To the Loved Ones Who Get Why We Bring a PB&J to Thanksgiving Dinner

The other day my cousin sent out a group text giving out the details for the Thanksgiving party she and her husband are hosting. Pretty soon my family members were bantering back and forth with tales of past feasts and pictures to prove it. I couldn’t help but pause for a minute. You see, out of all of the things listed on the menu, my daughter will not eat one thing. Not the yams that remind me of my mom who has since passed on. Not the green bean casserole prepared by my cousin. Not even the star of the show, the turkey. This saddens me, but we will still make the best of the day.

My husband and I have known for years that our daughter is a picky eater. She takes it to a whole other level. There are many foods that just don’t taste right or feel right in her mouth. This is just one part of her autism, a disorder called sensory processing disorder. Her brain doesn’t process sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes the way it should.

On Thanksgiving, turkey will not be on her plate. Thanksgiving is meant to be a joyous occasion. If the traditional Thanksgiving foods are a part of my daughter’s meal, she will be anxious and will not enjoy the day. Instead, I will pack her a lunch full of her favorite foods.

Thankfully for us, our family members understand my daughter’s challenges. They love and accept my daughter just the way she is.

On this day of giving thanks, I’m thankful for family members who understand that while the turkey is an important part of the day, it’s also a day for making memories with loved ones.

To my family, I just wanted to say thanks for keeping mum about my daughter not eating the foods you so lovingly prepared. You know this is no reflection of the love she feels for you. She cherishes the time spent with you. In her mind, the fact that you love and support her in spite of her challenges means the world to her. As her mom, your acceptance of her as a member of your extended family is huge. Unlike those with visible disabilities, hers are hidden. That doesn’t make them any less difficult for her or us as her parents. In some ways, it’s harder.

Thank you again for going out of your way on this memory-making day. My daughter cherishes these moments.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or illness during the holiday season, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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