What Will Your Holiday Season Look Like?

November 2, 2020

by Caroline Moassessi, FAACT’s Vice President of Community Relations

The autumn leaves are turning colors, a few flakes of snow have softly fallen to earth. Nature reminds us that the holidays are coming. Our hearts are eager for family, traditions, and love. Yet, an uneasy cloud of uncertainly hangs over our planning this year. Questions race through our minds: should we invite grandparents, aunts or uncles, or friends over? If so, how many? How can we reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, all while managing food allergy? If you feel stressed about the holidays, I believe it is safe to say that we all might be feeling a tinge of anxiety or have an unsettled feeling growing in our bellies.

We have never been in the position to manage family holiday stress coupled with a pandemic. As families living with food allergies, we developed superpowers! We can spot an allergen at 50 yards and tackle misinformed relatives and school staff confidently. We are fearless at passing legislation and are wizards at seeking support from each other.

Let us dive deeper into tools you might already have in hand to help you navigate this holiday season.

Start with You. How is your self-care plan working for you? If you do not have a plan, today is the best day to create one. Airlines instruct us to put on our mask before helping our child; the same theory works on the ground. Are you up for the challenge? If not, sent a boundary or ask for help. Drop by FAACT’s Behavioral Health Resource Center to find self-care, coping, anxiety, stress information, and tips.

Be Realistic. Although COVID-19 guidelines and new discoveries take place in what feels like daily news alerts, explore what might be best practices for your region and your family’s health. Are any family members at high risk for complications of COVID-19? Could this be the year that everyone enjoys the holidays tucked snuggly into their jammies at home with a phone or zoom call topping off a peaceful day?

Pause and Ponder Traditions: Sit down for a few moments and think about current family traditions. Can your family participate in these while safely managing food allergies and COVID-19? Might this be the year your creative juices flow, and you establish a new tradition. Instead of one or two people rising early to prepare a feast, can the whole family create a special meal together? Could a special dinner be replaced with a family hike or hot chocolate by an outdoor fire pit?

BYOF: Bring Your Own Food and enjoy distance dining (weather permitting) as individual families eating and enjoying each other outside in an appropriate and safe space. My family just enjoyed this style of entertaining with old family friends. We brought our own food, making managing food allergies a snap, and enjoyed being together at a safe and distance with warm blankets and hot tea to keep things toasty. Discover new holiday recipes at FAACT’s Pinterest Collection and don’t miss our new Cultural Allergy-Friendly Recipes.

Careful Conversations. If you need to break the bad news that you are not traveling or hosting others, prepare yourself for the potentially challenging conversation. Some people will fully understand, and others will not. It is okay to feel sad but stay rooted in your food allergy spirit of staying firm within your boundaries of safety. As families managing food allergies, we understand that we often make the “un-fun” decision while finding solace in knowing we are keeping those we love safe. The same theory applies here. Communicate with love but saying no when no is the right thing to do.

Fill your Glass. Now is a great time to shift focus to gratitude and the positive in your life. We know things are overwhelming and challenging, yet we can also sit in gratitude for whatever small or large, good things are taking place. Even though some days feel so heavy, I know every day good things are happening to people. My family plays the gratitude game: we pause and fire off three things we are grateful for, such as warm fuzzy socks, a tasty dinner, or a good night’s sleep.

Whatever your situation may be, I am sure we can agree that the most important thing is understanding the world is tough. Yet, we are tougher, and love can be shared through the phone, an old school letter, or Zoom call.

Visit FAACT for more holiday tips!

We wish everyone a healthy and Happy Holiday Season!