The holiday season is fast arriving and we find ourselves rushing around, buying gifts, decorating, making the perfect meal, finding the perfect outfit; it adds up to a lot of time and effort. As much as we’d like to have everything go smoothly, there may be some hitches along the way.

There is a growing movement in healthy food/lifestyle choices today which can make the holiday meals somewhat tumultuous to say the least. Being a host/ess today can be confusing considering the myriad of diet choices – gluten free, vegan, organic, etc. Labelling people/diets is tricky – while it distinguishes us as free thinking individuals, it also brings up associated stereotypes, and judgements, that create further division from one another. It can leave a host/ess overwhelmed thinking ‘why can’t everyone just eat the same thing?’ An understanding that people are free to choose what they put into their bodies is a good way to begin answering that question, and remembering that some diets can be a life-saving choice helps us to be more open-minded when preparing dinner for guests.

If the importance of food choices becomes the catalyst for ‘making’ or ‘breaking’ an evening, what is the point of being together at all? Shouldn’t holiday gatherings be about each other, rather than just food choices? IF the point is to be with those we love, then make it about that.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Start by showing humility whether you are a host/ess or guest. Be willing to apologize if you offend someone, state your intentions of why you’re here together, and stick to them firmly. Your choices may get angry reactions simply because you may be shaking up their belief system of how they make sense of their world.

Be respectful, even if someone else forgets. Be an example of how you would like to be treated, even if you disagree. Facial expressions can hurt just as much as words. Be conscious of what you’re ‘saying’ non-verbally.

Be considerate and show sensitivity to other’s feelings and points of view. It may not be the best idea to put a whole intact cooked animal on the table with your meat-free guests. At the same time, if a host presents their meat dish, it may be wise to not discuss issues on their food choices either.

Keep communication open with guests. Discuss together how to make it work so they’ll feel comfortable. It could be as easy as the guest bringing their own dish. They won’t expect you to make them a separate meal and often welcome the chance to share their own food.

Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate during this time, don’t let food be the focus, merely an accessory to what is really important, and that is each other.

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