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41 Comments

  1. 1

    CarrotMan

    Easy there. I know that I am only 6 months into this but one of the things I have learned is that even if people understand that you have Celiac they don’t always remember or they don’t entirely understand it.

    I am sure that the writer of the letter has given a gift at some point in her life that was completely irrelevant or useless to the recipient. It happens. Say thank you, maybe remind them that you have Celiac and move on with your life.

    It is not worth it to cut one entire side of your family out over a box of cookies.

    Reply
    1. 1.1

      Harmonie

      If they have been celebrating for 7 years together though, and they know she can’t have WHEAT ( at least), all it takes is a swift look at the ingredients. I feel for this girl, I know how it feels. This Christmas I brought my own Christmas dinner because my family made everything gluten-filled. Turkey was not GF gravy, potatoes, basically everything besides carrots and cranberry sauce.

      Reply
    2. 1.2

      Gluten Dude

      There was more to the email she sent me. It was inexcusable.

      Reply
    3. 1.3

      Karla B

      I have mixed feelings, honestly…if it was a gift to ME as the person in my household with celiac, I would feel bad about it. I too would be shedding silent tears. However, if it was to my family or meant to be shared with my family, I would actually sort of appreciate it, because then I wouldn’t have to either make or buy regular treats for them to enjoy. I don’t allow regular flour in my house anymore though we are not a GF household. I have had people who don’t know me that well give me a thank you gift, say, of a box of chocolates that weren’t gluten free. I also had someone make a meal for my family once when I had surgery and it was regular pasta–I think her intent was that I be able to eat it also, but I treated it as “well, here’s one meal my family will eat that I don’t have to make while I’m recovering.” I know this person knows I eat GF and probably would have felt awful knowing she goofed, but it was a one-time thing and a kind gesture. However, for my family members, I expect them to know more and care more. They still goof sometimes–like putting the knife into a shared jar without thinking. It’s a learning curve. Seven years seems like long enough to learn the basics though. If there was more to it, that is really a shame. I guess this person needs to decide if it’s important enough to cut out those people–that’s an individual choice and not every celiac would make the same decision. I would wonder why this writer’s husband hasn’t intervened and told his parents that’s not acceptable and please ask him for some gift advice before they give a gift like that to a celiac.

      Reply
  2. 2

    Irene

    I only have been diagnosed with celiac since the end of November 2015. For Christmas my mother in law gave me a tray filled with gluten full goodies. NOT the most thoughtful gift considering the stress the holidays caused me with my new diet. BUT my husband and kids enjoyed the goodies. My mom has been baking gluten free goodies for a couple years for a nephew of mine who has celiac. He’s much less sensitive than me and she’s always trying to force me to eat them- although it’s not really safe for me. I’d probably pick my mother in laws attititude where I have to bring all my own food over my mom trying ( unsuccessfully) to make me gluten free stuff. Much less stressful and easier on my stomach.
    One important lesson I learned this past week is- do not assume a gluten free item in the USA is also gluten free in Canada. I ate rolos last week and got really sick- gluten free in the USA but NOT Canada.

    Reply
    1. 2.1

      Kim

      Just a quick note here because you are newly diagnosed and may not realize this – if the stuff your mom is baking isn’t safe for you to eat as a celiac, it’s not safe for your nephew either. Regardless of the level of an individual’s sensitivity, cross-contamination will cause damage to the intestinal wall. As an adult it’s much easier for you to advocate for yourself, and if your nephew is an adult, then he can and should be advocating for himself, but if he’s a child, your nephew needs someone to point this out to your mother before he ends up in worse shape. He’s lucky to be diagnosed young so he can avoid the major issues that come with living undiagnosed for years, eating gluten and causing massive damage to the body.

      I’m so sorry that you had that experience with the Rolos. :( I was diagnosed while living in Canada, and have moved and visited back and forth between the two countries quite a bit since; it’s amazing how different things can be, food-wise, just crossing the border. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

      Reply
      1. 2.1.1

        Irene

        Thank you Kim! My nephew is 11 or 12, and you are so right, it’s not safe for him either.

        Reply
        1. 2.1.1.1

          wheatfreeeee

          That’s right, sensitivity to symptoms does not always correlate with the level of damage actually taking place. Particularly a 12 year old person might not perceive all the damage from a glutening.

          Reply
        2. 2.1.1.2

          Kim

          Yeah, 11 is still quite young to be advocating for himself, or even to be really aware of the real dangers of cross-contamination. I agree with what wheatfreeeee is saying about not being aware of all the damage.

          Another thing to be very aware of with children as they move into adolescence – there can be long periods where the symptoms of the disease appear to disappear completely. It’s worth looking at some of the past literature about it, just to be aware of this phenomenon. There was some debate years ago around whether or not Celiac disease was a lifelong condition because doctors were seeing these patients who would go through long periods where the disease was latent, particularly during adolescence. I was diagnosed with DH a few months after my first child was born, but I had been suffering with the rash for years before that; nobody could diagnose it properly. I’ve had GI symptoms my entire life – for as long as I can remember anyways. The interesting part, though, is that while I was pregnant with my first child, the DH was completely in remission. It was incredibly strange. It came back with a vengeance right after delivery though – while I was still in the hospital.

          So anyways, that needs to be something that is on your nephew’s radar, as well as those who are preparing food for him. Not reacting to foods doesn’t mean that there isn’t still an issue, but it sure can look that way.

          (http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/eppp-archive/100/201/300/cdn_medical_association/cim/vol-19/0357.htm – link to an article from 1996 about celiac being a life long condition. I hope that sharing links is okay Gluten Dude; I can’t remember exactly what your commenting policy is on this.)

          Reply
          1. 2.1.1.2.1

            Irene

            Interesting! Thanks

            Reply
      2. 2.1.2

        Irene

        Thank you Kim- good advice. My nephew is 11

        Reply
    2. 2.2

      CR

      Hi Irene, I agree with you… I have the situation of someone trying to make me things at one household and completely giving control of my own food over to me at the other. It is definitely much less stress for all in the later situation. I always get stressed about going to visit family where they insist on making me food although I say I need to make my own. I’ve been putting my foot down gently but more firmly and if I have to next time will carry my camping gear and set up a kitchen in the backyard! :)

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. 2.2.1
  3. 3

    Tracey

    Please. After seven years, I would be not only insulted and offended but really hurt. This isn’t someone at the office. These are your parents-in-law. Any parent-in-law with half a heart would make the effort to at least understand in a basic way that their child’s spouse can’t have gluten. People in your family are supposed to LOVE you. Love. It isn’t, obviously, about a box of cookies, it’s about a lack of caring. The DAY I found out my sister was diagnosed with celiac disease, I went online to find out all about it so I could giver her support and understanding. Best thing I ever did, because that led to my own diagnosis of celiac, and now not only am I free of all the things which made me so mysteriously sick for years, but my sister and I have this amazing bond we never had before. Family means nothing if there’s no love, and love means you show that you give a sh&t.

    Reply
    1. 3.1

      wheatfreeeee

      Well done you!

      Reply
    2. 3.2

      Holly Agnew

      Unfortunately, I have learned that most people are self-centered and do not really care or get it, or they forget or believe celiac is not a real thing. My family, fortunately, is not this way, and most of my friends are caring and careful. However, I do not want anyone to feel responsible for my food. I don’t expect anyone to care as much about my safety as I do. It is just not their job. It is mine. I bring my own food. If someone’s feelings get hurt when I don’t eat her food, her priorities are off base. Food is generally offered in love. If it is offered as an opportunity to praise the cook instead of please the recipient, it is off base.

      Reply
  4. 4

    CD

    This is INEXCUSABLE! Celiac for 7 years and in-laws knew it and fully understood it and still gave her gluten, as a present!?! Shame on you family for your terrible insensitivity! To me this is down right cruel. She “shed tears” for gods sake! I would have not been so kind to my in-laws as this woman was. I might have cried right there in front of them and scolded them for their cruelty. We as Celiac’s have got to stand up for ourselves. If people think it’s okay to behave like this, sadly they will continue. Never accept this type of behavior from family and friends. If they don’t get on board and take you seriously. Cut them out of your life. No more presents for them, no more cards, no more visits. The end.

    Reply
    1. 4.1

      Gloria

      I agree. She has served a long enough sentence. I wish she had handed them right back. I wish her husband would have stood up for her.

      Reply
  5. 5

    KeinArl

    Her husband needs to talk to his parents and stick up for his wife. Staying silent on the issue moves no one forward.

    Reply
    1. 5.1

      Kimberly Tansley

      His silence actually condones their behavior. This is an ongoing issue with my husband and his parents. Not speaking up is the same as telling them what they’ve done is acceptable.

      Reply
    2. 5.2

      Holly Agnew

      Amen!

      Reply
  6. 6

    TJ

    I 100% relate to this. My in-laws refuse to try to understand celiac disease. I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to open up a giant box of gluten-full cookies from them. It’s inexcusable. But I don’t have a solution, other than avoiding the situation, which ultimately hurts my husband. He’s even tried talking to them about it. They still see it as a fad, even though they’ve poisoned me with gluten (after INSISTING things were GF, I should have known better, this was years ago when it last happened, back when I was trying to be polite and thought maybe they’d have my best interests at heart) and they’ve seen what happens (to an extent, of course).

    It’s infuriating. And hurtful. I honestly don’t understand people who think it’s ok for them to treat her that way!

    Reply
    1. 6.1

      Alanna

      Also, how is her husband just standing by and letting this happen. It is his family.

      This Christmas I spent my first Christmas at my (future) in-laws and my partner was a better advocate for me than even I was. It was wonderful to see.

      Reply
    2. 6.2

      Morgan

      My mother-in-law PURPOSELY poisoned me with gluten and dairy as she didn’t believe me. When we had to stay an extra 2 days so that I could make the 600 mile drive home. When I ran to the bathroom and didn’t come out for an hour, my hubby knew what was up and he asked his mom what she had fed me. When she admitted to the dairy and gluten he yelled at her and she finally confessed that she thought I was looking for attention! That was the last meal I ate at her house. I brought my own homemade food, kept it in a cooler in our trunk, and would go and get a container and nuke it and eat, listening to her grumble the entire time that “her food wasn’t good enough for me!” And that was the last time I saw her. Hubby refused to take me or the kids to her house to protect us from her nastiness.

      Reply
  7. 7

    Mary

    My mother never acknowledged her granddaughter’s ( over 30 years old) severe nut allergy. I don’t even try to explain her and her father’s celiac (6 years) disease. As a result we have not spent any major holiday with my mother nor do we eat at her house. Food is a curious issue in families.

    Reply
  8. 8

    Amanda

    I feel so sad for this woman. As a semi-newly diagnosed Celiac (April 2015), I will admit that family events are still one of my struggles too. I even told my husband that his mother did not have to cook anything for me when we visit and that I would appreciate it if she understood when I can’t eat what she serves. Instead, she has gone above and beyond to make sure that I have something safe to eat at every family event. This past Christmas she made separate soup, chicken, gravy and bread for me to eat and warned me about everything I should stay away from. She doesn’t fully understand celiac (she sent me a text and asked if it was ok to add milk and butter to the GF instant mashed potatoes she purchased or if that would contaminate them…) but at least she’s TRYING to understand and keep me safe. That means the world to me.

    Reply
    1. 8.1

      Holly

      This is terrific. This is how my family and friends are. It is so sad for folks who do not have a supportive circle.

      Reply
  9. 9

    Rossana

    I think this is more about in laws not recognizing your condition. Curious, what was your husband’s gift from them? I understand that sometimes it’s difficult to give a gift to an “in law” for lack for knowing them better or maybe refusing to recognize that people or conditions change. Just for giggles, my mother in law of 37 years has given me a silver piece of jewelry each year for my B-day. I don’t wear silver. The gift ny husband (their son) received for many years was huge and many time ostentatious and mine always a small token, like your cookies are. I am thankful that I am not Celiac but have been on a GF diet for health reasons other than celiac d. for over 5 years. I can’t expect others to change their meal preparations just for me so I am not insulted if my diet is not accommodated but would be terrified, hurt and insulted receiving those store bought cookies from someone that is close to me. I think store bought cookies, are more of a convenient last minute, “I didn’t know what to get you” kind of gift. Sorry, skip the gift exchange with them. Tell them the gift will be the gathering and bring a yummy dish you can eat… and don’t share!

    Reply
  10. 10

    Bonnie

    The worst attitude I’ve ever seen on the part of the giver–when I’ve received a gluten-filled food gift from them–was the comment that I could “share” the food with family members who do not have the disease.

    Oh–so you KNEW that I couldn’t have gluten–but you STILL sent a gift that I could do nothing with except GIVE IT AWAY? Maybe I can do something creative with the empty box… Thanks so much!

    Reply
  11. 11

    Gloria

    I turned 60 last year and find myself being way less tolerant of a$$e$. Maybe that was my magic number and I don’t need to take it anymore. But I removed myself from certain social situations that continually cause me stress and 60 was a good year!! People can’t walk on you if you don’t lay down first. Stand tall sister! Driving a “long distance” and bringing the entire dinner (how is this even safe?) for 7 years is long enough. Stay home next year and invite them. If they won’t come oh well. You have served a long enough sentence. If your husband won’t support you let him go alone. I think you were not crying over a box of cookies. You were crying over 7 long years of feeling invisible. It hurts.

    Reply
  12. 12

    Sunshine

    We may divorce ourselves from in-laws if we wish, immediate family if so desired, any or all friends failing to show proper sympathies at all the right times. Do all that, and go on living happily ever after; or just go on, with Celiac, alone. Choice is the sunshine of opportunity for Celiacs, as wise choices keep the worst storminess away.

    Reply
  13. 13

    Jersey Girl

    GD-

    Love the post. CarrotMan, you are new to this arena so I’ll give you a pass.

    WTF??? Dude (not you dude, just dude like 80’s dude), I would so have let them have it right then and there and take a potty break on that cookie tin. That is a slap in the face my friend. That is in your face zero compassion that is become oh so familiar in this day and age. Not acceptable. Not tolerable. Not ever.

    Best (‘cept for aforementioned in-laws)-
    Jersey Girl

    ______________________________________________________________

    “I set the fire, just to see the flame.”
    Green Day

    Reply
  14. 14

    Ellen

    I was once gifted with a fruitcake by someone who had only days before been asking me about my celiac disease. There was no question she knew it was wheat, and no question she knew I couldn’t eat it. I felt so confused and irritated. It’s hurtful! And a relative still gives me “gifts” of things with ingredients I’m allergic to, and that he knows I’m allergic to. It’s extraordinarily passive-aggressive and nasty. My fantasy response to scenes like this: next time, lovingly wrapping a box of rat poison in pretty paper with a fancy bow… (Ok… only in my fantasies!! Sometimes you just have to vent, even if it’s only in your imagination!)

    I estranged myself from my immediate birth family 23 years ago, and it was the best decision I ever made for my health and sanity. It’s more tricky if it’s your in-laws — you don’t want to put your spouse in the middle — but I still would not personally travel long distances to subject myself to being treated that way.

    Just to be charitable — how old are the in-laws? Is this kind of nastiness a new behavior, or are there any other signs of, perhaps, an emerging cognitive issue? Just to throw that out there. I have known people who have inexplicably started to act like hateful jerks, but in hindsight it turned out it was the first sign of an actual medical problem. (But that’s just me trying to be charitable — if they’ve always been like this, then they are just passive-aggressive and mean.)

    Reply
  15. 15

    Renee Katz

    I’m not sure this is something to get so hysterical about. I have a grandma who is 90-something and she really just does not ‘get’ celiac disease, but I do not go flying off the handle at her. Also she tells me it’s okay to ‘eat a little’ gluten, she comes from a different era, she probably thinks it’s like lactose intolerance, most people are not trying to be hateful and insensitive, they just can’t apply principles or grasp abstract ideas very well.

    Reply
  16. 16

    bill

    Gluten Dude says, “There was more to the email she sent me. It was inexcusable.” If that’s the case, I think that more of the message should have somehow been conveyed before reaching the conclusion “get them out of your life. It’s inexcusable for anyone EVER….” It’s not right for Dude to advocate breaking up the family unless he can explain the ‘inexcusable’ aspect of it. Christmas is so totally about family that advocating for a breakup because of a Christmas present seems petty and foolish, unless we get a better explanation. I think you should reconsider, Dude.

    Reply
    1. 16.1

      Ellen

      Not every family is worth saving, sad to say. There is so much pressure in our society for people to tolerate abuse in the name of “family.” Sometimes it is actually healthier to get away and remove oneself from an intolerable situation. I speak from personal experience.

      Reply
    2. 16.2

      Gluten Dude

      Fair points Bill. They’ve spent seven years of holidays together and the SIL doesn’t make things easy. There is a history there.

      Reply
  17. 17

    Greg

    I’m not one to be overly sensitive about things but I would take it personally if it was me in this person’s shoes. If they don’t “understand” after seven years, they DON’T CARE. And that’s rude. My SIL made the effort to make at least a couple dishes gf for me this thanksgiving. Of course I had to pass on the stuffing and rolls but having a few dishes I knew were safe so I could enjoy dinner allowed me to relax and enjoy. I certainly wouldn’t travel a significant distance to see people who don’t care enough about someone to bother making a couple of dishes safe. It shows that they don’t care.

    Reply
  18. 18

    MerLow

    OMG!! This exact scenario happened to me! A few Christmases ago I received a box from my in-laws addressed to our family. I set it on our built in butcher block in our GF kitchen, so I could grab a sharp knife to cut the tape. When the box popped open cookie crumbs exploded EVERYWHERE on my GF cutting surface! Gluten filled crumbs of contamination!! I was furious! I told my husband to call his mother and tell her if she’s going to send me poison, at least warn me first! Ugh! That next year I received a birthday gift from them from Harry & David. It was a tower of boxes, one had a (real) cake, one had (real) cookies and the top box had a pear. I wrote a note thanking them and that the pear was delicious. How stupid can you be? It’s not that hard….

    Reply
    1. 18.1

      ellen

      UGH!! What an awful “gift!” I really don’t understand people. It sounds like your in-laws are expressing their displeasure in a most passive aggressive way for “making” their son be gluten-free. Either that, or they are really stupid. I think I would’ve been in tears for days over that butcher block… Sigh.

      Reply

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