Normally, my boyfriend and I do not go to my parent’s house on Christmas Eve, because they come to our house on Christmas Day. The past couple of years, my sister, her fiancee and now their baby still go up there…I think a lot of it is out of obligation on my sister’s part and so my mom is not alone with my dad on a holiday. Over the years, I have opted out, mostly because my boyfriend doesn’t enjoy going there and because my dad is a wildcard when it comes to his drinking, although he usually stays sober on holidays and if he knows he is seeing family.
For the past few weeks, my boyfriend has had a tough time dealing with his depression and my mother has been very understanding and supportive of him. I think to show his appreciation, he surprised me by suggesting we go to my parent’s house to surprise them on Christmas Eve. I told my sister we would be there about an hour after them (we both live about 45 min away from my hometown) and to keep it a secret. My boyfriend bought my mother a beautiful plant and I picked out a couple of special gifts to have my family open early. I was actually looking forward to it- my parents have a beautiful home with a big fireplace and I knew how happy it would make my mom to have us all there together.
As my boyfriend and I were getting ready to walk out the door, my sister called me in tears. “Don’t come. Dad’s drunk.” I hung up with her and burst into tears. I should not have been surprised, but I was really disappointed. And I felt so bad for my sister, who tries so hard around the holidays to make everything festive (and we were supposed to celebrate her birthday, too- my sister said there was a homemade birthday cake for her on the counter). What made it 1,000 times worse was my mother was crying as my sister left (she literally walked in the house, my dad was yelling, she saw he was drunk and immediately left.) My mother NEVER cries. To know that she got everything all ready, made appetizers, baked my sister a birthday cake and waited anxiously to see her granddaughter, just to have my dad ruin it by drinking is so sad. Even though I am sure she was heartbroken, she told my sister to leave and go home. I called my mom to see what was going on and she kept choking back tears during our conversation. But she also told me not to come- that my dad didn’t deserve to have his family around him if he was going to act the way he does.
My sister sat in her car in their neighborhood, unsure of what to do- she felt too guilty to leave my mom alone on Christmas Eve, but didn’t want her 18 month old daughter exposed to my father if he was belligerent. After I finally called my dad and assessed that he did, in fact, drink, but was not “that” drunk, my sister decided to ignore my mother’s pleading and went back. My boyfriend and I jumped in the car and got there as fast as we could. I was definitely anxious on the ride there, imagining the possible outcomes in my head. I guess we figured if my dad started acting up, we could all just leave. Luckily, he behaved himself for the most part and the night was salvaged.
It just sucks. I just wish I had more normal family and a dad that wasn’t an alcoholic and holidays could just be less drama-filled. I know everyone has issues with their families and no one’s is perfect, but when I talk to my friends or look on social media, most people appear to have relatively normal families and holiday celebrations. I am so grateful it turned out okay and that my mom was happy in the end, but I know in the back of my mind that night could have ended very differently and it definitely put a bit of a damper on Christmas.