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March 18, 2006

Decorating Easter eggs the allergy free way

How do you keep the tradition of decorating Easter eggs alive if you have a child who is allergic to eggs? For the first several years it bummed me out so much I couldn’t even think about an alternative. Do I let the other kids color eggs so they get to experience the smell of vinegar and the magic of swirling colors? I concluded that it would make my daughter feel horribly left out. So, could she dye eggs too? Would it give her hives or a worse reaction? I felt sad for my child who has to live with an egg allergy. I felt angry that she even has allergies. I felt uncertain if I was being overly protective or cautiously safe. And I was mad at myself for having so many feelings! With all of these overwhelming emotions, I chose to skip this tradition. And each Easter, thinking of my childhood, I felt a little pang of sadness. Then, over the years, I chilled out and wised up!

I decided to make a new family tradition, including both the tried and true favorite of coloring eggs and the avoidance of the dreaded protein. We first tired coloring fabric eggs. It certainly was a fun activity, but the end result didn’t give ME that family tradition feeling that I was looking for. Instead of sitting them out in a basket, we ended up playing football and shooting hoops with them. The ceramic eggs were out because I had 4 kids under the age of 6! I wanted to decorate as a family. Enough said. I finally found plain wooden eggs at our local craft store. We had fun as a family painting our eggs with marvelous colors and patterns! We all signed and dated our creations. Now each year, I put out our special basket, fill it with fake grass, and carefully place each egg in one at a time. To every other eye, it looks like a cute Easter decoration made by little kids. But for me, it’s so much more. It marks my passage from a world where food allergies controlled my feelings (and life, I guess) into a world where I feel more in charge, more confident and more at peace with living with food allergies.

It may seem really obvious to decorate “fake” eggs instead of real ones. I guess I needed to YET AGAIN experience that emotional rollercoaster of parenting-a-child-with-food-allergies. Then I come to that peaceful, “it’s really not that bad” state, and all seems happy again. It’s not only Easter eggs that have thrown my emotions into a whirlwind, it’s the everyday things too; a classmate bringing in donuts unannounced, a party invitation involving something your child can’t do without A LOT footwork by you, a friend at the park eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with lots of peanut butter smeared across their face. The list goes on and on.

I guess this part of our lives won’t change until there is a cure for food allergies. But with each trip on the rollercoaster, I am learning that I am a strong person and I do have the knowledge and confidence to raise my children safely in a world filled with allergens. I realize that I can create our own family traditions that have as much meaning for my children as my childhood traditions have for me.

Posted by Ann Marie at March 18, 2006 11:19 AM


I'm so glad I found your blog! At last, someone experincing the same stuff, the same mixed emotions, sadness and dread! Just like you I gave up on the egg decorating thing for a few years. Nobody could understand why I wouldn't just let her decorate some eggs, and I took felt a little confused about whether I was being too cautious or making the right choice. I really came to hate Easter more than I hate other holidays (there's always something to hate about a holiday in a multiple food allergy family). Then I found paper eggs at the craft store. They look like they are made of kraft paper. Last year the kids and I used a glue/water mix and bits of colored tissue paper and little pictures they cut out to decorate them. I think they are lovely, and it's somewhat close to the egg decorating experience for us. I think we'll do it again this year. Keep up the wonderful posts, I'll keep checking in!

Posted by: Laura at March 19, 2006 5:42 PM