You have a whole new reason to dread the holidays

www-gifcreator-me_birjwjIf you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is coming. I know it’s a total surprise. With Christmas there are family gatherings. I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting the regular holiday meal questions. It feels a little like a Doge meme.

gluten-doge

We’re doing both the hosting and the visiting this year. With a new house, everyone is curious about it, so people want to come over. At the same time Christmas is finally on a weekend, meaning I can honestly get time off from my job to visit family over the holiday. With this comes the all of the normal pitfalls of not eating in your own home. To say I’m a little stressed, is an understatement.

Part of being a Celiac is the need to control your environment, and when you go to someone else’s house there is no control. You have no idea what the last 5 things cut on the cutting board were. Or if someone used that butter to make toast that morning. And the difference between going to a restaurant and to your family or friend’s house is the potential to offend. You can give a server a big tip when you put them through their paces, but bringing your own food to Christmas dinner and someone might be upset for the year to come. Personally, if you have to deal with the cooking for a family as large as my extended family, it’s better to not have to deal with all of the individual dietary restrictions, and we have a lot. To compound it with my needs to control every spoon transfer and keeping wheat away from every article. I’m just cooking something for myself to make it less stressful on you.

family

Then you add to it the family members that just want to help…oh the possibility to offend someone is VERY HIGH! Is this going to keep me from going, heck no, I want to see my family. Am I going to go to the bathroom and wash my hands all day long…you bet. I’ll also keep an eye on my cups and drinks and wipe off my plates and pretty much anything else that I can do to keep from getting sick over the weekend.

The weekend of New Years, we’re hosting Christmas for my husband’s family at out house. They have one big tradition for Christmas, and that’s Christmas cookies, gluteny glcookie-theroyuteny Christmas cookies. We bring gluten into the house sometimes, but those are controlled moments and my husband does all of the clean up. These Christmas cookies get left out all weekend, because my husband’s family likes to graze. That means grab a cookie and eat and move around the house and touch things. So, another weekend, I will need to just make sure that I wash my hands a lot and clean the house really well afterwards.

And you better believe I’m going to be making all of the GF cookies to eat that weekend and they’re getting stored in the fridge.

Not having navigated through this before (last year was a Christmas at home and a trip to my Celia-Sissy and brother-in-law’s house)  I have no idea what lessons I’m going to learn going out to visit our family members. My mom is…excited…(I think) to try and accommodate me. Or maybe it’s more of the making sure her baby is not being left out. Still, it’s a couple of weekends of experimenting. The husband keeps reminding me that all of the questions are good, because she’s trying to understand and make sure that I’ll be safe. I know she’ll do a good job, it’s just a learning experience. She has to learn a whole new allergy (of sorts) and something that she hasn’t had to do before.

You know, all of this sounded so much less experimental and scary months ago when we made the plans. As it’s approaching, I’m startling to look at the details of what it’s going to entail, and I think I need more planning. Can we push Christmas back a couple of weeks like to maybe next year? I think I’ll be ready by then.

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If you don’t say something, it’s your own fault

So did you know that the Holiday Spice Flat White has gluten in it? I didn’t? I drank it for about a week before I got really sick and figured it out. Seriously, Flat White, totally fine, that holiday sprinkle, it knocked me out of commission for a whole week. Starbucks won’t tell anyone what is really in their drinks, and anyone who has tried to get a straight answer about what contains gluten in it knows how tight lipped they are about allergens. Now they have signs up on their stores staying that they can’t guarantee that allergens won’t be transferred. Yeah, we knew that, no one is going to sue you.

Really.

I have gotten to the point that, if I get glutened, it is all m fault. Usually I wasn’t careful enough. I tried going somewhere I didn’t know was safe. I didn’t communicate my needs enough. I didn’t send back my food once I noticed it wasn’t right. Seriously, if I don’t say something or forget to do my gluten spiel, it’s all my own fault.

Then again, I have a sense of personal responsibility.

You hear about companies getting sued for all sorts of things. From this year’s claims of false advertising for No Man’s Sky to the man who spilled hot coffee on his lap and sued McDonalds, almost every lawsuit against a company can be traced back to people who just didn’t think. If you wait 3 years for a video game that promises you a giant universe and unlimited explorations, and delivers just that but in a game that just isn’t that fun, might it not be your expectations about what the end product that really were to blame. What about coffee makes you think that it isn’t going to be hot? And yet, you are suprised that it burns you badly when you pill it on yourself. And if you go to a restaurant and don’t say, “I need an allergy warning all over this order,” it’s not the restaurants fault that they didn’t follow it.

I don’t tend to tell Starbucks that I need gluten free. I really should, but I don’t. But that’s not really what happened this week. This was my not really researching.

There have been other incidents where I haven’t said anything. I know that the seasoning salt at Red Robin makes me sick, and there’s been time where I’ve found it on my food and didn’t say anything. Mostly because I just don’t want to make trouble. And yet, I get sick. My husband always gauges if I’m going to be sick based on if the rest of the order is correct. If there’s one thing wrong with the order, like pickles on his burger, it raises the chance that someone wasn’t careful with my order.

So, there’s more than just saying something when you order your food. You really need to make sure you say something when you get your food too. I hate having to be the bitch, that demands everything be their way. I come from people who avoid conflict and try to find the path of least resistance. It’s been hard to un-learn all of those traits over the last two years. And yet, it’s the way I am able to eat outside of my house. I personally don’t want to spend the rest of the life eating just in my house, so I do it.

You don’t really have to be demanding. I usually start with apologizing, that usually helps. And being nice, like really nice, helps too. Working in customer service, I’ve learned the importance of not rocking the boat when asking for something. Honestly if you come on the line yelling at me, I’m going to hold the line because I feel like your being unreasonable. If you come on the line apologizing, and being nice as you explain the issue, I’ll feel bad and try and help you more. If your complaint is also really justified, I’ll really work hard to resolve your request.

I find the same goes when I’m at a restaurant. It’s rare to find a server who doesn’t like being around people. So if you see something wrong, and say something about it, they won’t have a problem. If the server has a problem with it, then you should be speaking with the manager anyway. The server is a liaison between the diner and the kitchen. They’re paid to be your advocate, so if something is wrong it’s their job to deal with it. I just am nice to them also, because I want them to work harder for me when I need it. Customer service isn’t easy, and they’re listening to complaints all day long. You don’t have to be mean to get your way, you just have to explain yourself.

So, don’t be afraid to speak up. Speak up and be nice about it. Because not speaking up means you will get sick, and the only person who you can really blame if yourself.