We can pick our friends but we can’t pick our families and when you’re dealing with food allergies and intolerances over the holidays, you might just want to hang out with your friends. What is it about food allergies that can cause so many family feuds?
And why is it that all holidays between Halloween and Easter are excessively celebrated with food? From US Thanksgiving on Thursday through to Christmas especially, every get together is frought with minefields that we must safely navigate. These holidays can be the most stressful of all, especially if you gather with family who just don’t understand the severity of your needs. Is it any wonder that some of us just want to hibernate?
I’m the first to say that I’ve been really lucky in that I have great family on both sides who take our family’s food allergies very seriously when we’re visiting. Everybody always goes out of their way to make sure that the food is safe and that we have lots of choice. It’s what has allowed us to sanely navigate our way through many a pot luck family reunion. Even if extended family is not on board, we’ve always been able to enjoy ourselves with what’s available to us from our closest family, away from the main food serving area.
But I’ve heard horror stories ranging from the grandma who leaves the bowl of peanuts out on the coffee table near an allergic toddler to the sister-in-law who gets offended when you can’t eat her wheat laden house specialty. Is it worth it to even go to a family member’s house if they just don’t get it? Will they ever get it? If so, what does it take? If not, is it easier said than done to write them off?
I find Valentine’s Day stressful with food allergies. In the past, when our allergic child was in elementary school, I found it to be the most stressful day of all. It all came to a head when Megan was in grade 4 and Valentine’s Day became a food buffet of everything she couldn’t eat laid out in front of her. Score in her head? Other kids: 30 treats, Me: 2 Read more »
My heart is feeling 2 sizes too small these days. I may not be green but I seem to be feeling the same biological issue affecting one of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters. It’s not that I want to steal Christmas but that I’m feeling like I’d rather avoid it altogether.
I’ll be hosting my side of the family which is the first time we’ll all be together in the 7 years since we moved from Alberta to Vancouver Island. The distance was just too great to drive over the wintery Rocky Mountains for 15 hours to my sister’s house and 17 hours to my parents’ house and too costly to afford airfare along with everything else that comes with Christmas. But this year we all decided to make sure we could get together since my eldest nephew will be out of high school this year and most likely moving on to other things. It was time to bite the bullet and be in the same place.
Add to our family of 10 the French exchange student that we’ll have for Christmas (don’t ask, it seemed like a good idea at the time) and we’ll have 11 people in the house for a week, 5 of them teenagers.
I’m now working on Christmas presents for the family and the French student along with planning meals and baking, all a bunch of things I haven’t had to worry about for years. So I’m starting to feel the Grinch as I worry about what food is coming to our house and planning dairy free meals for our French student along with all of the allergy issues we always deal with.
I’m sure it will work out just fine but I forgot how stressful it can be, right at the time when society’s expectation is that we’re joyful. Guess it’s time to get rid of the Grinch and channel my inner Who.
As I wrote last week, the birthday party my allergic daughter was invited to was coming up fast. Given that it was an outdoor party with young teens/tweens, we had to do a quick education process about feeling unwell outside, buddying with a friend, not going to the bathroom or to find an adult alone if not feeling well and to self administer the epi-pen as necessary.
So who was more nervous when we went to the party? You guessed it, me! The screaming gaggle of teenagers that were waiting in the driveway for my child to arrive whisked her away as soon as she stepped out of the car. The young host of the party extricated her and escorted her inside to his parents and to put down her waterfight gear. I’d already touched base with the parental units on food, etc. These parents also have children with food allergies and intolerances to wheat and dairy which we’d discussed in the previous years as our children grew up together.
So why did I feel panicky and feel the tears well up as I drove away? Despite all of my best efforts to keep fears at bay, there are just times that I think an allergic parent feels the enormity of the hand we’ve been dealt more keenly than others. I try not to dwell on it too often otherwise we would put our child in a bubble and she’d have no life at all. My husband and I are cautious to mitigate the risks but sometimes we do have to realize that those risks can’t be completely controlled by anyone, no matter how careful we are. That’s true for sending our kids out into the world whether they have allergies or not.
I just don’t ever want to feel like I should have done more.