Food Allergy Experience

Thanksgiving: Lost and Found

The night before Thanksgiving I sat at my table planning my meal and felt sentimental. I’d made a mental note of all the things I needed to do over the next 12 hours. I’d estimated the time I’d go to bed and what time I’d need to get up. I’m set for our feast.

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Now today Thanksgiving, I’m feeling a bit sentimental this year. More so than others. Thanksgiving growing up was always a big, correction a HUGE deal. I have so many wonderful memories. You see, I grew-up in family very different from the Walton’s. I don’t have many fond memories of growing-up. Except on Thanksgiving. I loved Thanksgiving. It was a time when everyone, almost everyone was on good behavior. There were very few arguments, language was appropriate, and smiles were on everyone’s face.

I lived next door to my grandma for many years. I loved being so close to her. Thanksgiving was her time to shine! We rented out the basement of our local church. She’d spend all day baking and cooking along with the other woman in the family. They made two to three turkeys, two different stuffings and all the fixings for well over 50 people. Everyone who’d ever been part of our family came to this gathering. Heck, even those who weren’t really IN our family came. I’d spend most of the day at the church playing with my cousins or “cousins” (you see if you spent much time around us, we made you family. So I had A LOT of cousins). My grandmother shined in the role of head cook. Even when she couldn’t cook the whole meal, there was never any question who was in charge of the kitchen. I looked forward to being one of those woman, taking on the responsibility of cooking and cleaning.

Then one holiday season, my grandmother passed away. She was the anchor of the family. People drove long distances to see her and eat her food. During that unfortunate holiday season, my Thanksgiving was lost. The large family gatherings were gone. My grandmother, the queen of the kitchen, no longer ruled. I had to find a new Thanksgiving.

And I did. We started a tradition of the Day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner. We had all of our friends come over on black Friday and I cooked a turkey and ham. And don’t forget all the fixin’s. I loved it! Not only was I cooking and entertaining for 50 or so people but I had the opportunity to see friends I’d not seen for most of the year.  It was great!

Then kids came. With my daughter I kept up the tradition for a couple of years until the year my mom was sick. I stopped. Really just intended to not do it that one year since there was so much on my plate. But then my Little Guy was born during the summer. Although we didn’t know his Thanksgiving about his food allergies, we weren’t sleeping much. I honestly didn’t have the energy to try the meal. That year my husband and I decided we were not in the season of life to be hosting a large dinner. Secretly, I was devastated. My Thanksgiving was once again lost.

I felt more frustration and devastation once we found out about Max’s food allergies. I felt like my Thanksgiving dream was completely gone. And that first year, it was. I was so focused on making traditional food. I worked twice as hard as I’d ever worked cooking and baking for 50. I clung to my dream. I knew I could do it. Looking back now, I see my Thanksgiving ideal was lost.

Now, three years into food allergies, I’ve found a new Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s not the one I’d originally wanted. Yes, some of the usual food had to be forgotten or re-designed. But that’s OK. My new Thanksgiving Day is me cooking a bird and safe food for my little, wonderfully imperfect immediate family. No there’s no large, loud family or friend gatherings. I am content. I am blessed. I am grateful. I’ve found my new Thanksgiving.

Isn’t it funny how we start off one way and God takes us another. Through some tears and feeling lost, he puts us back on the path. He’d helped me to adapt and create a new tradition. It’s not the same as a few years ago, but it is good. In a few years, our tradition may change and we may be comfortable with the Little Guy’s allergies to start planning large gatherings again. However, until then, I’m enjoying this holiday just the way it is.

Just like Thanksgiving, our lives have changed because of the food allergies. Sometimes it’s frustrating and tiring. Sometimes I feel like I can’t manage. But then I’m reminded that I can. I can handle this. Life is different, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I am grateful for the challenge of food allergies. I am giving thanks for my learning opportunity.

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I’m going to enjoy a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Remember, our plans may change but we can always find a new Thanksgiving!

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1 Comment

  1. Life changes in an instant. You have fond memories and are now creating new ones. Our new ones include the dinner at my house because I can’t go into my mom and dad’s house any more without a mask and stay very long at all. This year was a big change because not only did my younger daughter not make it (she is now living out of state) but my older daughter is now rotating Thanksgiving because it is a drive to come to my house and too much on the same day or having two days of dinners. This year was to be my mom and dad and my sister. Dad’s blood pressure dropped drastically and he wasn’t feeling well. We made it work by my sister going and taking dinner for her and my dad and my mom ate with us. While not perfect, we make things work. You are a wonderful mother and are making whatever changes are necessary to make your Thanksgiving work.

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