The gift that keeps on giving



I received an email the other day from our rental office that they had a gift for us for reaching one year of tenancy.  I said to my husband, “I’d be willing to be that it’s full of food we can’t eat”  Turns out I was right.

The gift box was filled with chocolate, candy, nuts and soda.  We ended up tossing most of it out.  While I appreciate the thought, more thought should have been put into giving us something other than a food gift.

I can’t believe that I am the only tenant with food issues or allergies.  Gluten, dairy, nut, egg and other food allergies/intolerances are becoming more and more commonplace.  Why would our rental office not think about this when giving gifts to tenants?  It’s a waste of their money and a waste of food.  There are many non-food gifts that can be given as a small token of appreciation.  This kind of ignorance in this day and age of media focus on food issues just doesn’t fly with me.  In fact, it makes me angry.

Another issue that I have is holiday potlucks or catered dinners.  For example, at my recent job, and also at our rental office, notices have been given of holiday potluck dinners.  As soon as these are announced, my heart sinks.  People want to know why you are not participating.  My simple answer-I have food allergies.  I know it’s not completely truthful, but it’s far easier to tell people this than to try to explain what gluten intolerance is.   Even if I brought a dish, no doubt it would be the only one I could eat, and no doubt it would be cross-contaminated within seconds.  It is just easier to bow out.

I thought about saying something to the girls in the rental office, but would it do any good? I doubt it.  I would probably get a profuse apology, followed by embarrassment for all parties involved.   The biggest issue here is social segregation.  Those of us who have to avoid social situations that revolve around food become pariahs.  As I mentioned earlier, rather than subject ourselves to the rolling eyes and clucking tongues, we will simply bow out.  And we will be ostracized as a result.

I truly resent this.  I would like to get to know my neighbors.  At last year’s Christmas party, when I mentioned my food issues, I was assured that there would be “safe” food at all future get-togethers. When I arrived and surveyed the “safe options”, I was resigned to eating raw fruit and vegetables.  I couldn’t eat the dip or whipped cream that accompanied them, nor could I eat the cookies, cakes or snacks.  At that point, I was still drinking soda, but have since stopped.  We didn’t stay long.

We will not be going to our community Thanksgiving or Christmas party this year.  And that is a sad, sad commentary, folks.   Maybe I should bake them a gluten and dairy free cake to show them that they would never know the difference; and also to put one over.  Just once,  I would like to see a completely allergen free holiday potluck.  That, my friends, is what I truly want for Christmas.

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