A Different Kind of Christmas
I think your son has celiac disease," said the gastroenterologist
It had been a long and difficult fall. My fifteen-year-old son, Devin, had been complaining of difficulty swallowing, and the test results showed that his throat was severely constricted. The rest of the fall had been consumed with more tests and biopsies to try to find the source of the problem and endoscopies to try to stretch my son's throat back
Now, just weeks before Christmas, the doctor was telling me that my son could not tolerate wheat, rye, or barley. They all contained gluten, which his stomach couldn't handle. The diagnosis should have been a blessing. After all, celiac disease wasn't debilitating. All Devin had to do was follow a gluten free (gf) diet. But it was obvious that Christmas, with its traditional flour based cookies, cakes and pies was going to be different.
And whatever his stomach could deal with, my teenager was not going to tolerate that! "I'll eat what I want," he said.
So then the challenge was on. How could I make what he wanted--Christmas cookies, and wonderful Holiday coffee cakes,and our family's traditional Christmas Eve pasta dinner, be what he could eat?
I hunched over cookbooks and telephoned friends and relatives trying to find recipes. But most people didn't understand that wheat is an ingredient in so many things.
"You mean Devin won't be able to eat spaghetti?" asked my youngest son.
I flipped through the diet pages I'd been given by the doctor. "Not unless I find some other kind of pasta," I replied grimly.
Thank God for the internet.
In desperation, I joined an email list for celiacs hosted by St. John's University(subscribe); and put out a call for help online. And bless those wonderful folks for sharing--the holiday recipes came pouring in.
I can't tell you they were all a success. Teenagers can be pretty picky. And many recipes that work just fine other places, fall literally flat here in mile-high Denver. But I found sources of food, and enough cookie recipes to keep a growing kid feasting.
For more information on celiac disease visit The Celiac Website