Redefining Thanksgiving Expectations

Confession – I was a fantastic baker before I had to accommodate my children’s food allergies.  

This came to mind because Thanksgiving used to be the holiday in which I really flexed my culinary muscles.  

One year, high off of being newly engaged and armed with a lot of unrealistic expectations, I decided to host both my family and my soon to be partner’s family at our modest (read small) apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.

I made six types of ice cream (I wanted to make everyone’s favorite), a pound cake, an apple pie, a pumpkin pie, and two turkeys.  Yes, two – one was traditionally brined and baked and the other was smoked for 7 hours. 

It was ridiculous.  

As soon as I placed the last dish on the table, I think I collapsed until the next day.

Last year, I completely shut down and NOPED out of any Thanksgiving obligations and invites because I wasn’t sure how to host a meal that would both live up to my Food Network Fantasies and would more importantly, be safe for Max. 

Above all, I wanted to avoid the polite but pointed adjective, “Oh, honey…this tastes so healthy.”  (I know what that means, aunt Mandy.)

Managing Max’s allergies has meant relearning how to cook – from restocking the refrigerator and panty, learning when to substitute and when to throw the recipe out of the window.  For example, there are some great gluten free flours on the market, but I don’t know them as well I I do wheat flour – I can look at a wheat flour cookie and know when it’s almost done.  Not so much with a gluten free blend.  

Vegan baking has a learning curve and I’m still at the very beginning of it.  

Reading labels, adapting recipes, and creating something that that tastes exactly like grandma’s recipe that has been tried and true for 50 years is not a feasible goal.

Making a meal with and for your family with a gentle reminder that you are still learning is a feasible and very attainable goal.  

Last year, I gave myself a reality check and decided that I’m not going to put myself under that so much pressure to produce.  

I felt like I disappointed my extended family, but I needed that space to figure out myself how to manage multiple food allergies, articulate and defend boundaries in my house regarding food, and begin to redefine what foods will be apart of our family tradition.  Out with the mac and cheese and in with the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. 

This year, I decided to trial-run “a low key allergy-free dinner with my parents.”

I’ve set some expectations – 

1) There is no need to bring any food, but if you decide to, please let me know so I can make sure either substitutions are made to make it safe, or that we serve it safely.  

2) There will be some new recipes trialed – they may not taste like our family’s soul food Thanksgiving classics, but it’s what’s for dinner.

3) There will be plenty of desserts served, but mom, if you could save me a slice of pecan pie in your freezer,  I will come and eat that one day when Max is safely somewhere else.  

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