The endemic-ness of COVID has brought back time-honored traditions where families can once again cram into kitchens and celebrate the holiday season.
These joyous occasions, however, can be significantly less joyous for allergy parents who face a proverbial mine field of potential catastrophes.
Leading up to holiday travel you can count on us to have Googled the five closest hospitals, packed trusted meals that we can carry around like a mobile Scrooge McDuckian bin of safe foods, and checked, double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked that our Epi-pen is on hand in case we need to whip it out like a Western-era gun slinger.
Getting there is only part of the battle. Once nestled by the fireplace, we will engage in catch-up conversations while watching eagle-eyed for every crumb of food that falls from the table.
If that isn’t enough, we will encounter at least one of the following relatives as we watch the clock slowly tick away, hoping that we can get through one more family event without turning into a trip to the emergency room.
Dr. Not a Doctor: Despite zero medical credentials, they are confident your kid is going to grow out of this allergy, but maybe I should look into those shots just in case. Dr. Not a Doctor may or may not also subscribe to homeopathic remedies, even though we know tea tree oil cannot, in fact, cure everything.
The Unending Questioner: Yes, you can absorb allergies through the skin. No, I can’t just give him Benadryl and call it a night. Yes, peanuts and tree nuts are different. No, I haven’t had to use the Epi-pen yet and I really hope I don’t have to. Ever!
High Anxiety: The most well intended of your clan, but an exasperation none the less. So nervous about anything bad happening that ever single label is thrust into your face. To read and reread, even though you’ve established that Goldfish are totally cool years ago.
Somehow This is a Parenting Competition: It’s awesome that your cousin had three beautiful children have absolutely zero issues with food. Yes, it’s a shame that my kid could turn into a human pufferfish if they accidentally eat a peanut. If only he wasn’t a shining example of health and perfection like your little darlings.
Silent But Judge-y: This relative speaks in sighs and raised eyebrows. They sneer and sip their wine as you try to plow a path to the microwave to heat your kid’s meal, or lets out an exasperated exhale as you pass over dish after dish. It’s cool, we will send an “I don’t like you either” sigh your way once we’ve survived dessert.
The Forgetful Cook: The family member who always insists that they followed every guideline to making an allergy-safe desert, that is until they remember that the dairy free cake was made with a yogurt substitute.
So, to fellow allergy parents out there, don’t worry. We have you covered with allergy free snacks.
To relatives of allergy parents, we love you. We want to be here and celebrate, but it’s extra stressful and exhausting ensuring that our child stays food safe. So, please show a little compassion, hug us a little tighter, and be sure to pour us an extra glass at wine at the dinner table. We are going to need it.
By Josette Hammerstone Huber