My mom is a food hoarder
Dear Annie: My mother is 79 years old. She was born during the Depression, and I know that when she was younger, she didn’t get enough to eat. The problem now is that she still hoards food. She admits that she has a problem, but she can’t seem to stop buying food for the freezer. She has a huge chest freezer and two smaller freezers that are stuffed full of food.
Some of the food in the freezers must be over 10 years old. When we mention this to her, she says all that food is good because it has remained frozen. If she would still be cooking for big family get-togethers the way she did when my dad was alive, I could understand why she would want to store extra food.
I realize that I don’t have any right to tell her how to spend her money. My problem is that I know there are family members who could use this food, which just sits there getting freezer burn. Since Mom has gotten older, she has lost her sense of taste. When she does cook for us, the food always tastes freezer-burnt.
How do we tell her that her food has freezer burn when she is being kind in cooking us a meal? There are a lot of things worse in this world, but Mom is beginning to wonder why we don’t eat at her house, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. — Troubled by Hoarding
Dear Troubled by Hoarding: It’s time to unfreeze the tension with a warm and honest conversation with your mom. Tell her how you feel about the expired food. Most frozen food lasts up to three months before it starts to show signs of freezer burn.
As you said, your mom was born at the tail end of the Depression. Childhood experiences of deprivation can last a lifetime. Show understanding for her fears while helping her to make a few adjustments, but don’t expect miracles.
She needs as much love as possible, and your letter shows you feel that for her.
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