Two moms talking about our families' lives with type 1 diabetes
Traditions are important and help to define the special aspects of each family. Traditions are also a valuable way to strengthen families and create lasting memories. Christmas, one of the biggest celebrations of the year, probably has the most traditions associated with it. Whether it’s the yearly picture with Santa or the special church service to attend on Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s the annual Christmas ornament hung on the tree which captures the significance of the prior year or it could be the special cookies made with love (it must be love because they can be so time-consuming to make!). We ALL have wonderful traditions that each family can’t wait for and which sets each family apart from all the others.
When diabetes came into our lives, our family already had many Christmas holiday traditions established and most of them were centered on food. Tourtière on Christmas Eve (because my grandfather was French-Canadian); abundant Christmas baking to offer visitors and to enjoy on Christmas Day (because my grandmother was a fantastic baker); Christmas morning brunch casserole (because it was easier on Mom); Christmas ham instead of turkey (mostly because I liked it betterthan turkey when my Grandma made it) and all the trimmings that go with ham like scalloped potatoes, marshmallow salad and broccoli cheese casserole.
One decision I had to make early on in our diabetes journey was whether or not we would keep our Christmas food traditions. After all most of them could possibly affect his BG in a negative way. Were these traditions important enough to my family to risk unpredictable blood sugars over the Christmas holidays? Were these traditions important enough to sacrifice our normally healthy family food choices?
You bet they were!! My memories of Christmas growing up were ones of family and of joy. Whenever I would taste that special cookie or take that first bite of tourtière, I would smile because they tasted so good and because they made me “feel” the specialness of Christmas. To this day, whenever I taste them I “feel” Christmas and I think of my grandparents who put so much love into creating these wonderful family traditions. I decided early on that I was not going to let diabetes steal away these special aspects of our family. No, because they were THAT important, I would do the best I could to figure out how to accommodate these foods. I would learn to adjust the timing of insulin for these lower glycemic, high-fat foods so that we could still enjoy our Christmas (hopefully without crazy blood sugars but we did have years where that wasn’t the case).
Diabetes has been in our lives for thirteen years. Thirteen years of making infinite insulin adjustments; thirteen years of having good and bad blood sugar days; thirteen years of sacrificing a good night’s sleep just to keep blood sugars on track throughout the night; and thirteen Christmases filled with joy, laughter, special memories and NO regrets that we have kept all our important family Christmas traditions alive.
What are some of your family’s holiday traditions? Have you given any up because of the diabetes dragon?