Life is too short to spend holidays with people who make you feel like shit. Repeat after me, I am an adult and get to choose who I am around, at all times, including the holiday season. I am an adult and get to choose who I am around, at all times, including the holiday season.
I am so happy to be at a point in my life where I am fully at peace with who I need to spend the holidays with. I’m not quite sure why I allowed myself to suffer all of those years – but since I am certain there must be some of you who also have your holidays ruined by mean relatives – I am going to share my story.
For the last 15 years of his life, my father and I did not get along. Since he died, I’ve made peace with our relationship. I’ve forgiven both of us for being human and completely dropping the ball on the whole father-daughter thing. But when I look back on how I spent the holidays while he was alive, I just shake my head and think, Why?
He was your typical stubborn, old-school, Italian. Whatever the reasons were that we didn’t get along – and however much of it was his own fault – he would never admit to it. He much preferred the “intimidate into submission” route. I think my father intimidated everyone in the world but me. I was just too stubborn for his tactics to work; his large stature, silence and constant grimace did nothing but piss me off more. When his go-to tricks didn’t work – he would just flat-out ignore me.
I know my father loved me – but because of the aforementioned stubbornness and latent old-school anger, instead of letting things go – he just pretended I wasn’t there. I’m not kidding. I would show up to my Aunt’s house every year for Thanksgiving and subject myself to hours of my father being a passive-aggressive, silent bully and everyone pretending they didn’t notice. And every year I thought the same thing; “Why do I put myself through this?”
The ideal scenario would have been that we both would have just gotten over ourselves, talked things out, and moved on. For some reason, no matter how many times we tried – it never worked. My brother always insists that my father loved me most of all. I don’t doubt that with the hindsight and clarity that death brings. I just really think I reminded him of all of his parenting failures – the ones he hated himself for – and by default, the ones he ended up hating me for.