy Cat you liked it.  She will hate that. LOL.

R: Thanks for interviewing me this year Santa Jeff.

SJ: You are very welcome Ryan you are on my nice list this year.

And with a flash and a nod of Santa’s head, the interview was over and Ryan went home to bed.

What a great time we had talking and reminiscing about Christmas past and present and we hope this helps all people of all abilities understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Ryan and I want to wish all Self Advocates a very happy and healthy Christmas 2017 and New Years 2018.  We are thinking of you all at this special time of year.

Merry Christmas from Ryan the Elf and from yours truly,

Santa Jeff

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