Am I Allergic to Christmas?

Monday, December 19, 2016

I am the last person who ever thought I would utter these words. I am a lover of  all things Christmas from way back. I love the music, the food, the movies, the traditions, the time spent with family and friends, and the making of new memories every year.  I literally start my decorating for Christmas on November 1 every year and bask in the glow of the holiday spirit well into the new year.   So am I allergic to Christmas? Well, technically the answer is no. However, apparently I do have a pretty severe allergy to some of the trimmings and trappings that go with Christmas.  And it would seem that I'm not the only one.



This year at Thanksgiving, we spent the long weekend with family out of town. And over that weekend our family decided to purchase a lovely real Christmas tree for their home. We all visited the Christmas tree farm together and then helped them erect their beautiful new tree into the living room.  Of course, I, like so many others, went directly over to the tree and breathed in it's intoxicating aroma over and over and over.  And it didn't dawn on me at the time, but I spent the entire weekend sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, and rubbing my itchy bloodshot eyes. Clearly I was having some sort of allergic reaction, but I attributed it to the amount of time that we had spent outside over the weekend. And then as soon as we came home, whatever the allergic reaction that I was having cleared itself right up and went completely away.

Then my well-intentioned husband brought home a beautiful fresh wreath made of evergreen and matching evergreen garland to hang in our home.  We hung the garland on the banister of our stairs and the wreath on the backside of our front door. And lo and behold, my symptoms started to return. Every single morning I would awake with horribly bloodshot eyes and I was so congested I could barely breathe.  It started to dawn on me that maybe I was having a reaction to the fresh Christmas greens. So I did a little research and it turns out that this is a real thing. So much so that it has been given a name - Christmas Tree Syndrome. There was a medical study completed in 2011 that references all of this. The bottom line is that fresh Christmas trees and similar greens carry mold spores which increase exponentially in the warmth of your holiday home.  For those with a sensitivity to these mold spores, (and I can't believe that that's not everyone- who wouldn't be allergic to mold???) it produces allergic symptoms similar to that of hay fever.  Ding ding ding!!  So that's what's been going on!

My wonderful husband offered to take all of our live greens down shortly after he had just put them up, and I kept saying no because it was so nice of him to get them for us to begin with. But my symptoms persisted and like the Grinch slinking through our house one morning, he took down the garland and our evergreen wreath while I was still sleeping. I actually awoke that morning to significantly better breathing and my eyes were actually clear for the first time in weeks.   So there you have it.  Case closed.

I'm not sure that I am excited about having an allergy to fresh evergreens, but I am definitely excited to be breathing a little easier at least. I guess this Christmas lover will just be lighting a pine scented candle and calling it a day as I breathe in my allergen-free artificial Christmas tree.

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