Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition

You may have figured this out by now, but I love Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Some of the most wonderful bits, in my opinion, are the songs, movies, and stories that go along with it. (You know, scary ghost stories and tales of the glories?)

So, I thought I’d share some with you. You’ve read the fairy tales; you’ve seen the Disney remakes; today, it’s time for the Christmas Edition, with a side of good cheer. Enjoy.

Note: I guest-posted a handful of these at Taste Guru’s blog today. If you’re incoming from there, you’ll want to skip straight to A Christmas Carol, with Gluten.

Santa with sleigh and reindeer

The Other Reindeer

You know Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, Rudolph, and maybe even Olive, the other reindeer. But do you recall Ceecee, the celiac reindeer? Of course you don’t; no one does. Ceecee used to laugh and call Rudolph names just like everyone else, but then something in that North Pole air activated her celiac genes. Soon, she was breaking antlers like a much older deer, spending sleigh practice in the bathroom, and struggling with sinus infections that gave her a scarlet schnoz to rival Rudy’s.

Since celiac was dramatically underdiagnosed in Santa’s Village, Ceecee never learned what was wrong—everyone told her it was probably just holiday stress. Boy, did she ever feel bad when Rudolph got to guide Santa’s sleigh, and she got cut out of even the footnotes of reindeer history.

The moral: If celiac disease has to happen to someone, it might as well be to a bully.

*

Not So Jolly and Happy

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly, happy soul, until his latent gluten sensitivity manifested itself with symptoms of depression and anxiety. After that, all he did was sit in a nearby walk-in freezer, eat frozen pizzas, and complain that he was going to melt any day now. So much for laughing and playing just the same as you and me. Mind you, as a snowman, he ought not to have had a digestive system in the first place, much less a malfunctioning one, but there you go: he really was as alive as he could be.

*

What the Grinch Really Stole

The Grinch, as you’re likely aware, hated Christmas. So much, in fact, that he tried to stop it from coming. But Dr. Seuss, as doctors often do, got a few parts of the story wrong: it wasn’t a heart, but a gut problem. The Grinch had suffered through years of gluten cross-contamination at the table of those daft little Whos, and this year, he was ready to end it.

So, he stole into Whoville and packed up all the gluten in every house, except for a crumb that was even too small for a mouse (though not, of course, too small to make him sick, had he eaten it). Okay, yes, he did get a bit carried away and nabbed a wreath or two as well. And he did pitch it off a cliff with a maniacal glint in his eye. But then he stayed up all night preparing a totally gluten-free feast—right down to the marinade on the roast beast!

By the time the Whos were rolling out of bed, the Grinch was rolling back into town, tooting his horn and distributing quinoa cookies right and left. Little Cindy Lou Who (whose stunted growth and persistent insomnia suggest she might’ve been diagnosed with celiac herself if Dr. Who hadn’t been so busy holding hands and singing nonsense with the rest of the town) beamed, and they all marveled that, even without gluten, Christmas Day was still in their grasp.

*

Almost Twelve Days of Celiac

On the first day of celiac, my doctor gave to me…a positive endoscopy.
On the second day of celiac, my doctor gave to me…uhhh. Man, we really need to work on our follow-up care.

*

Underneath the Mistletoe Last Night

No one suffers from fad diets as much as Santa Claus. Maintaining that jelly-bowl belly isn’t easy, you know, and he doesn’t ask for much: just cookies and milk, and a carrot or two for his steeds. But first the low-fat craze brought him soggy applesauce cookies; then the low-carb people started leaving him no cookies, just milk; then the vegans got into the game and started setting out cups of hemp milk (with more applesauce cookies). Now the gluten- and grain-free crowd gifts him lumpy cookielike substances that disintegrate into his beard as soon as he takes a bite. Poor guy.

Still, when I saw Santa kissing my gluten-sensitive mommy, I hoped he had indeed gotten only gluten-free goodies at all the hundreds of thousands of houses he’d visited before ours. Otherwise, I knew that Mommy, weak Mommy, would be waking up on Christmas feeling considerably less than nice.

*

Wise Career Moves

It’s a good thing Hermey became a dentist when he did, because Ceecee the reindeer was just the first in a long train of undiagnosed celiac animals and elves, none of whom could understand why they suddenly had so many cavities. Hermey was there for the fillings and root canals, and eventually, Mrs. Claus went back to school, became a gastroenterologist, and diagnosed them all. Now, if only something could be done about Santa’s awful insurance policies.

*

A Christmas Carol, with Gluten

Old Scrooge was a rotter, but he had an excuse: he felt lousy. One gloomy Christmas Eve, the ghost of his old partner Marley appeared (not a figment of Scrooge’s imagination conjured by indigestion, though you could see why he’d think so). “You’re forging a chain of symptoms that will destroy your life and your afterlife,” Marley warned.

The culprit, as you might guess, was gluten. Since Scrooge was sunk in denial, Marley ushered in some backup.

scrooge2

“I am the Gluten of Christmas Past,” said the first apparition, showing Scrooge a nightmarescape of himself on Christmases gone by: running to the toilet, lying in bed with a cool towel on his forehead, and snapping, “What right have you to be merry? What reason have you?”

The Gluten of Christmas Present came next, showing cheery scenes of Christmas dinners with nary a speck of flour, even in the pudding. The last home belonged to Scrooge’s clerk Bob, whose tiny and mysteriously ill son Tim had found considerable relief from a gluten- and caseine-free diet (though his parents could ill afford to pay the premium for such foods).

Christmas Future drove in the final nail (door, coffin, whichever you prefer): Scrooge’s tombstone. “Lymphoma,” the ghost confirmed, gloomily. “Entirely preventable.”

Scrooge awoke ready to change his ways. He called out the window to a passing boy, “What food is gluten-free?”

“Why, turkey, sir!” the boy called back.

The matter decided, Scrooge sent the boy off for a prize bird for his clerk, dumped the remnants of his (questionable) gruel in the fire, and went gluten-free immediately (because, New Year’s resolutions? Bah, humbug). Weeks into his reformed diet, Scrooge’s rage issues dissipated, and he lived charitably and gluten-free all the rest of his days.

*

Let me know your favorite Christmas stories in the comments. After that, have a happy, healthy, cross-contamination-free holiday. See you next year.

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14 thoughts on “Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition

  1. I was cracking up at these Molly! You are so creative! My 9 year old loved the first one and wants to read the rest tomorrow (he needed to go to bed)!
    I laughed out loud at the 12 Days of Celiac one!

  2. I was cracking up at these Molly! You are so creative! My 9 year old loved the first one and wants to read the rest tomorrow (he needed to go to bed)!
    I laughed out loud at the 12 Days of Celiac one!

  3. […] Food Issues blog, the winner is Based on a Sprue Story. Even though Christmas is now over, go read Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition. My personal favorite was Almost Twelve Days of […]

  4. thglutenfree says:

    Why Molly, this is marvellous! I absolutely LOVE the Scrooge remake haha

    You are a very talented writer!

    Reblogged with love 🙂

    -Kristine

  5. This is a nice idea, since it seems for those with food allergies, and especially gluten problems, every holiday is the loneliest time of the year for them, but it`s much worst at Christmas when the whole point is to hang out with family and friends. I think my pre-gluten free life I was a Scrooge, so I`m glad someone helped the poor guy out!

    • Molly says:

      TheGreatZambini—Yes, this was my first holiday with celiac and it went pretty well, because overall I have a very understanding and caring family. But there were definitely moments when I felt like the odd one out…mostly when I was eating “my” special food that we’d hidden off in a separate room for my sister and me, the gluten-free eaters, away from all the gluten and crumby hands. It was a good way to do it, cross-contamination-wise, but definitely reinforced the feeling of isolation.

      I hope you had a happy, non-Scroogelike time this year!

    • Molly says:

      Yes, this was my first holiday with celiac and it went pretty well, because overall I have a very understanding and caring family. But there were definitely moments when I felt like the odd one out…mostly when I was eating “my” special food that we’d hidden off in a separate room for my sister and me, the gluten-free eaters, away from all the gluten and crumby hands. It was a good way to do it, cross-contamination-wise, but definitely reinforced the feeling of isolation.

      I hope you had a happy, non-Scroogelike time this year!

  6. V. Gingerich says:

    As a Dickens fan, and having read A Christmas Carol a few days ago, I think you know which one I liked best. Very clever!

    As an aspiring writer, and coming from a family of celiacs, I’ll be following your blog.

    This place looks like way too much fun.

    • mollycav@gmail.com says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the stories. Dickens is so great; if I could be half as funny and insightful as he was, I’d be pretty pleased with myself. Someday, maybe. 🙂 I’ll have to check out your blog too!

  7. […] Food Issues blog, the winner is Based on a Sprue Story. Even though Christmas is now over, go read Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition. My personal favorite was Almost Twelve Days of […]

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