April 10, 2017
Holidays in America are a never ending source of stress for moms with food allergic/intolerant kids. Did you know that Easter is #2 for candy sales only behind Halloween? This is a holiday so interwoven with food traditions. There is Easter breakfast, Easter brunch, Easter dinner, Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, resurrection rolls. If you are a new allergy mom, you are probably sitting on the floor, crying like a baby at the thought of it. I get that. I have been there so many Easters. When Sparkle was little, I secretly fantasized about just skipping the holiday all together, and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for her sister who was 10 years older and well aware of holidays being being swept under the rug. We have had 8 Easters to practice this, but her food related disorders make it so that what she could eat one year, doesn’t mean she could eat it the next.
I wanted to share with you a few of the things we have done in regards to Easter baskets and candy. Maybe it will give you a few ideas or stir some creativity of mind for your own kids:
- To take the focus off the fact that Sparkle wasn’t getting a giant basket of candy, I used to make scavenger hunts for the Easter eggs. I would channel my inner Dr. Seuss and make 10 rhymes and clues and have the girls search all over for the eggs. I would put the clues in the eggs and at the end was a toy of some sort. Usually, Sparkle could have Enjoy Life chocolate chips or peppermints made with real sugar, so I might put a few of those in some of the eggs. But I have also filled her eggs with a few blueberries or a strawberry.
- We have done Easter egg hunts the night before Easter using eggs filled with glow sticks. Each child has to find 15 of their own color. There was a silly string fight at the end in celebration of the end of the hunt.
- I have filled Easter eggs with non-candy items like stickers, little lip glosses, stick on nails, Shopkins figures, rubber bracelets, slime, squeeze toys, cool shaped little erasers, money, hair bows, balloons and tiny nail polishes. If you look on Pinterest, there are a plethora of ideas for non-candy fillers. The times when we would have an Easter basket, I would also have a big item in the basket (like a pillow pet or a stuffed bunny) to take the place of the traditional big chocolate bunny.
- Dying Easter eggs has been a challenge since Sparkle is allergic to eggs. There have been some years she has dyed real eggs (albeit wearing rubber gloves), but most years we bought the eggs you can find at Walmart or Target, made of cardboard or something, that Sparkle could decorate herself with glitter glue, stickers, markers, google eyes, etc.
- We also do something called Resurrection Eggs. These are beautifully colored plastic eggs with tiny toy parts of the Easter story inside. It includes a booklet that goes through the meaning of each symbol. We have taken an egg per day to open and read about or sometimes we have done a scavenger hunt with the Resurrection eggs and read about them as the eggs were found (I have to admit though, there have been years that we haven’t found the crown of thorns or the stone from in front of the tomb until July).
The benefit for us (although it didn’t feel like a benefit at the time), was that since we knew when Sparkle was little bitty that food was an issue for her, we could start making Easter less food oriented. When children are two or three, they don’t care about tradition. They just want to have fun and see that everyone else is having fun as well. I think it would be a bigger challenge to have an older child, who has had holidays a certain way their whole life and now because of an allergy or intolerance, can’t do things they way they always have. And what I am noticing as Sparkle is older (she is 10), she is very aware of what everyone else is doing and she feels the fact she is the only one not doing it, keenly.
I wish I knew what the magic right answer was. I am sure we have done things the wrong way many times. I know that if your child’s food allergy is to one thing, like dairy or nuts, it is possible to google “dairy-free Easter candy” and you will find things you can buy or order online. You can google recipes for goodies and candies you can make. Since Sparkle has so many allergies to foods, it was never that easy for us. I have had to pray much, be creative, think outside the “candy” box and spend endless hours on the internet. I have to be real though, even after doing this food allergy thing for 8 years, I STILL feel dread in my heart as holidays approach and I cannot even explain the relief I feel when it is over and we have made it through without an allergic reaction. And in addition, if we can get through the day without a melt down because “WHY DO I HAVE TO BE THE ONLY ONE WHO IS DIFFERENT?!?!” or “WHY DO I HAVE EGGS FILLED WITH BLUEBERRIES AND JOHNNY NEXT DOOR GOT A 3 FOOT CHOCOLATE BUNNY IN HIS BASKET?!”, that, my friends, is an Easter miracle indeed.