Last night my husband and I visited a different church for their Christmas Eve Eve Service. It was a service packed with music, lights, ballet dancers (this is quite the scripted and theatrical church), and narrations. Part way into the program the children’s choir took their spot on the stage and began singing enthusiastically, all perfectly choreographed. It was then that I noticed a little red headed boy, with a perfect pale face wearing a holiday red sweater. His eyes were bright, and he was enjoying singing with his peers. He was surrounded by friends all wearing their Christmas best while dancing and singing. The sweet red headed boy is named Alex*. Alex is just like all the other kids. He goes to church, wishes for Santa to bring him the latest toy, and enjoys singing Christmas carols. Alex, though, has an invisible disease. Alex is the son and grandson of my fellow food allergy support group members, and has a severe peanut allergy.
This invisible disease we call food allergies is a blessing and curse at the same time. It’s a blessing because kids like Alex and my son Nathan can “hide” and do normal things like make cookies for Santa, build a gingerbread house, and enjoy Christmas parties with friends. This Invisible Christmas takes a lot of planing and precaution, but it’s worth it. I call it an Invisible Christmas because the disease is invisible, the preparations of safe food is often invisible, and the feelings these kids have from being different are invisible. This invisible disease is a curse because reactions are sometimes invisible, no one knows your child has a life-threatening food allergy just by looking at them, and sometimes food allergy families can feel invisible because no one invites them to gatherings. Managing an invisible disease during holidays is difficult to say the least, partly because allergens are often invisible.
The great thing is that there are so many more blessings even while celebrating The Invisible Christmas. We have eaten plenty of safe treats, spent time with friends, visited light displays, and participated in church activities……and it’s only Christmas Eve! I’m sure your family has done the same. I urge you to find the silver lining in your Invisible Christmas and be thankful for all of the blessings that surround you and your family this blessed Christmas Season. From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry (Invisible) Christmas and may the season be filled with a spirit of love and giving. Stay safe, enjoy each and every moment with your chidden, and don’t let the Invisible define you.
*Alex’s named has been changed to protect his identity.