Playing Santa

A friend reminded me, “It’s your little guy’s third Christmas!” I almost didn’t believe her. Wow. He should be an old pro at this now.

Our little guy doesn’t understand Santa. That’s fine with me. I have avoided the topic completely because I don’t want him to be scared by the idea of a weird man coming into our house.

As far as he knows, the only people who come into his house are his parents, his dog, and family and friends including our friendly landlord. When we’ve had workmen in the house, he gets very excited, but everyone is happy when they leave and we can settle back into our lives. 

At daycare they have Santa visit and the kids get a chance to sit on his lap. Last year we got three photos of him with Santa. It was almost a diary of events. The first one he is looking at Santa with suspicion and the next two are him in hysterics. He’s so distraught that it’s actually comical. But I’m happy I wasn’t there to witness it — I would have been upset.

This year at daycare he sat on Santa’s lap once again. The photos I got back are of a stoic little boy. It’s like he knew he had to be brave and get through it. Poor kid.


Last week I happened to go to the mall for a quick errand and saw the mall Santa. He’s a natural with a real beard and everything. I would love a picture of my son with him, but I don’t think it’s worth traumatizing him. I’m still trying to decide if I should stop by and try…is it worth it? We’ll probably wait until next year.

My son is getting a lot of presents. Much of it is practical stuff though, including snow boots. I don’t know what happened but within the past month he has grown out of 24 month and 2T sizes and is solidly 3T on top. It’s great timing to run out of clothes right around the holidays.

Not a talented wrapper

I think about other families with limited means that have small children. I wonder how they keep up with the expenses. I can find cheap clothes, but one big expense is shoes. I take my son to the shoe store to get measured and he needs a new pair of shoes about every three months. Little kids’ feet grow quickly and one pair can run $50. I don’t know how other families do it.

This year I took the No Kid Hungry pledge and made a donation towards ending hunger in America. Earlier this month Share Our Strength partnered with food bloggers to Share Our Holiday Table. You really should check out all of the fantastic recipes these phenomenal bloggers created in support of No Kid Hungry.

(Not sure if you saw what The Bloggess did last week. She played Santa in a big way.)

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49 thoughts on “Playing Santa

  1. My daughter was frightened of any "mascot" type of thing –I remember at her preschool they had a health fair, and someone was dressed in a kangeroo costume (I have no idea why), and she just freaked. We never took her to sit on Santa's lap –that tradition has just never been appealing to me, and I try to stay as far away from malls as possible during this season (and most of the year!). Plus, I know she would have been traumatized.

  2. A good thrift store has kids clothes at great prices. Usually the last week of a month is 50% off…we find great brands and things that are barely worn. 🙂

  3. Sears and Target have kid shoes for under $20. I won't spend more than $20 on a pair of kids shoes that she will only wear for a few months!

  4. If he is growing out of shoes quick than get cheaper shoes (i.e. Walmart, Target, Payless). Yes, they wear out quicker, and may not be cheaper for that reason for adults. But if they only need to last a few months, there is no need to get top quality shoes that won't fit long enough to wear out. Also stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and the internet in general have good deals on name brand shoes.

    Personally, I rarely spend more than $40 on shoes for myself. DSW clearance section has a great selection on quality shoes.

  5. Re: cheap shoes for kids. For me it's about quality. I heard that until age two little kids only have two bones in their feet — the rest is cartilage. I won't take any chances that he'll develop foot problems (my husband has flat feet) and buy stride rite.

  6. I was out with my (20-month-old) niece when we saw a mall Santa. I asked her if she wanted to take a picture with Santa (not that she knows who he is) and she got all excited saying, "yesssss yessss!". We walked over closer to him and suddenly her eyes grew wide and she grabbed onto my leg for dear life, refusing to move any closer to this 'Santa' creature!! I decided maybe we'll try again next year. 🙂

  7. I think striderite is overrated. I get my kid's shoes at Kohl's mostly. Sketchers are all he will wear now (he's almost 6), but when he was your little guy's age, I got him either Osh Kosh or Carter's, and they make decent shoes. With sales and coupons, I could get him shoes for between $10 and $20.

  8. It's not correct that children only have two bones in their feet. The bones in their feet haven't ossified yet and are soft and pliable like cartilage. As long as a child has enough room in their shoe, the shoe is adequate. Flat feet are not produced by cheap shoes.

  9. Payless Shoes has really good deals with buy one get one half off and they usually send out coupons at the same time. They have a great brand called SmartFit that has excellent support without the StrideRite price (something we cannot afford with two boys that will each go through at least 2 sizes a season at this point). I spent $40 in September and with sales/coupons managed to come home with four pairs of brand new supportive shoes for my kids. Shoes can be done reasonably:)

  10. Well, if you will only but Stride Rite then there is not much you can do to save money.

    I have four children and while I know many aren't comfortable with this, I do buy used shoes in the smaller sizes. Little kids grow so quickly that I can easily find used shoes with no signs of wear that ended up at the thrift store because they were outgrown before they'd been worn more than once or twice.

    For my older children, I buy nice shoes for the ones that they wear everyday (but still not Stride Rite) and get cheap dress shoes at Payless for Sundays and special events.

  11. I wish schools and daycares would stay away from Santa and let that be a family decision. My parents didn't want to do the "Santa thing" with us and it was basically forced on them by teachers telling us that Christmas was about Santa giving kids presents. Suffice it to say, my sister and I didn't believe for long.

    Personally, I don't want to "do" Santa with my kids either and would prefer if schools/etc. didn't mess with that. I'd rather Christmas be about family and gifts come from the actual family members who bought them. I'll have to figure out how to deal with not letting my kids spoil other kids' fun though. I liked the suggestion one friend made about telling your kids Santa is a fun game grown-ups play and to play along.

  12. I honestly think you worry too much! I think any or all of your health/digestive problems have a lot to do with your constant anxieties. You've worried about getting "caught," what lunch ladies and total strangers think of you, Santa, shoes, day care, McDonalds, and more for so long, it's all getting to you. Don't underestimate the correlation between mental and physical health. Some things are out of your hands, and that's ok too. Merry Christmas!

  13. Kelly — I can't imagine shoe-ing a family with four kids! You deserve a metal. I can buy new shoes because I have only one kid. I'm bet if I had more kids, I would be less uptight! 🙂

    Anonymous — I know I worry too much. How do I make it stop? 🙂

  14. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! I love the idea above of telling your kids that Santa is a fun game that grown-ups play. Just let him be a fun symbol of the holidays, and explain that part of the fun of the holidays is chatting with Santa about gifts. You really won't be able to prevent him from being exposed to Santa, so you might as well get ahead of the situation by explaining in a way you're comfortable with, before someone else beats you to it.

    Right now, he's too young to worry about the history of Saint Nick and Kris Kringle and the like, but these are stories you can phase in over time. You can show him "Miracle on 34th Street" not because of the religious message but because it's a fun story about goodwill triumphing over consumerism.

  15. I have read your blog from the very beginning. I LOVE it!! I just read yesterday's second post….I am so impressed!! Your closing remarks were fantastic. I am a firm believer in being who you are and not letting other people dictate how you act or react. Your voice has gotten stronger throughout this process and now your personality is coming through. I love reading your thoughts and I hope you continue to let us share in your life.

    Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let us all in!

  16. I'm a SAHM and my fiance is a 2nd year truck driver, so the money isn't exactly rolling in. At best, his income this year will be about $30k for our family of 3 which really doesn't allow much wiggle room for "frivolous" (LOL) items like clothes for any of us. I recently discovered a local church that offers a used clothing ministry where you can get an 8 gallon bag of clothing for $1! All you can fit in the bag, and if you fold/roll right you can fit a lot of clothes in that bag, especially for kids. As for shoes, I normally get discounted ones from Wal Mart at the end of the season in two or three sizes too big so they'll be the right size when the season rolls around again. I also get a lot of new clothes at the end of season for $1 or $2 each piece this way. The kicker will be our wedding next month. The suit jacket alone is around $20. You know how many clothes I can normally get for $20, let alone the cost of my wedding dress which will be around $130! I know, I'm a cheapskate, but when it comes down to the choice of keeping the lights on or wearing the latest styles I choose electricity.

    As for Santa, my mother told me that when I was about 5 or 6 she sat me down to tell me the truth. Apparently I responded "Mommy and Daddy are Santa Claus." I never really bought that myth for some reason and I don't expect my 4 year old son to. I may be surprised, I may not, but if he comes up to me and asks me for the truth, I will definitely tell him.

  17. Completely off topic…are we only allowed to comment on the most recent posting? Or at least what has been posted that day?

  18. $50 shoes for a child – are you insane! I don't spend that much on my own shoes. Target – super cheap and super cute. And I never have problems with them wearing out.

  19. To 'anonymous' who said they wished schools didn't 'do' Santa I agree. I was shocked when there wasn't even a note sent home asking if we wanted to opt out of the Santa stuff. I wouldn't have chosen to opt out but I'm sure there are some parents who don't want their kids to participate.

  20. I second the good quality shoes but know how expensive it can be to "shoe" two toddlers. Mrs. Q, have you joined the Stride Ride "club?" I usually save about $5 a pair and if I'm really organized and clever, I'll use a coupon that they send me in the mail and can knock off another $5-$10. Depending on where you live, Stride Rite also has an outlet store.

  21. We don't "do Santa" at all. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, not some scary dude breaking in our house and watching our kids all year!!

    Also $50 bucks for shoes?? NEVER! My kids usually get WalMart or Target shoes. They have had some stride right, nikes, etc but they came from consignment sales or Goodwill. Can't imagine spending that much for shoes because on average they do go up a size every 3 months and they need sneakers, dress shoes, and usually boots or sandals. That would be a minimum $150 every 3 months! NO WAY we could ever afford that!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  22. I bought Stride Rite for both kids for the first 2 years and then switched to less expensive. We are HUGE thrift store fans and we get a lot of shoes there. Some have hardly any wear. My daughter wants to own a LOT of shoes so second hand is a way to make that happen.

    Yeah, the Santa thing is tricky. My kids believed until 11 and 9 respectively. This will be our first Christmas without and it's not quite as magical. It's a very personal decision and you'll do what works for you.

  23. Kohl's carries a brand of shoe made by StrideRite and with their sales and coupons, you will pay way less than $50.

  24. I agree that Santa should be kept out of school because of all the different beliefs and economics of the classroom. My daughter is around the same age as Mrs. Q's son so she's just sort of learning about Santa, however, if it weren't for the Grandparents I don't think we'd do Santa at all. Right now we can only afford one or two presents for her but we go to all 3 grandparents house on Christmas Day so she gets Santa presents there. Our budget is also why the grandma's get a lot of my daughters clothes and shoes (most of them come from ebay in large bundles for really low prices)

  25. I would not buy 2nd hand shoes for anyone, especially a child…unless they were shoes they were only going to wear once.

    I did stride rites for all our kiddos for the first 2-3 years as well. But, my kids go through shoes maybe every 6 months. Look for sales in store or online.

    Depending on the sales, I can get a pair of kids Nikes for $30 or so these days.

  26. I worked as a photographer/greeter for Santa and the Easter Bunny at a kiosk in a local mall.
    My first week on the job, parents would often bring in children that DID NOT WANT to see Santa. It would always go the same, kids crying, parents yelling at the kids, and the kids getting extremely worked up- a couple kids tossed their cookies. I got fed up with the drama and decided to find out just why the kids were acting this way. So I asked the kids why they didn’t want to see Santa.
    Most of the kids said the reason was because their parents had said Santa wouldn’t bring them any toys if they were bad and had said something about how they were acting badly just before seeing Santa. Others were upset because they had been told not to talk to strangers or sit on their laps, but were now being told they had to or else he wouldn’t bring them anything. Some were afraid of Santa because of previous bad experiences.
    My next shift, there was a little girl that did not want to see Santa, but her Mom had to have pictures of her with Santa. Mom was getting flustered, so I asked if I could talk to her daughter while my manager talked to her about the photo cards (she was planning on getting them, but had questions). I told the girl that her Mom just wanted a nice photo of her sitting on Santa’s lap so she could send it to her family so they could see how cute she was in her holiday outfit. I told her that she didn’t have to talk to Santa if she didn’t want to, but that Santa was really nice and just wanted to know what she would like for Christmas and if she was trying her best to be good. I told her that getting her photo taken would not take very long if she just sat still, looked at my hand when I waved, and smiled.
    She marched over to Santa, I introduced them, helped her sit back to get a good angle, and went back to take the photo. It only took one shot to get an excellent photo. While her Mom finished up with the photo cards, she stayed and chatted with Santa. She even gave him a bear hug before leaving.

    I had heart-to-heart chats with kids that were terrified about meeting Santa. I only had one kid that even after that he still did not want to go out of hundreds. I had several kids that I had talked to come by to just visit with Santa and myself- including the girl I wrote about, she stopped by five times while I was working.
    If your kid is scared of Santa, find out why and address it. Santa should be fun. (In my family, Jack Skellington was the one that brought the coal if you were bad.)
    If the line is long, skip it. Come back another day or find out when Santa gets off of break and line up just before then.
    If you do decide to wait, have something quiet and fun for the little one to do. The cutest thing I saw was a little girl waiting in line get the other kids around her to color on some paper she had- they also played charades.
    Been waiting in line for a while and the little one has to go? Don’t tell them to hold it. Santa only has a limited number of suits and he has to go shower and change when a number happens. Let the greeter or manager know and they should be able to hold your spot in line- if they can’t, ask the people in line around you if they could hold your spot. Many were fine with it as it could have been them asking just as easily.

  27. $50 for a pair of kids' shoes is nuts. That said, I did shop at Stride Rite when my daughter was a toddler because she had very wide feet, and at the time it was hard to find shoes in wide sizes anyplace else. Once she was about 3, her feet got narrower and she could wear Payless and Target shoes. I switched then and never looked back!

  28. I agree on the Santa issue too. Sure, I had a blast with it as a kid, but now as an adult I see it should really be a family only decision and not pushed on them in public, schools, ect. This is one of reasons I'm now against it:

    My cousin (she's much younger than me) was raised Jewish and she would be so sad that she wasn't allowed to take pictures with Santa like the other kids b/c she was Jewish and Santa was only for kids that believed in Christmas.

    Also, all the classrooms at school had little Christmas trees and she cried and cried for years that she didn't get a pretty tree like everyone else. My aunt finally broke down and bought her a tree, but she called it a "Hanukkah Bush" and they put the Star of David on the top.

    I feel that if Santa wasn't coming to the schools to pass out toys and there were no trees in the classrooms, this wouldn't have been an issue. (*side note: we grew up in a very small southern baptist town…hence the Christmas trees being acceptable in schools at the time)

  29. jeez you sure are nice, that creepy anon telling you about your digetive issues, lol …literally made me lol:) i learned more than i needed to know about kids feet by reading this comment section. 🙂 love your attitude. ttysoon

  30. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you are a little bit too overprotective of your son. Diets free of this and that, the fear of Santa… You're just setting him up for allergies and social fear. I admire what you have done here on this blog, but sometimes you just have to live and let live…

  31. Growing up my parents never told me each Santa was real or e came into the house. In fact we celebrated the spirit of Santa who had lived at one time, each year by giving presents to each other. They just warned us not to tell the others so that they could keep the game for as long as they could. I was never traumatized not believing in Santa because I knew that he was real, only was no longer able to help so we had to do so in his place.

  32. "Diets free of this and that, the fear of Santa… You're just setting him up for allergies and social fear."

    I agree with that. It seems like you are the type of person who would have a fit if your kid had an ice pop with any sort of artificial ingredients. Let the kid be a kid, don't ruin his childhood and make him neurotic about everything.

  33. Nothing like free parenting advice, huh? It's worth about as much as it costs.

    I did Stride Rite until my daughter was about 3 for the same reason you are: feet are really important to the rest of your life! Now that she's 10 we get shoes at Kohls or Target, and the shoe purchase is often driven by what's popular, within certain parameters set by me, of course. 🙂

    This is the first year that my daughter hasn't "believed" in Santa –and thank god!! When they're really little, it's easy to keep up the pretense, but by the time she was 8, it was really hard to keep all the stories straight. Finally, last spring, after Easter, she asked me if the Easter Bunny was real. I was relieved to say no, and she went on to ask about all the other magical characters –tooth fairy, santa. She thought about it for a little while but wasn't too sad.

    One thing that bothers me about Santa, as kids get older, is that they think the presents don't cost any money. So why do some kids get more than others? These are questions that kids don't think about at 3 or 4, but they certainly could at 8 or 9. If I were to do it again, I think I'd make only one present a year from Santa, and the rest from people she knows.

    But how you deal with all these parenting decisions is really determined by the personalities of you and your child. I guess that's why we don't all get a book on how to be great parents when we leave the hospital.

  34. Thanks Renee — great point about the one present from Santa! I love that tip. When you've got one kid and you don't know if/when you'll have another, it's ok to make sure they have what you think is the very best, right? I love my kid so much. He's perfect.

    (By the way, I closed comments on the previous posts)

  35. I'm an only child, so pictures of me litter my mother's house. Every Christmas she puts out all of my pictures with Santa, and in the first four my face is completely red and you can see an extra hand in the photo on my leg…. My dad had to hide behind Santa and hold me so I'd stop crying. I was not scarred in the least by this, and the pictures make for great memories now! I'd recommend taking your little one 🙂

  36. My son didn't like Santa either until about 4 1/2 yrs old. Then he was able to sit on his lap. We go to a garden park that has a Holiday lights display, we have to pay to go, but we get the same 'real' Santa every year.

    Just so you know, I, too, bought Stride Rite for my guy when he was little. In fact, I even bought his sneakers there this year! Our feet are very important and what we do now with them will help us when we are older.

    And the comment about the allergies, well, let's just say my Mother just asked me the other day why my son has peanut & egg allergies. She said "what did you do to get a child with those allergies?" Well, what do you say to that? I don't wish allergies on any child, but when you have a child with them, you quickly understand. You also learn to pay attention to what your/his body is telling you. Most people don't correlate those things.

    Also, I was never a worrier, but after my son was born – good grief, I turned into a first class worrier. I am getting much better but it has taken years. You too, will get better. Have a happy break and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to reading next year.

  37. Never commented before, but I had to say, my kid grew out of his 24M and 2T shirts in like, a week, I swear. One day they fit, and the next I'm like, crap, they're too short and the sleeves are too short! He's 2-1/2 now, and I figured they'd fit for a while…but nope! Trying to create a 3T wardrobe with last year's clearance buys and whatever I can get cheap right now! And as for shoes, he either grows out or wears out shoes so quickly that I mostly go the Payless or Target route, though my sister-in-law works for Nike so sometimes we get gift shoes…awesome 🙂

  38. Anonymous said…
    Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you are a little bit too overprotective of your son. Diets free of this and that, the fear of Santa… You're just setting him up for allergies and social fear.

    1. You cannot set a child up for allergies. My child is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. Please enlighten me and explain how in the world I set him up for these allergies. I am sure you have a lot of scientific evidence to back up your words so please do share. I would love to learn more about setting children up for allergies.

    2. Since when was it acceptable to come onto someone's blog and spout off parental advice and judgement? This is HER blog so she is entitled to say/thing/do/type whatever she pleases. I cannot get over the number of people who find it perfectly ok to cast opinions and judgements. Who really gives a rat's arse what she feds her son or what she believes? It is her child, her life.

    3. I appreciate Mrs. Q; she has sparked some great conversation, opened up my mind to food choices and helped me become more aware of nutrition. Thanks!

  39. The person without opinions and who has never offended anyone cast the first stone.

    Cry me a river. Build a bridge and get over it.

    Mrs. Q keep on keeping on.

  40. I have flat feet. I wore special shoes as a kid, it didn't help. Made ballet a lost cause.

    My kids wore shoes I could afford.

    Worry and being over protective do not cause allergies. Genetics might. Not a lot has been proven as to what exactly causes allergies to food/proteins or food intolerance's
    (my oldest is allergic to peanuts and soy, and had several intolerances to things like peas, fresh green beans, canned tomato sauce which got better the older she got, peas still bother her and she is almost 23.)

    This is not a News blog. This is a blog about one woman's journey. I'm enjoying her journey. I may not agree with everything she says or does, but that is okay. If I disagree I always try to be respectful if I respond in the comments.
    Always remember this is Mrs.Q's truth, it may not be your truth, but it is her truth.

    I always use my name, I don't understand why some people don't unless it is so they can make inflammatory statements/comments and then sit back and watch the fireworks. Which can be fun, in a disruptive sort of way.

    Do you make popcorn and read comments Mrs.Q?
    I would.

  41. In our family we get presents from Frosty or Einstein or Julia Child or whomever is relevant to the present. Sometimes the person is too obscure to know and we get a lesson from mom and dad at the same time. As a parent, it's fun to get creative about it – although sometimes at 3am it's just about getting finished with the wrapping!

  42. I felt like a bad mom that I couldn't afford Stride Rite shoes for my kids when they were little, then the pediatrician told me that it doesn't matter. She bought her toddler's shoes at Target and Payless. Then, a friend who used to work at Stride Rite told me that the Payless "SmartFit" brand are made by SR, but waaaay cheaper. Stride Rite is not necessary.

  43. You definitely CAN set up children for allergies.
    This is the quickest link I could find, but there are tons of research on this subject. Food allergies among children are on the rise, and our generation is the reason why. Yes, I am the same Anonymous as before, and I feel the need to defend myself. I don't think putting my first name on a comment like everyone else does is any less anonymous, sorry. I am behind my opinion, and I do admire this blog.

  44. This articles proves squat to me. I have been researching food allergies for three years now. I do agree they are on the rise and I do agree we need to try to discover what triggers the prevalence of these allergies. However, I assure you I didn't set my child up for his allergies. I have two boys, both living the exact same lifestyle. One has severe food allergies and the other is perfectly healthy. Care to share how that one happened?

    Food choices, unhealthy foods, pesticides, antibiotics added to foods, dyes, artifical additives, etc. are most likely the leading cause in the rise of allergies (as well as autism, asthma, cancers, etc). It isn't our generation, but rather several past decades of living this lifestyle that has evolved into what is now a health epidemic.

    I find it quite insulting to have someone imply that I (or any other person for that matter) have set my/their child(ren) up for health concerns. You may have your opinions, but I have mine, as well. I find it to be rude, uneducated and irresponsible. Please educate yourself (and I do not mean by reading articles on MSNBC) fully on food allergies before insinuating allergies are something one can give or pass along.

    To quote your article: "And it remains unclear if an answer will come anytime soon"….

  45. I second the Smartfit style from Payless. My one daughter has wide feet and Payless always has a wide for her in a style we're seeking. Not to be insulting to ANYONE because it's our right to spend money how we choose and see fit, especially when it comes to our kids, but Mrs. Q, you wondered how families with less income do it and, well, if we're sensible, then we live to our means and not beyond it. If $50 is doable every 3 months for shoes, then that is your means. Mine is less. My mom helps me out by purchasing the more expensive uniform shoes for school. Hand-me-downs, Wal-mart, Target, Payless and Thrift stores have all been helpful for outfitting my kids on a small budget. I even found barely worn pink and black expensive cleats for my 5 year old to use for spring soccer. If I hadn't found them, I'd have just purchased the payless cleats for $15. Again, I don't see anything wrong with purchasing more expensive shoes for a small child if that is not beyond one's means.

  46. Also, I had to comment on this article from MSNBC, which I do think can have some interesting articles. But, I think this statement is ridiculous: In regards to kids "Their 'bored' immune system goes out and attacks a peanut, an egg, wheat, milk — foods that are in everybody's diet quite normally," Eghrari-Sabet said.

    What if peanuts shouldn't be consumed because of the fungus they harbor and dairy protein is a foreign invader in our systems that no one should ingest because humans aren't made to digest another mammal's breast milk. And wheat? Gluten? They're glue that can muck up anybody's digestive tract from time to time. These things are not always "quite normal" to our diets and often should be eliminated due to intolerances if not allergies.

  47. Ooh! People sure have their panties in a twist over this! I know I'm late to the party, but I can echo a few things seen up north.

    I have perfect feet. Not flat, no problems with arches, nothing. I never wore Stride Rite. I think genetics has a lot to do with it. My friend is a pediatrician, and she buys her four kids' shoes at Target. I also love the Payless SmartFit. My kids spend a lot of time barefoot in the house–I think this is ultimately the best thing. God didn't invent Stride Rite, He invented feet! I'd suggest asking your pediatrician about it.

    As for allergies, I have several, so does my husband. As we see our family history, our parents are good at avoiding many of the things we are allergic to. Hmm, wonder why? Turns out the aldehyde allergiess come from both sides of my family (my dad with formaldehyde and other ones added to clothing to store in warehouses, my aunt with roses, patchouli, cinnamon, etc.) My hubby's and daughter's lactose intolerance is showing up in his mother, our seasonal allergies are common in older members of the family, and no one seems to have cats. My grandmother is allergic to shellfish–she is 100% Norwegian from the mountains near the Swedish border, and grew up in North Dakota. Not unusual that shrimp wouldn't be a normal part of her diet.

    A few years ago, we lived in France for a year. We had some great food, and found that unlike American diets, the French food was either excellent or awful. I happily ate things that would terrify most germophobes, and loved them. Also, never had food poisoning or anything, despite the nasty-smelling cheeses and delectable snails I ate. I made a decision that if it wasn't natural and enjoyable, I wasn't going to waste the calories, even when we came home. I've been healthier and happier ever since. In my way of thinking, food should come from a farm, not a factory. This is why your blog has been so interesting to me.

    I wonder about your reaction to this project; it seems like a pretty wide pendulum swing. Personally, I don't believe that there is an enemy in food–it's just energy, not your friend or foe. As long as you're eating natural stuff, your body will tell you what you need. (Not Cool Ranch Doritos, of course.) There are definitely food allergies and intolerances, but for most people it's just a matter of balance. I hope you can find a place where you are all happy and healthy.

    People get offended easily by anything we say, so don't stress too much about it. 🙂 You're just trying to be a good mom! Thank you for all your work this year on this project–it's been fascinating!

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