I haven’t talked to my dad in seven years, so it isn’t a surprise that he won’t be showing up at my house to watch my kids open presents on Christmas morning. Around Thanksgiving, Maria started an excellent discussion on how to brave the holidays with a relative you don’t get along with.
I put my two cents in, which is that I feel my family is much better off without toxic people like my dad showing up at holiday celebrations. Since my oldest is only two, he never has and probably never will meet his biological grandpa (on my side).
My relationship with my dad was somewhat close until I turned 18—although I wouldn’t necessarily call it good. My dad has a lot, a lot of emotional issues, many of which probably border on mental illness. My dad’s mom is now dead, but before she died, she had paranoid delusions, from what I’ve been told.
After I turned 18, I moved with my family to a different state, and my dad stayed in our hometown. I think he always meant well and wanted to keep in contact with us, but our interactions from then on were always inconsistent, explosive, and somewhat crazy. About seven years ago, I decided that enough was enough. I actually moved back to my hometown where my dad lives to live with my now-husband, but I never planned to see my dad.
He knew I was in town, and he never tried that hard to see me either. He just did his typical stuff of sending me cryptic emails, texts, and Facebook messages, until I decided to block him on social media. His stalker messages really suck because they make it seem like he’s trying hard, but I know from experience that as soon as I start communicating with him or make plans with him, he’ll freak out or flake out, one or the other. That hurts.
If I ever get into a conversation with people about how I no longer talk to my dad, many well-meaning friends bring up having regrets after he dies. In the same unpleasant relative post written by Maria, jendra_berri summed it up perfectly: “When your dad does die someday, you may feel any number of things you don’t expect. Regret may be one of them. But regret comes in many forms, such as regretting things couldn’t have been different.”
I’m not necessarily clicking my heels in the air because I take pleasure in cutting my dad out of my holiday celebrations indefinitely. But I am happy that my kids won’t have to experience any instability, unpleasant emotions, or toxicity coming from that side of the family tree—on a holiday, no less.
I’m sad that I can’t spend time with my dad, especially on Christmas. It does hurt that my dad isn’t a dad to me, and sometimes I miss him. But I know it’s better this way.
(photo: Getty Images)