Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Showing Compassion As Celebrate

This is a wonderful time of year.

The wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus the Christ!

The sparkling lights and glittering garland as we travel in the dark (it sure is dark a lot, eh?).

The wonderful time we get to spend with family and friends.

The super yummy food that we savor during this month of calorie free (it’s free if you’re not counting them like me) eating.  

Speaking of food – do you realize that 8% of children under the age of 18 (that’s about 6 million) kids are allergic to one or more foods? This increases more and more each year.

I will not get into the particulars (too much) on why there are more food allergies and intolerances – but just know that it has a lot to do with genetically altering and FDA regulated processes (e.g. pasteurizing) that may have started with good intentions, but ended up actually changing the food. So the milk we drink (well, not my family, we are dairy free) is not the same milk that our grandparents grew up drinking.

Of course we also know that it is partially due to the results of the fall of humanity into sin. Our bodies are decaying and each generation shows more and more signs of this.

Back to the holiday celebrations.

Imagine a little girl loving the time she spends with her family on Christmas Eve. She is singing Christmas carols. She is opening presents and smiling for pictures. She’s kissing Grandpa under the mistletoe. And she is loving the holiday food! It is decorated so beautifully. It tastes divine. What a wonderful Christmas Eve.

On the way home, her tummy starts to cramp and hurt. She goes to bed crying from the pain. Christmas day she wakes and still does not feel well. She tries to put on a smile as she opens more presents, but her eyes are dark and puffy and her tummy is cramping so much. She spends much of Christmas morning in the bathroom. The homemade cinnamon rolls that her Mom made especially for her family (leaving out all the ingredients that will make her feel ill) just sit on the counter. She does not feel like eating much of anything. She decides to go back to bed and sleep most of the day.

 Not a fun way to spend Christmas morning, is it?
Imagine another situation where a child grabs one of the cookies that he saw someone eat one and declared it to be the best cookie he has ever tasted! He grabs the cookie and before he finishes it, his lips and tongue start to swell. He struggles for his breath. He sees his Mom in the distance and gives her that look of panic that she fears. She grabs the needle and stabs the epi-pen into his leg. Slowly he starts to breathe better. Slowly his mouth stops itching. Slowly the hives start to disappear. In his shallow breathing and tiny voice he asks if they can just go home.

So as you gather with friends and family this season, consider the people you are meeting. Do any suffer from allergies? The adults have probably learned to cope pretty well, but it is especially difficult for the kids to understand they are not able to eat the food that everyone says is so delicious. It feels like punishment. It feels like torture. 
Here are some things you can do to show compassion:

1.       Know the food you are bringing.

a.       If it is homemade, bring the recipe (or remember what you added that might be an allergy (egg (e.g. whites, yolks, egg beaters, and marshmallow cream), dairy (e.g. butter, sour cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, and cheese), gluten (aka flour), nuts or peanuts).

b.      If it is something you purchased at a store, be sure to have the ingredient list.

2.       If you know that someone in the group cannot have a certain allergen, try to find a recipe or purchase a food that is allergen free.

a.       There are many websites that provide yummy recipes that do not require a bunch of “odd” ingredients. Sometimes all you need to do is google the substitution for the allergen would be. For instance, if you were making cookies, you can replace an egg with half of a mashed banana or applesauce. (e.g. Living Without, Go Dairy Free)

b.      You can also ask a parent for a recipe that their son or daughter can have. Most parents are more than willing to share a recipe.

3.       Remember that people are rarely allergic to fresh vegetables and fruits. They are always a good choice!
4.    Most importantly, be compassionate. The people who suffer from food allergies and intolerances do not choose to suffer this way. They would LOVE to eat the peanut butter fudge, mozzerella stuffed mushrooms, or even order a pizza. But they have learned the (very) hard way that it is not worth it.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another;
love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous
[1 Peter 3:8]


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