Things I was afraid of during the holidays, when I first started dating Brandon:
Buttered veggies of any kind
Stuffings in general
Chocolate in general
Candy canes with "may contain" labels
Being invited to Friendsmas or other non-immediate family Christmas dinners
His family Christmas dinner
Things I'm afraid of during the holidays, now:
Office pot luck parties (all year long)
Arriving before the dinner portion of our office Christmas party is over, meaning I get to stand around awkwardly while people eat
Someone bringing in homemade baked goods using their family recipe that's mainly made of butter
People giving me cookies or other sweets as a nice gesture
Vats of mulled wine with mysterious spices floating around
So the important part of this post is, how do we cope with the things that give us anxiety? Yes there are some parties or events that I may choose to skip because they are indeed skippable. I don't have time or mind space to go to every event, dinner, or party, and some are less safe than others in terms of food.
- Make an informed decision about whether or not to go, and stick with it. If the hosts are unwilling to find a restaurant or menu that would allow you to participate, don't feel compelled to attend. You'll have a much better season if you prioritize those that put you first.
- Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. If you trust the host or restaurant to make you a special meal, ask for it. Don't allow yourself to be shy, because you deserve to participate.
- Sometimes you may end up with nothing to eat at a party, but it's really what you make of it. Every year I eat before our office Christmas party and choose not to indulge during. It's usually a buffet or canapes, so I can blend in more easily and it saves me the stress of coordinating my meal with the kitchen. I also find I can relax more if I'm not feeling allergy anxiety or wondering if what I just ate is safe, in front of 400 colleagues.
- Do the hosting. I default to doing the hosting myself because it allows me control of the situation and I still get to spend time with my family and friends in a fun atmosphere. In fact I'm likely to host several times during the season, and I think I've developed a knack for it!
- Try not to dwell on it. It's easy to build stress and anxiety about an event that you know is coming up. Maybe you're going to a dinner party at your significant other's house for the first time and you don't know how their family will handle the food. The best thing to do is remain calm, communicate, and involve yourself in the process. My mother-in-law made a Butterball turkey the first year I went to her house for Christmas, thinking it was just called that and didn't actually contain butter. So thankfully I asked and wasn't shy about it! Now it's a memory we laugh at. People make honest mistakes, so be there to guide them for your mutual benefit.
- Don't feel obligated to eat it. Just because someone brings you a treat, makes you a special meal, or buys you something they think is safe, you don't have to feel obligated to eat it. If you trust the person, your call. If you haven't had their cooking before, ask a lot of clarifying questions. It's really up to you.
- Give yourself time to relax, like Joella pictured above. To stave off anxiety I have to read and take a nightly bath. When I don't follow my ritual I really feel the stress build up. Find what calms you and take time to do it. Allergy anxiety can be constant and overwhelming so give your mind some peace and quiet daily.
Leading up to Christmas we'll be sharing our favorite holiday recipes for cozying up or entertaining. Keep an eye out for our recipe for caramelized bananas with spiced, toasted coconut tomorrow!