Ah, the holiday season…
A supposedly wonderful time reserved for family, friends, and never-ending get togethers. It is a time for making plans, exchanging gifts, and gorging on all of the food until you hate yourself. During the months of November and December, people come alive and finally consider putting the less fortunate first. In fact, most donations are made during the last few months of the year, hence them often being referenced as the “Giving Season.” With all of these warm, fuzzy feelings and selfless acts of generosity, you are probably wondering how anyone could possibly be disappointed, spiteful, and extremely awkward during this gracious time period.
UNLESS… they didn’t get the present they wanted, are single during the holidays when everyone else is paired up in the happiest couples ever, or have to refuse eating various delicious dishes at almost every holiday get together because people tend to add nuts to every other dish because they are more festive that way. I don’t know, I’m just assuming the reason. Now, I have been all of these at some point or another within my 27 years of life, but luckily never all three at the same time (the last two together was one hell of a combo though).
The point is that there is always a reason to not want to celebrate, to not want to spend time with people, and to not feel so joyous during the holiday season. Now, I understand that compared to others, my issues above seem quite superficial and mundane (like, compared to the homeless who have to struggle just to find something to eat, or the single parent family home that is struggling just to give each child a present, let alone put food on the table), but my message is the same on all accounts. If you’re going to be generous during this season, you also have to be considerate. It doesn’t matter the situation, you can’t be effectively generous without being considerate of people’s circumstances.
Like, don’t give a homeless person a bunch of canned foods unless you include a can opener. Don’t give them foods that will spoil easily and need refrigeration. Don’t give them anything physically heavy, that they can’t carry around without getting tired. Makes sense right? Well, same goes for any other situation. Don’t give other people’s children gifts that the parents don’t approve of. If the parents don’t approve, you just wasted your money because that kid will never see that gift again. If a homeless shelter is taking donations, don’t give things that are so damaged, no one else could use them. Now, here’s a personal example that isn’t quite awful, but still inconsiderate. Some people like to gift baked goods for the holidays because it is a sentimental gesture of love. Like, “Look! I’m too poor to actually buy anyone anything, so I’m going to mass produce these cookies and hand them out to everyone because the sentiment comes in the fact that I spent my time doing something FOR YOU! SEE HOW GREAT I AM?!!?” Coming from me, this actually isn’t a sarcastic statement. I am actually guilty of doing all of that, and more. I’m not very proud of it, but I love to bake. Why not be proud about what comes out of my oven? That shit is dope if I don’t mess it up. Anyways, one time I was gifted some baked goods that contained peanut butter. Now, I appreciated the fact that I was thought about, but what was I supposed to do with them? I couldn’t eat them. I wouldn’t even bring them into my home. You know what I did? I gave them to the next homeless person I saw because they would benefit more from those cookies than I EVER would. Because I would have died. The same thing goes for gifting or giving anything else to anyone else. BE CONSIDERATE.
This message also carries over to get togethers. If you are feeling generous or the host asks you to bring a dish, be considerate of what you are bringing to the table. Anything that contains common food allergens are not highly recommended. At least 15 million people suffer from a food allergy. Over 300,000 ambulatory care visits are due to children under the age of 18 coming in contact with their allergen. As the age increases, the number decreases to about 30,000. These numbers might not seem like much (that’s 1 in every 1000 people will receive ambulatory care for an allergy related incident, roughly), but it’s different when you have to personally deal with it and no one wants the thought of spending the holidays in the back of an ambulance or in a hospital room becoming a reality. Luckily, the occurrence of meeting a person who has a certain food allergy depends on what that reactive food allergen is. You are more likely to meet someone who has a peanut allergy (because it is the most common allergy), than someone who has a dairy or egg allergy. In fact, the second and third most common allergens are tree nuts and shell fish respectively. So, that’s why it is more or less okay to bring dishes that have dairy or eggs in it. In fact, most holiday dishes contain the less harmful allergens or no allergens at all, such as the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (dairy), green bean casserole (dairy), pumpkin pie (eggs), the list goes on and on. Literally, outside of pecan pie, there aren’t very many dishes that contain peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish (unless you’re, like, Italian, and you are celebrating the holidays with the Feast of the Seven Fishes). So why am I even writing this post then?!
Well, people like to add a bit of flair to their recipes and in order to spice up or add texture to a dish, they’ll add peanuts or tree nuts. Why? Because reasons. I can’t tell you, nothing makes me more mad than being told the pumpkin pie has a pecan crust or the green bean casserole has toasted, chopped walnuts for a bit of crunch or the stuffing has roasted almond slices just because. NO! That’s not how this works and you know it! Why do you do this!?
And I understand that some people just enjoy the taste, texture, and health benefits of nuts. I don’t know why, but they do, and if it were any other time of the year, I wouldn’t be typing this essay. In fact, I would be yelling, “DO YOU!” from the inside of my nut free bubble. BUT, it’s the holidays! I would like to spend some time with my family and friends, and I’m sure other people would too. This is the time of the year where people are feeling generous, giving, and it’s the same time of the year where these issues should be taken into strong consideration. People need to be aware of what’s in whatever they decide to bring to the table. So, if you are ever invited to a dinner party, the nice thing to do is ask, “Will anyone with food allergies be there?” and “What kind of allergies do they have?” or “What are they allergic to?” Even after that, if you do decide to bring something that does contain a common allergen (peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish), keep it separate from the rest of the holiday offerings. You can either make a little note or tell the host so they can make an announcement of what’s in your dish. As a person with allergies, we don’t want to spend half of our time hunting down every single person who brought something and ask them what’s in it. We want to spend that time eating and laughing with everyone else. It’s easier to have that visual separation between dishes. Or, if you are the host, ask your guests to mindful during this celebratory time. If you know someone who has an allergy, tell people that that person will be in attendance so they know. And if your host asks you to be mindful of their guests, don’t be a dick about it. It’s the holidays for fucks sake. Calm you shit, and just not put nuts in anything. You can do that, right? Not make everything about you, and show some respect for others. It’s possible right?