Thanksgiving is over and I am reflecting on the fun holiday that brings families together. There are so many things I am thankful for…my husband, kids, my job, my passion and so much more. But I was both delightfully surprised and intrigued when my brother, who was diagnosed with celiac in 2008, said he was thankful for celiac disease.
When I asked why, he said because it brought the family closer together. His wife echoed his sentiment.
I never really looked at it that way. But now that I think about it…..
I did an entire post in 2009 entitled “Be Thankful it’s Just Celiac Disease”. But being thankful for celiac isn’t (in my view) the same thing.
Being Thankful FOR Celiac Disease
I should be thankful for celiac disease. It has helped my daughter Emma be the young lady she is today. She has matured more quickly (what young kids do you know who can find, let alone read, food ingredient labels?). She’s more empathetic (she really feels for other people/kids who are treated differently or badly).
Would she have been that way without celiac disease? Well she may have been empathetic, but my husband and I never would have seen the importance in reading food labels as early as elementary school.
I (and my family) should be thankful for celiac because it made me a better cook. I am more willing to cook with real ingredients instead of highly processed items. I am better with experimenting and food substitutions. Also, we all understand cross contamination and the importance of keeping ingredients as pure as possible.
In my brother’s case he said the celiac diagnosis brought the family closer together. What does that mean? From my perspective, it suddenly brought out celiac disease as a family issue. We could no longer just say—that’s what Emma has. Not to say that Emma wasn’t fully supported by the family. Because everyone considered her needs when we were together.
But the gluten free lifestyle became more than an occasional exception –when they saw our family—it had become the norm which forced everyone to be more educated.
My relationship with my brother has gotten closer as a result as well. Emma was diagnosed with celiac for 8 years before his diagnosis. Suddenly I was able to help him feel better. His wife really jumped in to make sure he had all the tools he needed to stay gluten free. But also my brother and Emma now share a very special, common bond.
My brother’s own family (wife and kids) are a lot closer as well. His years of “celiac fog”, extreme fatigue and ill health were tough on everyone. After going gluten-free my brother was “back”!
Now throw in my dad’s gluten-freeness. Never officially diagnosed with celiac, he is finding being gluten free is having a dramatic effect on his health.
When nearly 40% of our family must be gluten-free, moments like Thanksgiving, and other holidays where dining is a focal point, become very special—and make you reflect on what you’re thankful for. In this case– we’re thankful for celiac disease.