Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanks and No Thanks: A Thanksgiving Game (with gluten)

Here’s a twist on Two Truths and a Lie to play at your Thanksgiving get-togethers this year: provide everyone with slips of paper and pens and have them write, on separate pieces of paper, one thing they’re thankful for this year, and one thing they’re not.

Collect the papers after a respectable amount of time (once all the Mary’s Gone crackers are gone and a few people have resorted to the veggie platter), and take turns reading them aloud. The group then tries to guess who wrote it, and whether he or she is thankful or unthankful for it. If you’re competitive, you can award points to those who guess right, and make the loser do the dishes. That’ll net you some thankful guests.


Original image © woodleywonderworks | Flickr (cynicism is all mine)

To get you started, here are a few examples from me. This year, I find I have many things to be thankful for. But there are others for which I’m shaking my fist at the universe. Go ahead…see if you can guess which is which. (Highlight for answers—the whole page at once, if you’re lazy.)

Celiac disease diagnosis
  Thankful, I guess, though a miraculous recovery would’ve been better.  

That I stopped biting my nails

That I stopped being a slob
  Would be thankful, if it had happened.  

My totally GF NYC apartment
  Thankful. Although don’t ask me that at the bottom of the stairs.  

That my apartment-mate (Sprue Jr.) got stuck being GF too
  Not thankful! Boooo, universe.  

The 2013 GFAF Expo in Secaucus and other events

The way my stomach felt after sampling way too many things at said events
  Less thankful.  

Getting nominated as Rookie of the Year in the 2013 WeGo Health Activist Awards
  Super thankful! If you pop over and “endorse” me, I’ll be even more so.  

Bob’s Red Mill GF line
  Thankful: sorghum, flaxseed, amaranth, millet, cornmeal, brown rice flour, hot cereal, brownie mix, CHICKPEA FLOUR, and probably more make this one a no-brainer. 

Bob’s Red Mill GF chocolate chip cookie mix
  We all make mistakes.  

The weight I lost by going gluten-free

Amazon Prime
  Thankful, but guiltily so.  

Corn and Rice Chex
  Ask my coworkers about the 16-box cartons of each that arrived to my attention courtesy of Amazon. Call it thankful but ashamed.  

The gluten-free tax break
  Ten months’ worth of lost receipts say no.  

The FDA ruling on gluten-free labeling
  Thankful. So good of them to wait till I was diagnosed to do anything.  

The few restaurants I can actually visit without it being considered an act of self harm
  I guess I sorta gave you that one.  

Dunkin Donuts going gluten-free
  I’ll believe it when I see it.  

The miraculous power of the human body to repair itself
  Check in with me next Thanksgiving.  

Games aside (and not to get all sappy on you), I have more in this almost-a-year of being gluten-free to be thankful for than not. Oh, sure, would I give back the incurable disease, the copays, the media scoffing at my diet, the bagel crumbs in the office kitchen? Yup.

But I’m grateful to have loving and supportive friends and family members; to live in the golden age of gluten-free food; and to be here at my childhood home, surrounded with stockpiled gluten-free equipment and ingredients waiting to come together into a meal we’ll all be able to enjoy tomorrow (the low-carbers, veg-heads, hockey-puck cranberry saucers, gluten-freebies, and all).

Oh, and I know I said I wouldn’t get sappy, but one more thing I’m thankful for is:

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful and not thankful for this year?

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Have yourself a non-awkward little gluten-free Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas

Holidays are beautiful. They’re a chance for people to come together, set aside their everyday concerns, celebrate the passage of time, stuff themselves silly, and play a lot of board games (at least, that’s what I like to do at the holidays). They’re full of traditions, generosity, outpourings of love, and other great stuff.

But they can also be awkward. Even if you love and get along with the folks with whom you celebrate—as I do—there’s plenty of room for a little holiday tension. Stuff like:

  • Your date to the office party ditches you to hang out with your coworkers.
  • The dinner conversation turns to your future offspring’s religion.
  • The traditional pudding the vegetarians just ate turns out to contain suet.
  • Your entire extended family finds out you’ll be prepping for a colonoscopy the following week.

No, I’m not speaking from personal experience.

Pretty cool! Till you learn what's in it. Photo © Steve Johnson | Flickr

Pretty cool! Till you learn what’s in it.
Photo © Steve Johnson | Flickr

Food restrictions make holidays more awkward. It’s hard to confidently strike the balance between ensuring enough of your needs are met that you don’t pass out in the buffet line (and maybe even have fun), and not making those needs the focal point of everyone’s attention for the whole party. The perfect balancing point differs depending on who you are, who you’re spending your holiday with, and how you celebrate it. I can’t tell you where yours is, and, more’s the pity, you can’t tell me where mine is. We all just have to struggle our way through it, fingers crossed and awkwardness accepted.

But to tell the truth, I don’t feel too nervous about my first-ever gluten-free Thanksgiving and Christmas (and first-and-only-ever Thanksgivukkah*—GF or not, I don’t think any of us will live to see the next one).

That’s because, for one thing, it’s not my first family get-together since celiac disease (this was), or my first holiday season with “dietary issues.” For a couple, I’ve been vegetarian; for one miserable Thanksgiving, I considered myself “severely fructose intolerant” (to the point of eating almost nothing but meat, potatoes, rice, and spinach); and last December, well before my celiac tests, I found myself asking, “Can we sub in buckwheat groats for a low-FODMAP option?”

It’s also because I have an understanding family, and because I’ve started discussing the holidays with them already. Now, I know I said that I can’t show you your perfect balance point, but if I could offer you one piece of advice, it’s this: start looking for it early.

NFCA gluten-free holiday tip of the day

The NFCA is posting a daily tip, like this one from ME, throughout the holiday season. They can all be found here.
Image © National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

This is advice I need to learn to take, myself. I’m prone to putting off conversations that I anticipate will be awkward. It’s a bad habit, because inevitably, the putting-off makes the conversation more awkward when it finally happens. If you’ve ever waited until the last possible second to break up with someone, or fess up to a mistake you made, or ask for a day off, I’m sure you know what I mean.

Even if you’ve done this a million times and are totally comfortable both with your food restrictions and with the folks who will be carving your turkey, it’s still worth checking in with them now. Think about it: If you wait to discuss bringing a special dish until your host has already drawn up the oven schedule for the side dishes, they’re not going to feel very grateful. And Christmas Eve is not the time to heave a sigh and wish that someone had adapted that family sugar cookie recipe. Even if you’re not a planner, now is definitely the time.

Have the awkward conversations now, so you can enjoy yourself later. And if things still get awkward, remember that, after all, holidays aren’t really about the food. They’re about the board games.

Christmas Scrabble game

Photo © Mart | Flickr

Have you started preparing for the holidays? Are you hosting or guesting? And if you’ve been through this wonderful, awkward season of joy with food restrictions before, will you be doing anything differently this year?

*My family is as gentile as they come, but we’ve always celebrated Hanukkah. Why not? Mom likes lighting candles, Dad likes making latkes, and we all like playing dreidel. When it comes to holidays, I say gimel.

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