Holiday potlucking–with sensitivity!

My husband and I live far from “home” — Minnesota/North Dakota, the heart of our growing-up years, where we were born and raised, went to school, started our careers, married and still have many family members and friends.

This makes us particularly thankful for our Holiday Families, here in Washington/Oregon. These are the people we and our son spend major holidays with.

Next week, we will gather with our Thanksgiving Family, a group that includes a real extended family plus several of us Holiday members. We blend in thanks to our shared history and love for each other … and our respect for each other’s eating habits.

Our number includes those who eat:

  • vegetarian
  • vegan
  • dairy-free
  • gluten-free
  • sugar-free
  • additive-free

Does it sound daunting? It really isn’t. We potluck with sensitivity, each bringing things our own posse can eat and adapting recipes so others will be able to enjoy our offerings as well.

For example, every year I bring Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes. The recipe calls for goat cheese, which at least one of our members shouldn’t eat, so before adding that ingredient, I set aside a generous portion of the sweet potatoes in its own bowl. Easy-peasy.

Another example: I know others will be bringing glorious desserts made with wheat flour, which my son and I shouldn’t eat. So I usually bring a gluten-free dessert that will satisfy our sweet tooths — and those of others as well.

For our family, asking whether guests have sensitivities is standard practice. On a regular weekend last fall, we invited friends we hadn’t seen for a while to our house for dinner. I asked the husband whether his family had food sensitivities, even though I expected him to brush off the question.

Instead, he told me that his wife had realized she has a sensitivity to butter. “And,” he said, “it’s real.” (You can find that story here.)

As in so much of life, communication is the key. (As my Thanksgiving Family sister said after reading a draft of this post, “Communication, compassion and respect are the keys to everything, right?”)

Recognizing that sensitivities are real is the first step. Talking about them usually leads to easy fixes that enable everyone to enjoy and feel good around the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

If you’d like to learn more about my family’s food journey and what we’ve learned, I’ve begun sharing our story, which begins with “Food is my hammer.”

Psssst, on an unrelated topic: Have you ever cut and run from your regularly scheduled life? The Same Moon, my debut memoir, is the story of what happened when I ran far, far away … to find my way home. Learn more about it here.

Book cover -- The Same Moon

Photo (Thanksgiving) by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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