No Sad Songs This Time of Year

Laughter, smiles; holiday cheer.

It’s December. A time for family and love. But for some of us there is a touch of melancholy. Just a little pinch of heartache.

I personally HATE sad Christmas songs. I don’t want to be sad right now. Sad Christmas songs don’t fit me. They’re all about romantic love, something that does hurt to sever but is much better handled when surrounded by those who can help you remember where you came from.

My heartache this time of year comes from a different love. There is nothing stopping me from reconnecting with my father. Our relationship has been rocky all my life. The ups and downs were too much and I wanted to break the cycle. We’ve gone without speaking for years before, but it never gets easier.  

When I had children I hoped he had changed. I allowed him back into my life and the lives of my daughters, but, given enough time, he broke their hearts too.

That’s what all selfish people do.

So I cut that cord once more. It’s been a couple of years now. Sure everyone has “daddy issues” or “mommy issues.” I fear it is inevitable despite knowing that I would go to the moon for my children. That doesn’t make it any less painful.

See, this time of year is when the man who raised me was at his best. He drank less, was home more, handled his temper and left me without bruises. I can’t say that for the rest of the year.

I hate that every time the first snows fall I think of how he’d get excited and wake us up to go play in it, no matter how late or cold it was. I hate that I miss his smile and that it lives on my face and the faces of my children. I hate missing someone who will never learn no matter how many chances I give him.

This time of year is when I get weak.

People speak of forgiveness and patching up old wounds during the holiday season, and I love the sentiment. But for years and years I have tried. I have allowed the one person who was supposed to protect me to destroy my faith in him.

When it was just me it was one thing, but you only get one chance with my children. I can forgive and move on, but I cannot repeat the cycle and allow my daughters and sons to associate with a man who never cared enough to set his wants aside for the needs of others.

Children don’t NEED much. They require some attention. A hug here or a birthday card there. That’s all it takes.

Someone once said, “Half of parenting is just showing up.” That is so true, and the sad fact is that the few times my father “showed up” he was drunk and /or abusive physically and mentally.

This is the worst “gift” he gave me for the holidays: the need to remind myself NOT to call him. To try and NOT waste my time wishing for things that will never be.

To recall that this man was the monster who made it painful to sit down. That some nights I had to sleep on my stomach because his “punishments” left me in pain for days at a time. This man was the monster I literally hid from in my closet because it was the only place I ever felt safe. He never chased me into that land of shoes and pants. That still haunts me.

I will not forget this “gift” he gave me, because when I do I somehow inadvertently ask for another to add to my boxes of unhappy memories.

There is no song that expresses that. And maybe there shouldn’t be. People like him don’t deserve to be remembered at all, if even in sadness or anger. People like him do deserve the gift of pity, and the hope that they can find a better way, but it does not have to come at the price of repeating a cycle that always swings back.

That’s the hardest part of this time of year.

No matter how much someone you love hurts you, you still love them. It’s annoying and dramatic and I wish it wasn’t so, but if I could change it, then I wouldn’t be me. So I’ll just sigh and look at the sky and say it here so I won’t reconnect:

Merry Christmas, Dad.

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