So you love the holidays? Have you ever considered the rest of us?
Got allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or Lyme? Then forget going out during the holiday season. Life is rough the rest of the year as well, but there is something about Christmas that really brings out the corporate and public need to fill the air with artificial good cheer.
Scented candles, incense, perfume, air fresheners, scented oils, potpourri, pine trees, poinsettias and flavored cookies, coffees, scented place mats, and even Christmas toys with heavy scents dominate the stores and are especially concentrated at entrances and exits and in the impulse areas like register areas and make it basically impossible for someone like me to enter most stores much less buy basic goods like say, toilet paper.
So, yes, basically from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, I have a choice, walk around with a poopy hindend or risk my life (literally) And go through epipens like water in an effort to maintain basic hygiene!!!
And all because so much of our culture has been brainwashed into believing that chemicals, plastic, and scented wax are a mandatory part of having a happy holiday!
Not to mention some other facts like poinsettias, holly, and mistle toe are all poisonous and dangerous to children and pets and many people are allergic to them, that Christmas trees are a fire risk and another allergen (not to mention environmentally unfriendly) and that the whole “Give me stuff” guilt/obligation thing is a commercial creation that leads to all sorts of miseries and is completely contrary to the actual spirit of giving and compassion that used to be part of the season.
And then there is food…
It is very literally not possible for most people with food allergies to go out, go on visits, or share meals with people this holiday season.
The most common food allergies and food related illnesses pretty much rules out all the tradition foods of the season.
Dairy, corn, and wheat/gluten allergies due away with most recipes and pretty much all desserts. Nut, shellfish, and food coloring rules out more. Diabetes, GI issues, Chronic bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome rule out still more things. Then there are Phenol allergies, plastic allergies (containers), people on autism, Feingold, or SCD diets.
And if you are like me, one of many people with 70+ food allergies and only a very small hand full of safe foods this time of year is nothing but isolation, and sheer bloody torture.
And this is a food and stuff culture so the TV, internet, and shops become landmines of advertising, samples, and food temptations pretty much 24/7 this time of year.
You take your cakes, pies, steaks, tarts, candy, coffees, baked goods, and so on and cram them all up your @sses…or that’s how many of us feel.
Next there is “stuff”. Stuff you must have, stuff Junior must have. Stuff the little girl will just die if she does not have.
Expensive, trendy, this season’s item, ill made to well made, cheap to expensive, no cash, no carry,” must have it at any price” stuff.
In a land where hunger, debt, poor medical care, and low wages run rampant we STILL have to have our stuff. Even if the garage if full, the SUV is half storage locker, and the house grows smaller by the day, we gotta have that flat screen, that IPad and IPod, new computer, Kenneth Cole, A&F, Starbucks, Nike, glow in the dark, real leather, over priced, “where will I put this”, “where did I put that”, stuff.
There is a simplification movement in America, yes, but that is a very small minority of us. The majority of us are somewhere between the two car garage but car’s on the curb level and being featured on the next episode of Hoarders.
But we have to do it. Go out and buy more. We confuse actual charitable or compassionate giving for feelings of obligation tied to feelings of self worth tied to our egoic selves in millions of insidious ways. Buy your daughter the Barbie or you don’t love her, buy cousin Georgina the scented candle because she bought you the ormolu egg timer (You don’t eat hard boiled eggs and which one is Georgina again?), buy the boss something to get promoted, buy the coworker something to keep him/her from backstabbing you later, buy the mailman something because everyone on the street does and you don’t want to be odd man out. Buy yourself the tie that’s on sale for only $300 because it will help you climb the corporate ladder. Buy cards for the people who don’t rate stuff but have to have something so they won’t think you are a jerk.
Do it if you are rich – you’re obliged, do it if you are too poor to put meat on the table – you have your pride. Just make sure you go out and “Just Do It.” and if the object says Nike on the side extra credit for buying into the corporate dream.
Screw it. No more.
I OPTED OUT.
No gifts incoming or outgoing. No lies or trying to figure out how to give the one guy I liked a gift without offended the thirty others at the party because I had nothing for them. No excuses. No wasting money needed for food or medical care.
And hopefully, my poorest relations and friends are not wasting money they need for food or medical care and my wealthiest are not buying me orange wool socks which I would hate and be allergic to and wasting resources like time, money, and wrapping paper in the process.
I mean let’s get real, I can’t afford to participate at all this year in American fashion. And frankly neither can they. It erodes all of our health, wealth, and time…not to mention our souls when we fail to be true both to ourselves and those we love.
I can’t get adequate medical care much less shop for the fifty odd people who have suddenly remembered me this last couple of weeks and come begging with their hands out.
Most of my friends can’t either. Some of my family sure as hell can’t.
I can’t receive gifts either…not that I had any desire to, between most peoples absolute ignorance of who I am and what I might want ( a trend that leads to the local Goodwill getting the vast majority of my gifts the next day – 98-100%) and the fact that my allergies are so severe I can’t touch most items (and that includes the wrapping papers), there is no point in people giving me things.
I am also usually completely ignorant of what all but my closest five or six friends and family members might want and so the other 45+ idiots that have contacted me would probably be very disappointed in what I might give them.
And let’s be honest here, in the tradition of Saki’s Nemesis Day there are also a handful of these people to whom I’d prefer not to give anything save a swift kick to the head anyway.
Why give people I loathe things I can’t afford in exchange for things I don’t want?
Why feel obligated to people whose only claims are blood or a gymnastics class five years ago or who remember my name only around Christmas time?
So how about some truths here? I know several of my Lymie and MCS friends are in the same boat I am but won’t speak up because of their entanglements…so I’ll speak for them.
STOP the madness.
Contribute to a little sanity. Help someone with their medical bills. Feed someone hungry. Give to your local soup kitchen. Help the little old lady across the street. Return the lost dog, the lost wallet, the rare smile.
Share your table, share your knowledge, share some time with an invalid, or with your kids.
Stop giving people things that are worthless, and start Giving things that are meaningful.
To all my friends, family, Lyme family, and the diehards who remember me all of the time…my deepest affections and best wishes to you all.
Happy holidays to all those readers that read this and get it…
…and to those who don’t, BAH F*%KING HUMBUG. Go play with yourself (and all your stuff).
For more reading…
- Holiday Sniffles: Learn to Recognize Poinsettia Allergy Symptoms (landscaping.answers.com)
- Talking to Your Children about Your Food Allergy (allergicworld.wordpress.com)
- Managing Food Allergies – Planning for the Holidays and Beyond (kitchology.com)
- Navigating the Holidays with Food Allergies (tastefulpantry.com)
- Don’t Kill Your Holiday Guests (bet.com)