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Old Crazy? New Tradition!

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virgin-mary-holiday-anxiety-funny-ecard-zrAPost-Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to compare Old Holiday Dysfunction with New Holiday Tradition. Don’t have any new traditions? Make some up!

For example:

Old Holiday Dysfunction (OHD) — Your drunk father-in-law rails on about One World Order conspiracies while his wife passive aggressively refuses to acknowledge your casserole. “Oh, I must’ve forgotten those roasted brussel sprouts. Left them under the broiler. Oops. I suppose they were… organic?” Meanwhile, your cheater is locked in a bathroom texting with Schmoopie.

New Holiday Tradition (NHT) — Cooking dinner in your pajamas! A gathering of friends and family! (i.e., people who LIKE you!) Pumpkin pie for breakfast! All the organic, roasted brussel sprouts you can eat! A long walk after dinner and then marathon BBC dramas til the tryptophan kicks in.

So chumps — what’s your new tradition?

TGIF!

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This year I delegated. My 22-year-old son made the turkey from start to finish with supervision from me. He added some special spices that I would have never thought of.

    My 16-year-old daughter made all of the pies this year. She also made the potatoes and the sweet potatoes. She made some changes too, she put marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes and she put some garlic in the mashed potatoes. My 20-year-old son also helped. He has autism and he made stovetop stuffing for himself and he cut up the cranberry and he poured the sparkling grape juice and made crescent rolls.

    I was the cleanup crew. In the past we weren’t allowed to change anything. Both of my boys are on the spectrum for autism and my soon-to-be-ex is as well. Nothing was ever allowed to change. He married me knowing I was a great cook but he would throw a tantrum if I put cranberries in the stuffing telling me I ruined the whole dinner and the day.

    Now the biggest change is the holidays are free form. For Christmas dinner we’re having steak and duck. Everybody is super excited. And I am free, almost. I could sure use prayers that we get this settlement agreement signed and I could possibly be divorced by Christmas. Praise God for that. Thank you for this group.

  • Old crazy, I work for a week to provide a sit down meal for his family in a perfectly clean and lovingly decorated home. I plan, prepare and serve twenty to fifty people. I watch all the remainders of the meal removed from my home as his family brings their own take-out containers. I have to cook the next day as there are no left overs. I am left to do all the clean up as they walk out like the Grinch.

    New tradition, I preheat the oven, open up the frozen pizza, place it in the oven and twelve minutes later sit down to a kale, potato and bacon with a sweet mustard sauce pizza. I eat alone. Put away the leftovers, wash the dishes and I read a book.

    Nobody stole entire bottles of liquor from the bar. Nobody got drunk. Uncle Pissy Pants didn’t pee all over the bathroom. I didn’t get a migraine from the tv blasting, three different phones playing their music, then everyone screaming over the noise. There were no fights. It didn’t take an entire day to completely put my house to rights. I didn’t wonder where STBX was and when he might come home.

    Old crazy, I’m divorcing all of it! New tradition, I do what is best for me. I’m embracing all of it.

      • Dear Chump Lady, they did. I think “I presume!” is their family motto. Free of all of that, many thanks to you, my therapist and Chump Nation!

          • I’m chuckling thinking about them yesterday, at home with their empty Tupperware containers feeling sorry for themselves! Omg you are free! I would love to celebrate with you! (I’d bring wine and a dessert and pick up any takeout you requested and we could call it a day. I’d leave the leftovers for you 🙂 )

            • Gettingthereslowly, do you think they noticed one of the “appliances” were missing? You are the best guest to plan to leave the leftovers! It is my new gold standard of guest behavior. Did they steal any liquor or take all the leftovers? No! Add that name to the guest list again. I appreciate the invitation.

        • My self entitled ex FIL, after a delicious multi course T dinner, at my home of course, directed me to fill 3 or 4 China dinner plates with complete meals and Saran Wrap for him
          to take home.
          So easy to heat in his microwave!
          At that time we were a family of 5 before the schmoopie bomb exploded.
          My kids love turkey sandwiches.
          My reply? NO. I don’t think he ever forgot that. Not my problem!

          • FIL wanted the leftovers AND your china?!? Sounds like he should have brought his own tupperware… wtfukever. My ex-in-laws, when they reluctantly hosted, way in the past, got it down to paper plates and a free for all at the buffet. My mil’s special dishes? macaroni salad, chicken wings (frozen, a big bag of them) and the requisite bowl of hot dogs. Yes, hotdogs. For Thanksgiving and EVERY holiday. So glad those days are over. I salute your pizza holiday though, to each his own. I did make a turkey for myself this year, because I wanted to. I’ve done a duck and cornish game hens previously, and once a chicken pot pie. No matter what I decide to fix, I’m eating it on a beautiful plate at my dining table. I have certain standards! lol
            I will most likely be actually DIVORCED this month too! I’m in that 32yrs married group too with ya’ll.

    • Wow! You truly escaped. I am so glad for your happy pizza dinner. I wish I could have done that as well. Maybe tonight. We are the happy ones because we understand what we have left behind.

      • Mutha, I am happy. Like you, this divorce might be over next month! Putting an end to a thirty five year marriage, best gift I ever gave myself. I’ll think of you as I head to trial three days before Christmas.

          • Good luck 33 years (35 here)

            You are saying GOOD RIDDANCE TO LUNACY!

            And I say Merry Christmas to that!

            • Doctors1stwife&3kids, it’s 35 years, I’ve been trying to get divorced for nearly two years now! 37 years of being a couple, 35 years married. I’m reclaiming the next 35 years! Here is to far better Holidays!!!

              • TO – 33 years/Velvet Hammer, Spinach and ALL who are entering our 2nd halves to live as WE deserve,

                may we come to know all the blessings this horrible trauma and pain – eventually – birthed, and may we live our best lives.

                CHEERS!!

    • Oh GEEZ!!! Good riddance to that! I can only hope his schmoopie is still in the picture and she’s wearing some holiday dancing shoes!!

    • This is inspirational for me. 33 years of that kinda shit until this year. I should have stayed home and cooked a pizza due to a fight at my son’s home between 2 of DILs relatives. I appreciate your comment as it makes being alone on T Day a small vacation from crazy ok to do next year.

      • Mae, next year stay home and forego the annual fistfight. Being alone is far better than violent families!

    • 33yearsachump,
      You had me laughing at Uncle Pissy Pants! The Garden Hose That Got Away. The upside of living alone as a woman ? No more cleaning up splatter stains off the floor (or the wall).
      How tacky is that to show up for a feast, prepared by another, with Tupperware in tow ?

      • I have news; unentitled, undrunken men don’t leave ANYTHING that a normal cleaning won’t take care of!

        That’s a flag, right there!

        • This story reminds me of an old boyfriend I dumped post haste like a hot rock: We had gone out to celebrate his birthday, and we had gone back to my house. In the night, he got up and started peeing in my shoe holder, which hung over the door in my tiny apartment. Awakened from a sound sleep by the peeing, and being used to training dogs, I shouted “No!” and then put him outside. Completely forgot to let him in after that. I am sorry, but I was exhausted from babysitting a drunk the night before.

  • More of a Christmas thing than a Thanksgiving thing; but holiday focussed nonetheless.

    Old Tradition: despite my best efforts and our childrens’ best efforts and the fact that we do all the work, Mrs LFTT gets sh*tface-drunk, criticises everything while refusing to lift a finger, picks arguments with everyone (us and our guests) and generally ruins everything through a combination of sustained passive and active aggressive acts. Guests cannot leave soon enough.

    New Tradition: kids and I still do all the work, but Mrs LFTT is now Ex-Mrs LFTT and thus no longer on the scene. Same guests ….. but: no-one gets sh*tfaced; any criticism is constructive (I am more than willing to listen if it makes me a better cook); there are no arguments (unless I dare interfere with the potatoes roasted with rosemary in goose fat, in which case eldest daughter will rightly let me have it); everyone has a great time and asks “when we can do this again?”

    Funny how one person’s absence makes everything so much better.

    LFTT

    • I am so happy for you LFTT! The silver lining in the awfulness of being chumped is actually the best part! We are free to surround ourselves with people we enjoy who love us!!!!!

      It takes a while to unhook, but think of how many holidays you have to look forward to!

      • OHFFS,

        If I’m not mixing my metaphors …… my punchbowl has been flushed and is all the better for it.

        🙂

        LFTT

  • Last year: I leave the house for 8 hours on Christmas Eve so ex can spend time with the kids. Nice to be on my own for a bit and can get some last-minute shopping done, but gets lonely and sad after awhile and I’m tired when I get back.
    This year: he got an actual car instead of his failed ‘living van’, so he can come collect them and find something to do with them in his tiny caravan. Maybe he’s planning to visit my lovely out-laws in the North. What chance it would cross his mind to take the kids so they can see their Grandad, Aunt and Umcle for the first time in 2 years? 0%.

  • Mines a Christmas thing too.
    Old tradition:: he “puts up” with the kids opening their gifts lovingly purchased by me with little to no contribution from daddy dearest the whole while he sits and criticizes the money I spent on them. He’s happy to open his gifts which i similarly spent quite a bit of money on. He bestows his gifts on me( the ones my daughter shipped for and chose since he was too lazy to do so). All goes on my credit card which I pay the following month( which means I bought my own gifts,, for literally years). He enjoys the huge meal I prepare which finally shuts him up.
    New tradition: I still buy my kids lovely gifts but he has no say and I hear every year about the “gifts” he gets them consisting of useless stuff they don’t want( ie a jar of olives for a child who does not like olives). I still make a lovely meal when it’s at my home but often my daughter now hosts too. No daddy dearest to whine and complain and generally ruin the mood. It’s lovely.

    • In real time; I honestly don’t think it bothered me much; but in hindsight it sucks:

      But, for Christmas I would almost always get him something really good; (I usually saved secretly for the whole year to do it) and he would get me a robe. Not always’ there were a couple good gifts through out the years. Once some really good perfume, another year a sewing machine. But, for most years there was a huge gap. I guess I just loved him in spite of his clear selfish tendencies. Didn’t realize what the end result would be.

      I guess when you are romancing whores; you just don’t have the money or time to worry about a gift for the wife.

      • Oh my gosh, same! I would try so hard to buy him something meaningful and perfect, and he would offer to take me on a shopping spree or buy me something that HE wanted. A shopping spree sounds fun the first time, but it quickly becomes evident that he just didn’t want to try. The early years were different, very thoughtful and wonderful gifts, so it was a huge shock to the system.

        The gifts stopped the year he asked me to buy something for myself and wrap it, and he would reimburse me. UGH!

        Susie Lee, I hope you bought yourself something wonderful for the holidays this year!!

  • For years Dr. Cheaterpants, our two kids and I would make the holiday rounds. Lunch with his family, supper with mine. After we divorced 4 years ago, kids would go to his family and I would head on over to help my mom prepare our meal. Lost my mom in December last year so this is all new (and way more painful to lose my mom then it ever was to lose a fuckwit).

    This year DS21 and DD19 helped prepare our Thanksgiving meal. DS has really gotten into cooking and we searched through my mom’s things for her recipes. We brined a turkey overnight, he made homemade sour cream to make our mashed potatoes with, DD made my mom’s strawberry pretzel salad. We enjoyed each other’s company as we cooked for two days. That was what it was about for me, quality time with my kiddos and enjoying the preparation of the meal. Heck I even made yummy appetizers for us to snack on throughout the day on Wednesday while we worked on the big meal.

    Anyhow to lead up to the amusing part of the new holiday traditions. Fuckwit invited the kids over for Thanksgiving lunch at the last minute. They were actually joking ahead of time about what their dad was doing for Thanksgiving with his young schmoopie. They speculated that maybe he was going to her family’s house and what he must talk about with her dad as they must be about the same age-LOL! Then they joked about how awkward it would be if they had been invited to schmoopie’s parents too.

    Dr. Cheaterpants older sister has been taking care of their 90 year old mom and keeping her safe. Cheater was trying to get my DD19 (college kid) to go visit her last Sunday and she told me she thought he was crazy for suggesting it. Then cheaters older sister/kids’ aunt group texted cheater and kids offering to bring Thanksgiving meal to them (an hour drive each way for her) and cheater said don’t bring him any, he didn’t want it. My kids were flabbergasted he would say that and both of them said ‘just take the damn meal, it’s not about the food’. All of this to lead up to letting you all know that Dr. Cheaterpants sister and mom brought an entire meal up to my house to see the kids, me, and visit from the car. They did not go by cheaters.

    Wow! What an arse he really is and it was on full display for everyone to see this Thanksgiving. The kids and I had a wonderful time and we enjoyed seeing their aunt and mammaw from afar. It really gets so much better with time to all the newbies out there. Cheaters are really selfish and entitled and it permeates all aspects of their lives.

    I hope CN has a great holiday weekend. I am so very grateful for this Tracy and the nation. I couldn’t have made it through to meh without you all!!

  • Been out for three years now.

    The Old Traditions are still intact because they were, and continue to be great. He just didn’t value it in the same way as the rest of it.

    The difference now? None of the stress and anxiety that once existed.

    I used to be exhausted this time of the year. I did most of the XMas shopping and wrapping, most of the decorating, wrote and mailed the cards, made sure a little something was given to the teachers and neighbours. Trying to be all things to all people. I dreaded it (appreciated the tradition and time with family, but it was a bundle of anxiety getting ready for it).

    You would think that it would all be harder now that I’m on my own. But, no. It’s glorious. I love this season again. My house is decked out even more because I add to the lights and decorations every year. It’s not a job to lay it out but an amazing time with the kids. My Christmas shopping is mostly done. Wrapping gifts is a relaxing time after the kids go to bed, with a cheesy movie playing and a glass of wine on the side. I’m baking again. I got XMas cards going out again (haven’t done this in about five years because of the marriage imploding).

    New Tradition:
    What’s the difference? No him.

    It shouldn’t have gotten so hard and it wouldn’t have if I truly had a partner in life.

    My ex and I alternate having the kids XMas eve for the night. This year the kids are with him. It doesn’t upset me so much anymore, as I know my children are enjoying their Christmas morning opening presents elsewhere. I will have them by the afternoon and am so excited for what’s in store. My morning will be peaceful and lazy, giving me time to set up for the kids and pull together a nice dinner, all at a leisurely pace. Thought this year, their won’t be the big extended family gathering hosted by my cousin each year (about 20 adults and 10 kids), I’ll have my mother with me. And the I’m surprising the kids with a VR system, so we’re going to just enjoy playing with everything.

    My faith is very important to me, so as we are on the cusp of the start of Advent (the beginning of the Christian liturgical year), I want to wish everyone a “happy new year”. It’s a time of preparation and celebration, Many blessings to all as you prepare for your new beginnings, fresh perspectives, new leases of life, and celebrate your healing in the aftermath of devastation. You are worthy. You are loved. All good things are possible.

    • Same faith tradition – happy new year right back at you! This year is the year of St Mark, the winged lion. I hope it comes roaring in and blows away the cobwebs.

  • Old Tradition: Chumpy MIL makes a full feast for 7 and won’t let anyone help her clean up. No one will steal her chumpy thunder! Or alternatively a bigger group where we set her and her ex on opposite ends, all the anorexic siblings obstain pumpkin pie, or anything remotely unhealthy. Even though not having desert SIL trades out her Spode place setting so she will not be the “turkey.”

    New: Just me, my kids, the dog, at a local resort swimming in the lazy river and playing on the “beach”. They’re old enough now that after dinner, I went to the gym on my own for a while.

  • Old tradition:
    Then-husband insists on making a cheesecake. His signature dish. I buy all the ingredients and get nervous that I might have forgotten one because I learned over the years (35!) that he would rage quietly or not so quietly about my ineptitude. His cheesecake is so associated with stress that, in the end, no one eats it.

    The adult kids and I make everything else. We multitask.

    He shows off his one achievement. Did I say no one eats it? He sulks that no one eats it.

    He wants the kids to be in the house but retreats from them to do God knows what. He mopes and sulks. He gets angry that we are laughing and talking. He thinks I’m too close to the kids.

    We are all on edge.

    New tradition:
    I accidentally messed up a dessert by using expired shortening. No one complains. I don’t feel like it’s an accident punishable by death. We make cookies instead.

    I don’t have to suffer a visit with his insufferable MIL.

    This year, I had the pleasure of eating a Thanksgiving feast with my daughter who lives with me. We enjoyed cooking together. I saw my other kids by Zoom and feel so fortunate!

    My kids and I are happy and calm. Maybe one day we’ll be able to eat cheesecake without the bad association. For me, if meh were food, it would be cheesecake.

    • Wow. What a ridiculously disordered, narcissistic twit.

      My fuckwit had a signature cheesecake too. Only he was too lazy and inept to bake it. He just bought one every holiday (or most often, asked me to buy it) as his sole contribution to dinner. It was always a pumpkin cheesecake because he likes pumpkin, also knowing one of my kids and I are dairy and gluten sensitive and couldn’t eat it. He would even bring that to a potluck dinner, being too selfish to bring other types of cheesecake for those who didn’t like his beloved pumpkin. Then he’d eat it all and congratulate himself for “contributing”.

      No more stupid frickin pumpkin cheesecake for me.
      No more grumpy cheesecake Nazi for you.
      Yay!

      • Wait, what? He insisted on a pumpkin cheesecake despite your dairy and gluten sensitivity?

        It’s like these cheaters can’t help but be selfish assholes.

        I actually like thinking about this because it reinforces my feeling/wish that my ex still thinks only of himself even with his shiny new appliance. (She’s probably a bit tarnished by now. I hope for that, too.)

        F**kwits don’t change.

        Anyway, here’s to freedom for us and all of CN!

      • I have been reading about this kind of behavior. When a person deliberately brings what amounts to poison for another to eat or go hungry it must be some form of sociopathy. Even though you appear to have shrugged it off for years he probably got sick satisfaction from a hidden form of torture. It’s scary when you think about it.

    • My ex’s sole contribution to Thanksgiving dinner and prep was to make the gravy. He commandeered the entire kitchen to do it, and at exactly at the time when I was doing last minute prep of mashed potatoes and carving the turkey. He acted like it was the single most important thing that could be done, and woe was me if I “got in his way.” The first year I was on my own I made the gravy myself, and was astonished at how easy it was. Grandstanding wahoo. This year I had the pleasure of making a meal that required no gravy at all.

      • OMG! Commandeered the damn kitchen. I know we say this here all the time, but damn these cheaters are so alike! I love that you discovered that gravy making is easy. lol.

        One year I did give my ex the job of gravy. Like you, I was scrambling to get multiple other dishes ready. I thought he could handle this one thing. It went exactly as you describe, except for one thing: the recipe called for chicken stock, but we only had chicken broth. He sulked. He complained. He threatened to have to go to the grocery store and delay the meal. He wanted me to go because I was the one who had made an unforgivable error.

        Talk about killing the mood! I remember my adult daughter telling him that good cooks improvise all the time. She soothed him as if he was a toddler. He reluctantly used the broth. The gravy was fine but so not worth his mantrum.

  • Old crazy….

    Not going to in-laws (FIL was Hitler Youth, German soldier, major untreated alcoholic who when embarrassingly shitfaced yells at dining companions about God knows whatever pops into his wet brain) and enduring thinly veiled attempts to be made to feel GUILTY about not going…

    New Tradition….

    Doing whatever we feel like for Thanksgiving. Forever more. Which will always include not being around anyone drunk.

      • Yes. He is 94 and MIL is 84. She was the indoctrinated German schoolchild. At the last birthday party of his that I attended, there were pictures of him throughout his life on a table. MIL had covered the Nazi armband in the photo with mini Post-It notes even though everyone there was German of the same age group. I was watching episodes of The World At War when I was nine years old and to this day my XH knows almost nothing about the German history of WW2.

          • I was a good sport for a very long time…probably too long. But that ended one night at FIL’s birthday dinner at a very nice restaurant when out of nowhere (he was drunk) he screamed at me “YOU’RE A GOD DAMNED DEMOCRAT!”

            No one was talking about politics. I have no party affiliation. Who knows what alcohol-fueled synapses were firing. I told my husband he was welcome to dine with his family as much as he wanted but I would no longer be joining him.

            (Not to mention the formal evening wedding where he stood on the pew, yelling the bride’s name as she walked down the aisle. He continued to drink at the reception. I was wearing a strapless evening dress and felt something weird….FIL was dipping his finger in his wine glass and drawing on my. Asked shoulder. We left. My husband said nothing to his father on my behalf.

            No love lost.

            • TYPO….

              “FIL was dipping his finger into his wine glass and drawing on my NAKED SHOULDER”

              Effing perv.

              • “Oh I’m sorry ! My hand slipped!”
                Drink 🍷 thrown in pervy f.i.l’s face

        • Velvet:

          Hands down you win for awfulest party ever attended. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your in-law stories. Maybe both. But one thing is for certain and that is you are well rid of Hitler and little Hitler.

  • Most glaring in a good way is that we no longer have “The Moment Ruiner” in our midst. The guy who insisted on shaving, showering, and dressing before joining his young children to see what Santa brought them. I know he did it out of spite because I had the audacity to gleefully shout, “Come on Dad! Santa came!” up the stairs. The kids (and me) had tear-stained faces in the pics that morning. He definitely had a knack for being The Moment Ruiner.

    Now we open gifts when we want. Have dinner when we want (not at high noon because that’s how it was done in his family), pick activities we want, and don’t have to sit through a Mass telling us how to exclude others because they have different religious beliefs.

    • What a monster. What kind of vicious, petty asshole spites his kids like that? Alley cats are better parents than that scumbag.

      • My Ex was the same sort. X was a bus driver.
        At our municipal bus company public holidays were staffed in a volunteer basis. Drivers had to put their name on a list and then would be given a shift. The shifts were usually short 6 hour shifts. Because it was Christmas, pay was double-time-and-a-half . (ie 2.5 times there usual pretty high pay rate.)

        For the last several Christmases before I left him, he put his name on the list to take Christmas day work. The holiday overtime rate was great, don’t you know! (We did not need the extra money!) The kids had to hurriedly open gifts (bought by me, because he didn’t give a shit) before he left or be quiet and not open them until late if he wanted to sleep in before an afternoon shift.

        Since he was working on Christmas, poor man, no-one could be happy before he left for work. After all, he was missing out on Christmas.

        Since X was working and missing out on Christmas, we could not do anything to celebrate without him, because he would be so sad. We couldn’t visit my family because then we might not be there when he got home. If we waited and had the Christmas meal at night, with him, he wouldn’t feel like it after doing his shift. If we didn’t plan to have it after he got home, we didn’t care about him.

        Also, after he got home, the kids could not be visibly enjoying their presents or anything, because he had missed out on Christmas.

        Funnily enough, he usually managed not to volunteer for shifts on Boxing Day, when his family all got together. They would all commiserate with him in him about how hard it must be to miss Christmas Day at home.

        He lived the misery and turmoil of it all. Crying kids and ruined days made him feel powerful.

        First Christmas after I left him, he turned up on Christmas Eve to yell out on my doorstep that our kids were ungrateful c*nts for not getting him presents equal to the 6 months of partial child support he had paid. He also yelled that they weren’t getting any presents from him, because he had paid child support and that was all they deserved. I told him to leave or I would call the police.

        I am so happy to leave his narcissistic games in the dust. My two younger kids (now adults) and I have a relaxing day, with a chill Christmas lunch if whatever we like and play board games or marathon movies. During the day, we call my lovely oldest son who lives 8 hours north of us. The oldest works in retail and usually can’t get away over Christmas, but has a nice day with his housemates. Nine if the kids will see him, since he is nasty snd aggressive if the do.

        • So many typos!! Sorry!

          The last line should be “None of the kids will see him, since he is nasty and aggressive if they do.”

    • You are free! What a mean spirited, frustrating human being you have escaped! Happy for you. Today’s entire blog is making me happy for all of us. I watched an Oprah video yesterday where someone talked about people who loved “10 gallons” and were connected to people who could only love “a pint.” May we all find our 10 gallon people.

    • Oh boy – my mother was the main “moment ruiner” and then other times my father, or siblings.. Then just about every man I am ever with. Many holidays, birthdays, days of recognition of achievement, had me crying.
      I am so glad you and your children are away from that. I swear, I will never let that happen to me again.

    • What a sicko! I just can’t wrap my head around such sadistic behavior. He obviously got off on making himself central at the expense of others. Doing this to young children makes it even more reprehensible.

      Thanks for bringing up the notion of a “moment ruiner.” I’m going to go out on a limb and posit that this is a common cheater trait.

      When I think back on my ex, I can definitely see this type of behavior. He really wanted his entire family to cater to his needs, his schedule, his desires.

      He ruined many a moment. Several years ago, our entire immediate family gathered at our lake house for what was supposed to be a New Year’s Eve celebration. It was rare that all of us had time off to be together. I was beyond thrilled!

      The kids and I arrived before their dad. He wanted them to shovel a section of the lake so that they could play ice hockey when he arrived. But my kids smartly made the decision that the ice was too soft. When he arrived, he was SO pissed. Instead of embracing his kids and reveling in just being together as a family, he raged at them and stomped off to the lake, shovel in hand. The ice was mush. Nevertheless, this effed up jerk angrily shoveled away. No one helped him. At that moment, I remember hoping that he would fall in. My son simply said, “Dad’s a dick.”

      And now my ex, who insists he was “a great dad” wonders why the kids won’t communicate with him. He also feels so sorry for his schmoopie because, as he told me, “her ex was emotionally abusive.” 😳

      • Yep I can relate to the moment ruiner as well. Four years out and I always find something here that is a light bulb moment. Dr. Cheaterpants could turn any event into misery. If it was something he wanted to do and he was the center of attention, he was the life of the party and super engaging and fun. Anything he didn’t plan was absolute misery for me and the kids. He would sulk and pout. And yes Christmas, Easter, Tooth Fairy, etc… was always me. On Christmas Eve he would get super pissy that I was up late making noise setting up Santa. Then when I heard the kids up and would say let’s go with my camera in hand, he had to go to the bathroom, brush his teeth, bitching how it was too early and the kids and I were waiting. I finally started leaving his sorry ass in bed to sleep while the kids and I enjoyed Santa.

        I look back and cannot believe how much I tolerated from that always angry, moody, little bitch of a man.

  • Today is 3yr anniversary of divorce from FW. I spent yesterday home alone cuz COVID. Made a turkey breast and stuffing, talked/texted with family and friends, went for a run/walk. I can finally say that I don’t hurt anymore (could this be Meh). I am content with my life, healthier (lost ~40 lbs since DDAY), and feel incredibly blessed. There are whole days when I don’t think about FW. My sons seem to have moved on as well – we don’t mention him to each other. They do text/see him occasionally. I don’t feel compelled to keep up traditions except I will host Christmas for the grandkids depending on health of us all. Looking forward to the world righting itself with whatever new normal is. Looking for opportunities to help those so horribly hurt by COVID. Be safe and well! Hugs! It is hell for awhile and gets better every day.

  • My new tradition is no tradition. I always hated the forced celebration of days that were used as marketing gimmicks. Most of them meant nothing to me since they had a religious base and I’m not religious. When I had young kids, I had to go along, do the cooking, baking, doing all the gift buying (including for cheater’s family, none of whom appreciated it) and all that. When I still had parents I had to go along for their sake. Now I don’t have to do jack. If I choose to for my grown kids, I will. But they don’t seem that interested themselves. Fuckwit ruined family holidays for them, too. There’s no use in pretending the family isn’t fractured, that we can go on as usual as if nothing happened, and I refuse to live that lie.

    Of course they’ll still get birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and we’ll get together on holidays, but it will be low key, not at all the frantic scramble to please everyone that I did in the past. No more baking 3-4 kinds of pie, both gluten free and regular. Not a turkey plus a substitute for vegans, both gluten free and regular stuffing, and at least three kinds of vegetables, home made cranberry, gravy etc.. It was a lot. I’ve retired from doing anything that is a lot after what I’ve been through. I’m too tired. I’m also not as anxious to please with the selfish cheater and his ridiculous expectations out of the picture, always subtly or not so subtly making me think I didn’t measure up. Nothing would ever have been enough and I don’t have to ever feel that way again.
    Ahhhhhh. Sweet relief.
    Happy holidays to all.

    • OHFFS,

      Amen to all that!! Yay for your freedom!!

      I especially relate to this line: “I’m also not as anxious to please with the selfish cheater and his ridiculous expectations out of the picture, always subtly or not so subtly making me think I didn’t measure up. Nothing would ever have been enough and I don’t have to ever feel that way again.”

      Only someone who has been subjected to these subtle put-downs can understand how hurtful and corrosive they are. For me, it was the constant drip drip drip of his quiet disgust that altered my sense of self.

      Now I just feel disgust for him and am learning to love myself again (kind of). It’s a process.

      Anyway, I’m glad you are rid of that toxic cheater. You deserve better!

  • My XH the substance abuser insisted that all holidays revolve around his son and his grandchildren. As a result, celebrating with my siblings and extended family was always an afterthought. My new tradition was to VOW that I would never miss another holiday with my own people, unless it was MY CHOICE. This year, of course, we cancelled a big celebration, but we’ve taken to finding time to see each other one-on-one, even if we sit “together” in separate cars and have lunch!

    I’ve been dating the Very Kind Man for over 5 years now. He came over yesterday to make Thanksgiving dinner for two (we had orange salmon–delicious!) and then went to see his Kiddo’s family afterwards. He also dropped a lot of glass at the 24 hour recycling place on his way. In pre-COVID times, I would often make a stop at his family’s celebration on my way to my own. Both of us are too old to miss time with aging family members. We pick our own time to celebrate together and enjoy that immensely, Because I’m not in his face about holidays, he can choose the days to work to maximize overtime and time off. In other years, I’ve also gone to my school’s Christmas mass. Looking forward to that again next year.

    I set the standard for this on the first holiday we spent and I’ve never been sorry.

    I still have a few personal traditions going back to right after D-Day, which was Nov. 22 for me. That first Christmas, I was a mess. So I pulled on my big girl pants and decided how I wanted, personally, to mark Christmas. I revived the tradition of baking my “Holiday Hearth Loaves,” an old Sun-Maid raisin recipe I used to make back in my 20s. I made a beautiful porch ornament and a sign for my porch (this was my high Pinterest period, ha ha.) I did a sage smudge and house blessing through the entire house. I decided to put my tree on my screen porch and have a drug-store “Charlie Brown” tree on my living room table with a manger scene from the same place.

    Finally, I decided to shop for myself for Christmas and took along, in spirit, my deceased mother, who used to buy me one great new outfit every year. I’ve maintained that tradition. I’ve got a pretty new jacket for under the tree and I’m adding some kettlebells for my home gym. My reasoning? I don’t wait for others to notice what I want and need. After years of making big Christmases for others, I matter at Christmas too!

    • My D-day was 22nd of December, I kicked him out that exact night (it ended up in the police being involved as he was an abusive drunk). I spent Christmas 2018 with my dog. I cleaned the entire house over the weekend before Christmas to get rid of any traces of him, I packed his stuff and locked it in a spare room.

      My Christmas was spent in front of the TV while cuddling my dog, trying to self soothe.

      It’s been almost two years and I smile now thinking about that time that I was so strong.

  • Old: i cook a bunch of food so scumbag cheater ex can play happy family with my 2 boys and I. We all have to offer surface pleasantries about what we’re thankful for, but no actual discussion beyond sports and the weather is allowed because his majesty is easily offended. Nothing that makes baby the slightest bit uncomfortable is allowed and everyone must walk on eggshells.

    New: 19 and 17 year old boys and I do whatever the fuck we want and talk and laugh as loudly as we want. The cats and bird don’t care. The boys actually had dinner with their father because his gf has family here and they make a lot of food. I had dinner with my lovely bf’s parents and brothers. Over the next few nights I’ll pick up some steaks and the boys and I will grill them up and be as loud as we want.

    Ex was in their lives for 13 years and they don’t even ask about him. He means nothing to them.

  • I think that it is unnecessary to try to live up to unrealistic family “traditions.” When my children were small, I decorated for the seasons, and the holidays, but my home never competed with a Disneyland set. It only takes a few pieces, and a few special dishes to create a warm atmosphere. He wanted gifts to be “heaped” under the tree. I refused to buy cheap dime store presents to “heap” when the children wanted pricey video games. It was all about appearances for him. It was all about substance for me. It is no wonder the marriage dissolved, it was a mirage all along.

    His family was always loud, but I did have a wonderful sister in law I could count on to help. Between us we were able to share the cooking and cleanup, and we alternated homes for events. The worst thing was trying to keep him from drinking too much while the children were there. After they left, he could drink himself into a coma. I learned to have an alternate bed available, and earplugs handy to combat the snoring.

    My sister in law divorced his brother after I divorced my Ex. We still see each other, and have taken some trips together. I still celebrate the holidays with my sons, and sometimes we do it on different days due to their work schedule. It is quiet, peaceful, and lovely now. We concentrate on the visit, not the food or decorations. My life is simple now, I enjoy the peace. I no longer have to use earplugs, and I sleep in my own bed. I don’t listen to lies, and no one is cheating on me, or stealing from me. All in all, it is a great way to live, whatever the season.

  • Old tradition (every year, without fail): After dinner, while all of the kids are in the other room doing kids Xmas stuff, KK sits quietly at the table while everyone else engages in holiday banter: humorous memories, current events, etc. The only times she speaks up are when I attempt to call attention to something she’d said or did recently. At the two-hour mark, she starts giving me the silent “can we wind this up” signals I’ve come to know so well: long stares back at me when I tip a glance to her, a hand on my leg, gentle taps on my hand. If table discussion is lively and we pass the three-hour mark, she’ll whisper to me “What do you say, sporty?…” which I know is my cue to start gathering the girls together.

    New Tradition: I stay and enjoy my family as much as I goddamn want to.

  • Despite the fact that my divorce was final two years ago–two Thanksgivings and Christmases ago–this is the first year I feel I am on my own for figuring out what I want on my holidays. The first year, it was important to me to show that he was not going to crush me, so I did the usual holidays things at the apartment I moved into: cooked the big turkey dinner for my son, splurged on a large tree, and decorated it with my son. The two holidays had a kind of “in your face” “not going to let it get me down” feel to them, both to him and to my own feelings of having been discarded.

    Last year I agreed to travel a thousand miles away to look after my 93 year old mother for nine months , the mother who inculcated in me by example and suggestion my bad chumpy ways, and my role there was to allow her to have the holidays she can no longer manage on her own. I cooked the Thanksgiving meal and asked in a neighbor, I did all her decorating and shopping and wrapping and baking. It was the first time in my son’s 30 years that I had not seen him on the holidays.

    This year I am back in my apartment, by myself, and trying to feel out what I really want. For Thanksgiving my son came over the night before, and I didn’t cook a turkey. Now I am deciding what feels right for Christmas. Lights, I think, lots of them, in the house. It’s definitely a transition year.

    • It’s the “trying to feel out what I really want” part that is challenging for a lot of us chumps.

      There’s both a freedom and terror in recognizing that we don’t have to do what our ex or society demands.

      Good luck Adelante! 💪Yay!

    • It all comes down to being true to ourselves, right? This year I’m searching for that right ‘mix’ to celebrate for me, so Bring On the Fairy Lights!! Given Covid isolation this year, and no traveling, I’ve officially surrendered and am fluffing my nest warm and deep.

  • This year I spent Thanksgiving totally alone (except for the cat). I shared my Rock Cornish Game Hen in Mandarin Orange Sauce with her (kitty’s without sauce please).

    And then I joined my friends online down in the Lower 48 for a trivia game that raises money for charity. I didn’t realize how much I needed that relaxed, friendly game. I’d love for this to become a new holiday tradition.

  • The last Christmas with XW she had decided to get “laser skin peel” because as I learned later she had a new, younger affair partner. This despite her family coming over for Christmas dinner. “Dr. says I should be fine.” Nope. She groaned all night and woke up in agony, lobster red and oozing out of every pour. I kept wrapping her face with cold wet towels, plying her with narcotics and liquids. Yet she insisted we continue with the family dinner. Next day she was worse. Her doctor was useless and there were no groceries in the house. I did all the food shopping on Christmas Eve. The next day she could hardly open her eyes as we opened presents with the kids. I had been up at six cooking and prepping. She went back to bed. Dinner was a success! This is despite her conservative Christian family who offered me zero support during divorce. I spent the next week of vacation nursing her. Three months later she tells me she wants a divorce and I discover her affairs. I get stuck with half of her plastic surgery bills.
    Fast forward ten years.
    Remarried and relocated to Napa, CA. Our typical holiday meal includes a blend of two families. All of our six adult sons like to cook and there is a fabulous chatter emanating from the kitchen. My wife has made fabulous pies and desert is consumed outside around the firepit as grandchildren play on the lawn.
    No more plastic surgery bills.

    • Plastic surgery bills, D-Day, and divorce papers sound like the worst Christmas presents ever. Thank God I divorced Nitwit before he started thinking of plastic surgery, since I have no doubt I would have wound up stuck with the bill. I raise a virtual glass to you and your improved life!

  • Old crazy: He would complain and complain and complain and complain for DAYS leading up to the holiday. Complain on the day of the holiday, get drunk, act stupid, be loud. I never felt… good or happy or loved on any of those days. Of course, I was the one organizing everything and then being chastized because I was late getting washed and ready for the event. The last year I opted not to travel to his parents house for Thanksgiving because I was so exhausted. Later, he told me that is the first time he slept with married shmoopie. Now I know, he’s a liar and if I did go down, he would have slept with her anyway and left me at his parents house by myself. He was a good cook, but I can cook better with most things. The one year we went to my dear friends house, he made everyone uncomfortable and we were never invited again. Come to think about it, ALL my previous exes were socio or psycho paths who made everyone uncomfortable. My family of origin is full of them too and I only participate at a minimun.

    New tradition:

    I no longer spend time with people who are abusive, whether they are related to me or not. I cooked a lot of delicious food this year for just me and I planned next year’s guest list. It was so peaceful in my home and I was happy for much of the day. I went for a walk in the woods yesterday and will go again today. I will bring butternut squash soup to a friend later today. I am surrounded by people who love me, I make phone calls to just tell people I love them and I am grateful for them, and I get invites to many friends houses. I get many phone calls from people who love me and tell me that their life is better becasue I am a part of it.

    It’s time for me to understand and respect my true worth. CN and CL have helped in ways I never imagined possible.

  • 19 months out – not divorced yet

    Old: I’m a dork. I’m that person who puts up their tree a week before Thanksgiving, the one listening to Christmas music as soon as I deem it socially acceptable, could never get enough of Hallmark movies, I always made the coolest cookies with my kids, etc. I thought if I danced pretty enough FW would want to share in my dorkiness or at least think it was cute (my kids thought I was fun). He placated me but his demeanor was of someone waiting to get their teeth cleaned.

    Now: The kids (20, 18 and 15) and I are depressed. We slept all day and decided it was just another dinner. They chose me but S20 did make an appearance at FW’s house for dessert while I didn’t bake at all (FW cut my support) Last year we called FW “the FW that stole Christmas”. It still applies. But we still find things that are joyful. We laugh, we hug, make jokes, do crazy things, boggles my mind truly.

    “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.’”

    My FW will of course never get this but I think we do.

    • FW cut your support? Is that legal where you live? Where’s your lawyer?

      That’s the best Christmas of all.

      • No court order so he can pay whatever he wants. I’m hearing from the kids he’s struggling to come up with a retainer for his own attorney. While he was out partying I was saving. I then hired a very expensive pit bull who is presently making his life hell. He was unprepared. I’ve cut back and letting my attorney do her thing.

    • What a great comment. I love that part of the Grinch movie and it still makes me cry. I teared up just reading what you wrote–thanks. PS I don’t have my glasses on so sorry if this is typo-riddled

  • Old crazy: I rarely saw in-laws on holidays (blessing) but there was that one Christmas befire kids when FW’s sister showed up with her hotshot husband and then vibed me to death the whole time.

    I figure she’d just gotten a hate-filled ear-full from my horrible MIL and was carrying out the recommended hex. She hung on her brother for the whole visit like a clingy four year old. Creepy.

    At the time, I was about eight weeks pregnant and a few weeks away from getting a terrible winter infection and losing the pregnancy. We told no one about the pregnancy but a few close friends, but I think people who knew me could probably guess (bloated, blotchy, nodding off during movies, weird about food and running to the bathroom every few minutes). In any case, SIL sulked the whole time she was there. While I cheerfully covered my nausea and painted Christmas ornaments and invited her to join in, SIL acted as if this hurt her feelings. She immediately skulked off to lie down on OUR (shriek) bed and pout darkly until her brother– not her husband (?)– went to see what was wrong.

    Boundary encroaching raccoons, all of them. BIL was too busy ever-so-pointedly telling me about seeing crowds of obese people while traveling for work in New Hampshire to notice his wife’s pouting. Usually that family liked to throw hints that I might have an eating disorder (“You eat and eat and eat. Where does it all go?” Subtle). But that Christmas I realized my normal scrawniness merely disapointed them since it deprived them of their favorite pastime– fat shaming! My 8 LB pregnancy water weight gain provided a golden opportunity.

    Duly noted. Later when I was successfully pregnant with my first, I refused to see inlaws at all. SIL and BIL had driven across 4 states to see us without warning when I was six month along, but they had to turn around and go back when, for the first time in that marriage, I went on an in-law strike, collapsed in tears and refused to see them. I didn’t know what they’d do or say but my intuition screamed it would be horrible and spooky and weird (the usual) and might throw me into pre-term labor. Pregnancy was at least a shield against FW’s simmering, silent resentment that I didn’t love his family’s constant pecking and PA abuse.

    New tradition: total moratorium on horrible, spooky and weird, on passive-aggressive jibes and baiting, mean jokes with grinning delivery, dark brooding, quasi-incestuous territorial gesture warfare, the dread and apprehension of feeling like the ghouls-in-law are watching you closely to gather up gossip fodder to stab you in the back with, etc.,etc.

    NC is like an exorcism.

    • Your in-law strike was mighty! Good for you for drawing that boundary even while your head was still in the blender. The “drove four states to see us without warning when I was six months along”–really hits my panic button. There are good surprises, and then there are the ones that are plainly hostile. I like my people to arrive invited and announced.

      Stay mighty, Hell of a Chump!

      • Thank you! It was so good not to have those assholes around during D-Day.

        Yes, pregnant animals are dangerous and have an amped up radars for foes. I could not force myself to be around toxic people when expecting. At this point I live my life like I’m permanently pregnant. I think I’ve developed an actual narc allergy.

  • Old tradition: standard Christmas meal with ham that my ex in- laws always insisted we eat with them. My MIL always hosted.

    New tradition: Being more mindful of local businesses, I drive down to the fish dock (I live in FL) and buy a fish straight off the boat; get some recipe tips from the sea hardened fishermen. it’s an excursion and enlightenment for the kids. I now prepare a whole fish for Christmas or Christmas Eve meal whichever day they’re with me. No apologies. Has been going on for years now. Even got a fancy fish platter to go with it last year. 🙂

    Making your own traditions is part of the fun of freedom.

    • Good tradition.

      Reminds me of my back then, new tradition. I started having Christmas with my son and the grands a week before Christmas. I always prepared tacos, since I knew they would be ham and turkyed to death. My son liked that. Tacos are his favorite.

      • A few years before the ‘end’, when my kids were then teens, we started a very loose version of ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ tradition on Christmas Eve. Because it was easy, and we all LOVE seafood, a little pasta, some artichokes. Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, mussels, butter.

        But, Susie Lee,^, your choice of tacos is brilliant. Absolutely f*king brilliant! I may have to steal this…

  • Old way, I cleaned the house while Ex griped, I got up at o dark thirty to put the Turkey in, did all the cooking, cleaning and clean up while everyone was asking when the Turkey would be done so they could move on to the next house. Dinner = two hours for everyone else, 27 hours total for me.

    New way, we played celery Jenga. You know, stack the cut celery 3 or 4 wide, alternating 90 degrees as high as you can go, then pull your celery piece as the dinner progresses until the stack falls, or as in last night’s case doesn’t. Turkey was done when it was done. Had enough gravy for everyone because Ex didn’t take it all for himself. There was no one there who had “somewhere else to go”. Dinner eaten, enjoyed and cleaned up within an hour. Lots of chilling to be had.

  • Old tradition: Do EVERYTHING- shopping, wrapping, planning, cooking, caring for our child. Feel sad that my ex hasn’t bought me anything thoughtful (or some years, anything at all). Cook huge turkey that my ex always insisted on and watch it being gobbled down in moments by people who (literally and figuratively) don’t bring anything to the table and spend the time talking about themselves. Clean up. Feel used. Silently rage as my ex zones out, gets drunk, plays computer games and has a nap while I take our young child to the park and cry.
    Current tradition: I cook a low fuss meal that I want to eat. I buy nice, thoughtful presents for myself and my son. I set healthy boundaries around family coming over. After lunch, when everyone leaves and my son goes to his Dads, I go for a walk and then binge watch a show I’ve been excited to watch with a nice bottle of something. I do not entertain the idea of doing things for people that don’t appreciate and will never reciprocate.

  • No more of listening to him complain about how awful the holidays are, refusing to say what he might enjoy, and watching him undermine every attempt of mine to enjoy them.

    No more of him complaining about how much food there is and trying to enforce “portion control” on me when HE, not I, was overweight.

    No more tense phone calls with snobbish, mean relatives of his. No more spending hours unpacking the insults with him afterward.

    It’s so peaceful. I do what I want, I eat what I want, I enjoy a quiet day.

    Freedom from passive-aggression is a beautiful thing.

  • OHD – My MIL would arrive 3-4 hours before the event, no matter what. Yes, I said hours. She only lived 45 mins away, but was so disrespectful and self-centered that she showed up when she wanted. And of course, the ManChild would not say a word, ever, to discourage the behavior. I was always the bad guy for being upset.

    NEW – My new post-FW traditions will include family and friends who truly love me and enjoy my company. I look forward to many years of fabulous food, delicious cocktails, wonderful laughs & conversation, and fun games during the holidays. No drama, only love and light.

    Unfortunately, I am home alone due to a covid quarantine this Thanksgiving and missing my family. (I’m ok!, no symptoms, but was in contact with someone who tested positive last weekend.) BUT, it will only make me appreciate the new traditions once we can all be together again.

  • Old traditions of my ex-in-laws: a hillbilly grifter trifecta of Food from Costco and Sam’s Club, conspiracy theories and racism, and watching bootlegged DVDs of action movies at mind-shattering volume.

    New traditions in my “new” marriage (10+ years now): delicious homemade food, taking turns at the dinner table saying what we’re grateful for, and long walks with thoughtful conversations.

    Guess I’m just a non-sparkly nerd, and so glad I ended with with my nerd tribe.

    • Oh my gosh I am so sorry. I know it was a horror show for while it was happening but I am laughing my head off at your description of Christmas Past with Duck Dynasty.

    • It had to be a living nightmare, but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at your description.
      Picturing them in my mind, the conversations, on conspiracy theories, racism while watching their action movies at mind shattering volume.
      Velvet Hammer, you’re right it does sound like
      Duck Dynasty, lol!

  • I feel this so much.

    Old tradition: Every holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas….) at MIL’s House was excruciating. Same exact meal every time. MIL is a class A narcissist control freak…. with zero culinary ability or taste. No fresh vegetables. Everything from a can… only corn or green beans (the only ones she likes)…. and they have to be creamed or casserole. Her “twice baked potatoes” are not like any recipe I’ve seen… she mashes potatoes with low fat/nonfat garbage (margarine, sour cream — alL fake) and they turn into tasteless plastic (my mom got my leftovers once — we were always forced to take them and I wanted to throw them away. My mom didn’t want me to waste them and insisted on taking them, but couldn’t identify the “white stuff”… she didn’t believe me that they were potatoes). And the turkey? She made it at least a day before… sliced it… removed the unseasoned skin… then covered the turkey meat in water and it boiled in the oven forever until tasteless.

    Or they would come … a dozen of them… to my house. And MIL would push her way into my kitchen… upset about everything I was making. She insisted on making the gravy. She was angry that my gravy would be brown (from Turkey drippings and veggies roasting with the bird)… so she forced her white flour concoction on me. She grabbed a small glass from my cabinet, put a little water and corn starch in it… then vigorously stirred it until it fell over and poured down the side of my oven (between the countertop). “Oopsy! Hee hee hee!” Then she did it AGAIN. That passive aggressive b***.

    At Christmas everyone is forced into a circle to open presents one at a time. It literally takes HOURS. And MIL would proudly exclaim how she is the “worst gift giver — hee hee hee!” She would ask for everyone’s Christmas lists but refuse to buy from them… she ensured she’d get you something you didn’t want. She also loved to buy me clothes… in random sizes several sizes bigger than I am (“hee hee hee”). My son LOATHES her traditions – especially her awful gifts (he hates sports so she buys him sports stuff) and the Christmas circle. I was always given such awful things that they were the butt of jokes at my friends’ white elephant gift exchange for years 😂

    Oh… where was Ex in all of this? Generally staring off in silence. Literally. He loved to watch her abuse me. The narcissist spawn of a narcissist.

    New tradition: when I don’t have my son… he asks me to do our own Thanksgiving anyway (before or after). And I enjoy time with my boyfriend. We eat out or whatever.

    With my son, he insisted I make the full Thanksgiving he loves this year. I made him everything…. but my boyfriend cleaned the entire house for me. BF also helped me with all the cooking. He cleaned up EVERYTHING. So it was pretty awesome 🙂

    And gifts? My son doesn’t even want them wrapped — I just get him what makes him happy and give it to him on the holiday — and he’s thrilled to pieces. And my boyfriend and I buy each other lovely things and spend quiet time together.

  • Old Thanksgiving: Nitwit grudgingly eating homemade dinner with my family (his family lives abroad in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving) while passive-aggressively criticizing their cooking. Nitwit never helped with the cooking and required an industrial-strength shaming from my mother to help with the cleanup. Some years Nitwit just spent Thanksgiving with his friends, sending me texts about how much he was enjoying the food there. When he did show up we walked on eggshells lest he pick a fight with my brother, who is the most religious one of us (Nitwit is an outspoken atheist). I lean more towards the secular myself, as do my parents, but none of us push our non-belief on anyone. Also, my brother is a much nicer person than Nitwit.

    New Thanksgiving: Conversation flows freely and easily around the family dinner table. There is no drama, no snide comments, no tension. We all say what we are thankful for, bringing God into it as we see fit (or not).

    Old Christmas: D-Day was a few days before Christmas last year. I have to cancel my RSVP to my parents’ Christmas party just a few hours before it starts because I am sobbing so hard I have given myself the mother of all sinus headaches and look like crap to boot. Once again, Nitwit does exactly none of the cooking and only helps with the cleanup under pressure. Never reads the books that I took the time to buy for him. One memorable Christmas (not the one right after D-Day) Nitwit was driving us to my parents’ house and asked me to get out of the car, as I was spoiling his enjoyment of some trashy song. As soon as I got out of the car, he peeled away from the curb and sped around the corner like a bank robber driving the getaway car with the cops in the rearview mirror! He did return later, cleaned up the dishes, issued a no-pology, and left again, saying that apparently washing dishes was all he was good for.

    New Christmas: We can sing Christmas carols as a family again without him muttering about the evils of Christianity like the Grinch. Christianity does have its flaws but family holidays are not the time or the place to discuss them. I drive myself to my parents’ while listening to soothing music on the way there. There is joy and laughter in our house again.

    Old birthday: Nitwit refused to buy me any birthday gifts ever. Not even earlier this year, which was a milestone birthday for me. Sat and sulked while I opened my cards and presents because the attention was on someone other than him. Being a chump of course I cover for him, saying he has ordered me a present online and it hasn’t arrived yet. I then spend my birthday night on Amazon ordering my own birthday present.

    New birthday: I will celebrate my birthday the weekend before in much the same manner, minus 140-150 pounds of dead weight and drama king antics. I will not have to order my own present. On my actual birthday I plan to take the day off from work so I can have brunch at a small locally-owned seaside eatery. I would never have moved to the city I currently live in and therefore would never have discovered this place if not for the divorce. I will have an omelette, hash browns, and Nutella pancakes while savoring my newfound freedom. Maybe a milkshake later in the day too.

  • Omg – my ex’s mother had the same bloody tradition. She would always complain about not having enough money but then buy way too many gifts for people (not what they wanted or needed ). Then everybody had to sit in a circle and open their gifts one by one as they swooned at how wonderful her gifts were. BORING! Yea she got me a couple of things, but I still had to sit through her son opening about 10 gifts and her adult grandchildren opening about five gifts each. One at a time, around the boring circle, again and again.
    She would save her gifts from out of town siblings for us to watch her do the unwrapping zzzzzzzz and listen to snarky comments.
    DDay and discard was shortly before Christmas. This is a woman who bought all her Christmas gifts 6 months in advance. Suddenly she didn’t have anything for me at Christmas. Her son discarded me and she followed suit. I so regret giving her a Christmas present that year.

    And I won’t miss the cheater’s long month of robotic Christmas baking. He did it all to get endless praise, people please and give it all away (we were uncomfortable eating it even though it was in the house for a month ). It seemed so very joyless, no one else was invited to join him.
    He always wanted all the credit for everything so he took everything on himself.
    I also won’t miss going with his parents to his boyhood family snooze fest Christmas Eve church celebration. Most boring church ever. No more listening to him recite scripture with his immoral, fake, betraying, two faced selfish ass.
    It always felt like I was an interloper in his ‘mommy’s’ Christmas.
    I also won’t miss hearing his adult kids make a long fuss about every single little thing they unwrap
    ( long and boring again…the tradition continues) like even a package of gum or dental floss and they go on about how amazing their dad is!
    But when my kids opened their presents, he’d be in the kitchen half the time.
    He did everything Christmassy to impress others and mommy. Puke.
    I won’t miss seeing him decorate the outside of the house even though he just told me he was leaving me for a married OW. But priorities- let’s make the outside of the house look Christmasy even though our family just suddenly broke up.
    I also won’t miss being the only adult to suggest that the kids clean up since we did all the cooking. Once again passive aggressive people pleaser wouldn’t dare to ask his family for help.
    This has been cleansing!

  • No ungrateful Mr. CLH to buy Christmas presents for. We both have our birthdays between Christmas and new years. Born 3 days apart.
    For the longest time, I thought it was. Sign that we were meant to be.

    He would have the sadz every year because I am “so much better than him at picking presents and he feels so guilty, that he never does me justice”.

    I had to console him every year and tell him that it’s perfectly fine that he always got me tickets to the opera (same as he got his mom every year).

    Best Christmas ever, it’s gonna be this year! I lost no one as I didn’t really have him during our relationship. He lost me, the person who had his back 115%

  • My kids were at their father’s for Thanksgiving. Instead of being sad, I sat on the couch with homemade guacamole and watched The Crown–and it made me murderously angry at Charles. But, nevertheless, I had a marvelous time all alone. (The kids hate him so they rarely go.)

    We will celebrate as a family today.

    Oh, and both kids got food poisoning from dad’s undercooked chicken. Even though they both insisted it wasn’t done yet (they are excellent cooks–17 year old will do our turkey today). I felt bad for the kids getting sick, but just another sign of how much he sucks.

  • Old Traditions – final year of 20; 2016: I do all of the cooking, decorating, setting a beautiful table etc., with the kids – keeping our voices down and causing as little commotion/sound as possible(even when they were little ones) because FW ex is extremely “noise sensitive”. Amazingly, his sensitivity condition, a result of childhood trauma induce PTSD, only presents itself at home and only applies to me and the kids. In the meantime, FW ex watches tv, goes to the gym, conducts his separate private life on multiple phones and computers, takes pics of me and the kids to post on Facebook to make sure he looks like the perfect family man – (schmoopie actually had the nerve to plead with her own husband to please understand that FW is an amazing dad and should be permitted to be around their kids lol.) At some point, he complains that the kids and I are a team and he feels left out and does something to ruin or otherwise taint the day – that behavior is usually alcohol fueled.

    New Tradition: I do everything with the kids, we have a great time. No pressure to be quiet – we can get as loud and silly as we want! The traditions that I built hold up beautifully because he refused to partake so his absence is a net positive given the stress of his sulking, drunken behavior is not getting in the way of our good time! (My kids are young adults and choose not to be a part of his life.)

  • Old Holiday Tradition
    Thanksgiving: instead of coming home to help me prepare for thanksgiving he went out dancing with my daughters coworkers. He danced with one of them and got drunk. At the time I didn’t know her name and later found out she was one of many candidates he was attempting to snag back in 2010 dating spree.

    This year it was my adult children and their partners enjoying a drunken cheater free dinner with joy. It gets better.

  • I came to this site to help a friend who was married to a fuckwit. But I stayed because my first real relationship was an abusive alcoholic….and I grew up in a cult and have family members who are still in it. For some reason deep in psychology, the psychopathy of cult leaders and cheaters are a lot alike.

    My old tradition was that every holiday was somehow aligned with Satan and not allowed to be celebrated. Or else. It was oppressive, walking on eggshells….with family fights and expectations that were unrealistic. Kind of like chumps putting on the happy front to cater to a cheater family….

    My new tradition for the past 20 plus years, is to buy a beautiful Christmas tree, and decorate it the day after Thanksgiving, eating leftovers and pie. (This year, me and the 13 year old son made it all from scratch and husband and kids cleaned up.) And then go Black Friday shopping in the late afternoon.

    Enjoy your holidays. Don’t let any fuckwit, whether a cheater or large group, destroy your holidays.

  • Reading through the experiences here, it strikes me that we were all expected to be unappreciated servants during the holidays. We worked, were never thanked, there was no joy, no reciprocity.

    Family traditions could be fun if the workload is shared. No matter what the meal is, if people care about each other, the conversation is sustenance. Why did we try to enact a Holiday card scene with a bunch of surly weirdo’s?

    I also noticed that those of us who are on the MEH path are finding that activities which please and nurture our spirits make us happy. If the goal is to experience peace on earth, goodwill to all, that excludes all contact with surly, pouty, selfish, greedy, lazy people, whether or not you are biologically related. Carefully selecting people who are like minded, and willing to participate in events is so much more peaceful than listening to drunken sods blather on about their self importance.

    I would rather “party on” with Garth’s of my own choosing (Thanks, SNL) than ever participate in another unhappy family tradition! Happy Holidays to Chump Nation!

  • Old tradition: While cheater is off cheating me, my mom hosts her normal dinner party for extended family and her rich friends, gets tipsy, and then brings up, at the dinner table, how at age 13 I was a “monster” who did awful things because of “hormones.” What actually happened was a sexual predator had targeted me starting at age 13 and forced me to do all kinds of things through threats, intimidation, and physical force, including him raping me near daily in public at school for several years, while my parents, the school system, and even the police came after, abused, and threatened me rather than him, already a convicted rapist by that time I might add.

    New tradition: Casual meal with my honest, not cheating, not a rapist, respectful, and loving girlfriend and her kids while no one abuses anyone.

    • I’m so sorry that that happened to you MarissaChump, particularly that your parents were evil assholes. So glad you have found happiness from all that insanity.

  • Old tradition: Invite only his mother for all holidays because he had estranged everyone else. She arrives with 6 boxes of her own food despite me asking her not to go to the bother. I always made plenty. I am not a bad cook btw. But it was a competition after all. Watch mil take one teaspoon of everything I made. Or if it was at her house, watch her ‘forget’ to bring out the dish I brought. Hear her say that the wine I brought tastes ‘like shit’. As he stared into space.

    New tradition: anything but that life

  • I just want to add this anecdote to the old-ways column:

    One year, my narcissistic, controlling MIL told us to come at noon for Christmas dinner. When we arrived, I couldn’t smell anything cooking. Huge olfactory red flag! She purposefully did not inform us ahead of time that she planned on keeping us hostage the entire day–sandwiches for lunch followed by hours of boredom then, finally, the Christmas feast. I had three young kids at the time, which made the waiting around all the more challenging. My ex didn’t help. Typically, he reverted to some weird, angry-little-boy version of himself when he was with his parents.

    While unwrapping presents, my hyper-religious MIL and FIL sat in Queen Anne chairs while the rest of us had to sit on the floor. We surrounded them like children at Jesus’s feet. They bestowed their gifts, noblesse-oblige style. No joy. So stilted. No laughter. Handel’s Messiah played quietly in the background.

    At some point, my MIL demanded a group photo.

    It’s an understatement to say that I don’t miss this.

    It feels good to unload this crappy memory.

  • I never much enjoyed Thanksgiving when I was married. It was my EX’s favorite holiday, which meant it was always spent with his family. I did most of the work, but they tended to act as if my husband did it all. It wasn’t miserable, just tiring.

    One year, near the end of our marriage, I was cleaning house before the in-laws arrived and asked my EX if he could take care of the half-bathroom while I kept on with the vacuuming since his parents were due any minute. He yelled at me, “I can’t believe you want me to spend my time cleaning a toilet; I have a Ph.D.” I stood there staring at him stunned, I guess, by the lack of pretense. Apparently, it was just fine for me to be cleaning toilets, but not him. (Side note, I also have a Ph.D. and worked at the same university he did–holding a higher ranking job). The brazen arrogance and stupid double standard of his comment slowly sunk in, and he got off the sofa and cleaned the bathroom, but then he acted like a jerk toward me for hours.

    That burst of honesty on his part was the kind of thing that helped me move toward the decision to divorce. I didn’t just have to hold down the higher paying job, do most of the parenting, and take care of the domestic labor, I was also supposed to pretend that I was a person whose time was somehow inherently less valuable than his.

    This year, I am thankful I got a divorce.

    • “He yelled at me, ‘I can’t believe you want me to spend my time cleaning a toilet; I have a Ph.D.’ ”

      That’s bad enough, but the fact that you have a Ph.D. as well makes it even more ridiculous.

      Glad you’re free of this double-standard loving, pompous ass.

      • Unless your ex has a maid (or shmoopie does housework) the toilet fairy won’t be cleaning his shit for him. What a pretentious prig of a man.

  • I’m new to this site, and oh boy, I wish I’d found it years ago!

    Old tradition: Several weeks before any holiday, anxiety began about where we would celebrate the holiday. My family wanted to know whether we were coming there and I would put off answering them because FW always wanted to argue about where we went, even though his family didn’t have anything planned. Also, even though it was his family, he left it up to me to do all the communication regarding what was going on. If there wasn’t anything on his side, I’d listen to the FW bitch about having to spend the day with my family. Once we got there, though, he was so nice to everyone, just the best! (Eye roll here). But we always were the first to leave and he’d bad mouth all of my relatives on the way home. And lament the fact that he couldn’t see his elderly parents on that holiday, even though we drove by their house and lived only a mile away from them. Whenever I suggested that we stop to see them, he said, Nope, that’s too much for one day. Pretty sure this little manipulation was just to add to my guilt for wanting to be “selfish” and spend a day with my family.

    If we spent it with his family, a mile away, I would be ready to go with the food I brought and the 4 kids, and he told us to go ahead, he’d be there in a little while. So I would, thereby having to answer all the in-law questions about where FW was. (He has a very large family- 8 siblings in all. Then he would make his grand entrance 15 min later, disrupting everything so he could have all the attention.

    Occassionally we would host, and he rarely lifted a finger to help with food prep or cleaning, but at the last minute he’d come in and complain about what I had or hadn’t gotten done yet, and decide we should have this or that on the menu, even though I had it all planned. As the kids got older, they would help.

    Needless to say, I did all the food prep for any of the above, at least until the kids got older and could help. Always felt that nothing I did was good enough. He would go on and on about how great of a cook his mom was (which was true), and not say one word about what I made-even though I’m also a good cook. The kids and I (my 2 older boys from previous marriage, and our boy and girl we had together), all of whom are adults now, walked on eggshells all the time. Also, since Dday 2 1/2 years ago, he would disappear either outside, driving around, or even in the bathroom to text or call his little skank. This happened every 15-30 min. He’s a law enforcement officer, so he’d say he was dealing with something from work, which I guess he was sort of because that’s where they would have their little fuckbuddy dates in his work truck or at her house while he was working. Gross.

    New holiday tradition- This week was the first big holiday in my new house. I signed the divorce settlement last week. Our two college age children came home and stayed with me, and one of my older sons joined us (the other lives out of state). We had a lovely dinner, watched movies , hung up my Christmas lights, no anxiety, no stress. FW was by himself as far as I known or with her and her kids, either way getting drunk and obnoxious I’msure. She can have it.

    I’m glad I found this blog. I can relate so much to all of it. Always thought there was something wrong with me- but realized through counseling and books like Leave a Cheater that’s not the case.

  • My mom was an alcoholic with Borderline personality disorder who was lazy and difficult but also had an obsession with being a good cook. Being BPD, however, she didnt want me to ever vie for her cooking crown, so she sabotaged my attempts to learn.

    I married Cheater who (as I now realize looking back) did all sorts of passive aggressive things to keep me off balance so I wouldnt realize he was cheating. One of his favorites was to take my challenges with cooking and make them worse. He was a gaslighting master where tripping me up then teasing/tormenting me about cooking was concerned.

    One year, the kids were little and I went to cook Tgiving dinner and he sidetracked me. Went back to resume and he did it again. He kept me spinning and doing anything except cooking then waited until the exact time came when we should be eating and said “I cant wait to go to work tomorrow and tell them I had to take the kids to Mc Donalds for dinner because you didnt cook” whereupon he piled them in the car and drove to McDs. At the time, I didnt see this as the intentional destruction and abuse it was. Now I see it as abuse, he was a mean bastard.

    Between my mom and cheater, I developed a LOATHING for cooking.

    New husband loves Thanksgiving and cooking and the kitchen is all his. I was supposed to bake a pie but I literally forgot as I had carpentry projects to do. Im glad I have a husband who likes to cook, I never will. He made a full dinner and had it on the table.

    (Please dont respond with “I have a great recipe you will love” why do people do that? when I say I hate cooking, I mean it)

    I might break down and make the pie, maybe.

    I relish the idea that I will never again endure Cheaters abuse. Gobble gobble

  • Late to this, but I need this catharsis/celebration this year.

    OHD: Sitting crying alone at home, without decorations (because if I decorated I would be “just like his mom”) disinvited from family dinner because I “didn’t make enough of an effort to get along with his family” but actually he was spending time with schmoopie.

    NHT: Open honest communication while cooking dinner together. While my partner cleans up I start putting up decorations.

  • Old: Fuck wit X being in a pissed off mood on Thanksgiving, holidays and most all the rest of the time.

    New: Family together; no fuck wit; all had a good time

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