It doesn’t need to be about bah-humbug

Christmas. Holidays. Panic. Fear. Anxiety.

Why is it that when you say the word Christmas you tend to get that panic fear and anxiety?

Christmas and the holiday season is a stressful time for everyone. It’s stressful financially. Family dynamics come into play. Kids are so excited they’re making themselves sick.

Now throw in Celiac Disease or life threatening allergies.

Are you ready to hide under a blanket cowering until it’s over?

I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease a week before Christmas 4 years ago. At that time, my then-business partner had planned to have us over to her parents house for Christmas Eve. Having no family here, it was a welcome invitation. I was still new to the whole gluten-free thing and her mother went all out making food that I could eat. They treated us like family and they didn’t let on in any way any misgivings they might have about cooking gluten free. That one simple invitation made Celiac Disease okay for me. Despite the fact that the friendship has dissolved, I still hold dearly in my heart that day because that day, my disease no longer became the single most important thing. That day, I survived my first holiday get together with my disease. As an aside, her mother made this dessert.. it was some sort of cream cheese and coconut thing that still makes my mouth water thinking about and sometimes, I dream about those things.. I have no idea what they were but if you do, please please tell me so I can make them!

Fast forward 24 hours from then. We went to what would be our first holiday Christmas dinner at our neighbour’s house. J-Money was all over Christmas dinner. I truly don’t remember if we made stuffing that year, or if we just went with the flow, but 4 years later, we still have Christmas (and Thanksgiving and Easter) together and we are each others families. With 4 celiacs in attendance each year, we go all out.

Christmas eating no longer causes me stress. I actually find it welcoming to go somewhere where I can’t indulge in everything under the sun. I had always had to be careful – I have a serious shellfish allergy and holiday parties often have shrimp platters or crab dip present. But now, I eat before I go, immediately do a walk about of the food table, and no longer worry about being glutened.

If you’re newly diagnosed, know that it will become second nature to scan food, to look for labels, and to ask questions. It will no longer be as awkward to have those initial conversations about food.

Christmas. Holidays. You got this.

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