I recently found out that my father has been having an affair for several months. My mother knows and they are in the process of separating. However, we still plan to celebrate a “normal” Christmas — see family, exchange gifts, etc.
I haven’t bought him a gift yet and I’m not sure if I should. Or what I do with the gifts that I have? I want to do everything I can to support my mother and make it clear to my father that he lost more than a wife, but I wonder if withholding gifts is just vengeful and angry. Thoughts?
Oh how awful. I’m so sorry you have to go through this Christmas charade. I’m guessing your parents haven’t told the rest of the family yet? So you get a great big festering SECRET for Christmas… how jolly. You all have to pretend that this villain is really just a warm-hearted member of the family.
I blame the Christmas specials.
Did you ever notice that all the baddies in Christmas specials turn good and are accepted back into the fold after having a magical epiphany? The magician in Frosty the Snowman is a nice man after all, the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is misunderstood — he has a toothache, and the Grinch is so moved by the goodness and Christmas spirit of Whoville that his heart grew three sizes that day!
I can’t help but wonder if your mother is hoping that this display of family warmth and Christmas wonder will turn your father’s heart. How could you leave this? Maybe the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will wake him up with a vision of how withered and disgusting his mistress will become, how unloved he will be upon his death bed, how pathetic he is — and he’ll wake up with gratitude and empathy.
Or maybe your father will just continue to be a shit and enjoy some holiday cake-eating at everyone’s expense.
Guess where I’m putting my money?
I’m sorry Megan. You asked me about Christmas shopping. I think it’s okay to be angry with your father. I don’t think you need to spackle over your feelings and buy him a present for the sake of appearances. It’s going to take you a long while to figure out your feelings towards your father. This Christmas you are gifting him with your presence, which is quite enough.
Your loyalty toward your mom is admirable, Megan, but your relationship with your dad is your own. Please don’t feel like you have to reject your dad out of loyalty to your mom. Your mom needs to respect you will — or will not — have a relationship with him, based on the merits of your shared history and how he treats you. She can’t manage that relationship for you.
But IMO, you’re right to take your father’s infidelity as not only a personal assault against your mother, but also you and your family. He’s responsible for breaking this family breaking up. It’s okay to be angry with him about that, and feel repelled that he still retains any privileges from the family he rejected.
So if you have to buy him a present this year, I’d say you could choose from the “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” lyrics below. Consider a brain full of spiders or a greasy, black banana peel.
Happy holidays any way, Megan. ((Hugs))
You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel,
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel.
You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart’s an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders.
You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr Grinch.
I wouldn’t touch you with a
Thirty-nine and a half foot pole.
You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile,
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile,
Given the choice between the two of you,
I’d take the seasick crocodile.
You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You’re a nasty wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks.
Your soul is full of gunk,
The three best words that best describe you,
Are as follows, and I quote”
You’re a rotter Mr Grinch
You’re the king of sinful sots
Your hearts a dead tomato squashed with moldy purple spots
Your sole is a appalling dump heap
Overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.
You nauseate me, Mr Grinch
With a noxious super nox
You’re a crooked jerky jockey and,
You drive a crooked horse
You’re a three-decker sauerkraut
And toadstool sandwich,
With arsenic sauce!