January 9th, 2010

Oh the holidays. A time when everyone gets together and eats too much, gorging on sugar cookies with butter cream frosting, rocky road fudge, almond bark pretzels, rum cake…..and that’s just for breakfast!

This year was different however. This year food allergies and medical issues reared their ugly heads and almost everyone in the household had something they couldn’t eat.

With each arrival to my family home, there were more and more things that had to be avoided worked around or segregated so as to not contaminate someone else.

On the list of things people couldn’t eat:
Chocolate
Caffeine
Pepper
Walnuts
Tomatoes
Dairy
Alcohol
Wheat (gluten)
Apricots
Grapes
Mushrooms

What exactly was left that we could all eat? A turkey but no gravy? Vegetables but no butter? Pumpkin pie but no crust? Egg, but no nog?

Bear in mind I said these are things that people COULDN’T eat, not didn’t want to eat. We’re not talking any odd diets (that will come later). We’re talking about food their bodies cannot currently tolerate.

My sister and I are the ones with the gluten intolerance: no traditional stuffing, gravy, pie crust, dinner rolls, etc for us.

For me, the almond bark covered pretzels were the thing that kept calling my name. I knew it was bad when I was fantasizing about covering sesame crackers with stuff that is little better nutritionally than flavored liquid paraffin!

My mother, on the other hand, was on a “white” diet: no spice, no whole wheat, no pepper, caffeine or alcohol….sucks to be her.

On 12/23 a mini food war almost broke out when someone in the house asked if we were going to be eating our “traditional” Christmas Eve dinner: chili and cornbread.

My sister and I stared at each other in disbelief. Hello? No spice? No gluten? No way! There might have only been 2 people in the household that could have actually eaten that meal.

Due to health issues my parents were mostly housebound during this holiday season. My sister and I were the ones doing the shopping. Every time we’d go out my father would ask us to pick up bologna and white dinner rolls.

My sister and I, admittedly, have some eating quirks. As such we could not understand why the heck anyone would want to eat full fat pork bologna.

Twice, we forgot it and the dinner rolls. We did not purposely forget. I mean we didn’t sit there and discuss the fact that we weren’t going to pick them up. However, people in the house began to eye us suspiciously when we returned without the requested items.

Then: Christmas Eve sailed in on the wings of an ice storm.

As the ice and snow mounted tension around the Christmas Eve & Christmas dinner meals rose as well, “Are we eating chili for dinner?”

“No one can eat it!” I responded, testy.

“Well I can!” Came the snappy response.

“You’d be the only one!”

Another “discussion” broke out. Certain individuals were threatening to get out on the slick roads in order to get the @#$% dinner rolls. My sister and I had already promised to meet a friend at a local restaurant for lunch. We assured the household that we would pick up the stupid dinner rolls.

“Like you’ve done every time you’ve gone to the grocery store?” Was shot back at us as we left.

As we’re standing at the lunch meat counter of the neighborhood grocery story I picked up a 2 lb log of bologna and measure the weight of it in my hand.

“Don’t you think he wants pre-sliced?” My sister asks.

“I was thinking more of a slap upside the head,” I say, deadpan.

She stares for a moment and then we break up with laughter, like the 12 year olds we used to be, giggling all the way to the register with our 8 oz of Oscar Meyer pre-sliced Bologna and white bread rolls!

The moral of this story? The holiday season is not the time to try and change people’s eating habits. On the other hand: sometimes people can’t help the food “choices” they’re making. A little tolerance practiced by all would be a good thing.

Do me a favor: tell me my family isn’t the only one with strange food hang ups tied to holiday meals.

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