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How We're Making Happy Family Memories for My Son With Severe Food Allergies

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I pride myself on being a glass-half-full kinda gal, but I must admit, I accidentally let a tiny twinge of self-pity brush the edges of my subconscious recently. Jealousy reared its ugly head (just a skosh) on a recent vacation where other families were enjoying the time-honored tradition of visiting the local ice cream parlor together. I recalled my own memories of a favorite vacation ice cream haunt and lamented the fact that my son, Nick, wouldn’t look back fondly at a time spent peppered with chocolate sprinkles and giggles.

Nick has multiple, life-threatening food allergies and a trip to a local ice cream establishment is not something we can safely enjoy.

A brief chat with my husband led to a revelation. Once again, I was letting my own experiences limit my frame of reference. My perspective is shaped by my own fond childhood memories (as it should be), but guess what — someday Nick’s childhood memories will lead to a rush of nostalgia for other reasons.

You see on our last vacation, since we couldn’t grab an ice cream, we grabbed a paddle and a kayak, and boy did he laugh when a wind gust came up and his mom had to fight her way back to shore!

Since we couldn’t grab an ice cream, we grabbed a canoe and our fishing poles and headed off the grid where we found beautiful views, peace and quiet, and too many walleye to count. Nick and his father cooked a delicious dinner over a camp stove and we all crowded into a tent under the stars.

Since we couldn’t grab an ice cream, we grabbed a sketch pad and colored pencils and Nick drew a beautiful picture of the lake outside our cabin.

Since we couldn’t grab an ice cream, we grabbed a skewer and roasted marshmallows over the fire, then gobbled up delicious homemade s’mores.

Since we couldn’t grab an ice cream, as our trip drew to an end, we grabbed our tennis shoes and hiked to a spectacular waterfall. Along the way, we chatted about the amazing memories we had made that week… memories sure to last a lifetime.

And, now that we are home, we’re going to make the best damn (homemade) banana splits you’ve ever tasted because we still love (allergy-free) ice cream too!

Family backpacking in Minnesota

Originally published: July 21, 2022
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