Don’t Feel Sorry for Me and My Son Because We Have Food Allergies


For the third year, this Thanksgiving I’ll be passing on the creamy green bean casserole, the buttery praline sweet potatoes, and the hearty sage stuffing that reminds me of my grandmother. My son and I have food allergies and no time of year makes us more aware that we’re a little bit different from everyone else than the holidays. Though it’s not what they’re really about, you can’t help but associate holidays with certain foods. We all have our favorite dishes that come with fond memories. Whether they remind us of home or childhood, traditions or celebrations, food is more than physical nourishment.

This is the time of year my son and I could really feel sorry for ourselves. We could focus on all the things we can’t have and feel sad about the emptiness on our plates as we watch other plates pass us by, filled to the brim with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn casserole, and steaming hot dinner rolls. We could ask that others change their recipes or alter their menu to cater to our needs. But we don’t. We don’t ask for special treatment, we don’t ask others to feel bad for us, and we most certainly don’t feel sorry for ourselves.

While I would love to bite into my mom’s notoriously sinfully delicious crème de menthe brownies, it’s not worth wasting the mental energy to feel sorry for myself. I’ll survive without them. My family will still be sitting around the dinner table together, sharing laughs and stories and uninterrupted quality time. My son and I know we could sit at the table feeling ostracized as we skip over family favorites, or we could sit at that same table feeling grateful that we have family and friends to share the meal with. That we have a meal on the table. That we have choices that do fit into our needs. These are the values that I’d rather teach my son. To be grateful for what we have when so many others are wanting. To make the best of what could be perceived as a less than ideal situation. To create your own solution. Instead of staring wistfully at the apple pie we can’t dig into because of the flaky, buttery crust, we whip up our own apple pie and bring it along to share.

For years before my son came along, I was a vegetarian, meaning turkey was never the star of my Thanksgiving show. I never felt bad about it because it was a personal choice. Now that the tables have turned and I can’t eat things because they’ll make me sick, it’d be the prime opportunity to start feeling resentful and sorry for myself. Instead, I look to my son, who has never known what stuffing tastes like, who has never had my mom’s brownies or my grandma’s whipped potatoes. I look to him, as he asks for something he can have instead of whining about what he can’t, and am reminded it’s about choosing what’s good for us and not just what everybody else has. And I look to my son, knowing that I’m the one that can set the good example of staying positive and not letting such tiny, inconsequential matters bring us down, especially when there truly is so much to be thankful for.

Photo courtesy of Heather Neal via Instagram

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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