Today Is The Day My Family Does Christmas. Without Me.

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Several years ago, I got a divorce. This was rough on my family, but it was nothing compared to when I met my husband. My parents don’t approve, and never want to see me again.

What does that mean for the holidays? It means I just dropped my daughter off 15 minutes from their house. (My brother met me at the grocery store, so I didn’t have to have the awkward at-the-door exchange.)

And it means tonight they will celebrate Christmas without me. The holidays are tough when you’re estranged from your parents. Every year around Thanksgiving, I start to get anxiety, and it doesn’t end until December 26th.

It’s hard on my marriage, because my husband feels responsible. It’s hard on my kid, because she still wants to see her cousins, so she’s there, with them– but she wishes we were there, too.

How we got to be estranged isn’t really important on the holidays. It’s just one of those things that’s happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

But what it does mean is that while my family is unwrapping presents, hanging out around the table, watching the littles play together, and just being present, like you do this time of year, I am at home watching reruns of the office. Man, time sure doesn’t fly when you’re trying to kill it.

And it sucks. That’s the thing. When your holidays suck, and it’s out of your control, you tend to overcompensate. For example, I sent really big presents with my kid. (She loved that, she loves giving her cousins awesome stuff.) I baked a bunch of stuff and sent it with my brother.

But mostly, I just try not to think about it. Which is really hard, because I want to think about my family. I want to remember the good memories, and the Christmases from before, but they suck to remember. It’s just not fun to know that your mom wants a holiday without you.

If you’re estranged from your family, remember that you’re more than that relationship.

A beautiful living room decorated for Christmas.

Find something in your life that’s good. (My marriage is pretty awesome.)

Do something nice for others. (I paid it forward in the Starbucks line.)

Or do something just for yourself. I think maybe a pedicure is in order.

Oh, and if you are someone who isn’t talking to someone in your family, stop that right now. Go call them. Shoot them a text.

They’re your family. Make an effort, and try again. No matter what.

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  1. What if YOU don’t want to be a part of a fake celebration where people have told you they only go because they have an inheritance on the line? What if you find their enabling an alcoholic disgusting ? What if you find most of their behavior lacks truth , integrity and an absence of morals ? Every year I start my holidays with this type of gathering and then it brings me down the rest of the season and I’m depressed going into the new year . Every year I say I’m not going back but I don’t know why ? Because they are my family ? I’d rather not see them , the only good thing is I don’t have to see them for another year .

  2. I cannot fathom a mother not speaking with her daughter and shutting her out. It made my sad to read this, especially for your daughter. Your mother is setting a bad example. Life is too short.

    I have been through a reversed situation with my oldest son. As a teenager he decided that living with his father would be an easier course for him. He is now in his early twenties. There have been period of times when he completely shut me out and had said some very hurtful things to me. Basically, I was the parent who had expectations of him taking responsibility for his school work and doing some chores at home. I felt it was my job as a parent to prepare him to be an adult, where his dad let him do the bare minimum of school work and never expected him to help out at home or get a job when he was old enough.
    Then there have been times when he opened up and let me in his life.
    The times when he shut me out and had hurt me with his words, I always told him that I love him and if he ever needed me, I would always be there’s for him. Regardless of his treatment of me, I knew as a mother I needed to give him unconditional love. We are now at a point where he is coming around to visit me. He has gotten his CDL and is driving trucks for a living. I hope that as he gets older matures, our relationship will continue to get stronger.

  3. I can completely relate. My mom and sister didn’t like my ex husband when we were married bc of the way he spoke down to me and controlled me. I finally got out of the marriage and even after the divorce and restraining order, found it very difficult to completely break free. He continued to be involved in our family activities. Somehow my family grew bonded to him. I had thought I had no choice but to just live this way, bc they made me feel selfish if I ever said anything about it. so I decided I would live a single mom life and just focus on raising my daughters …until 4 yrs after the divorce when I met an amazing guy.. I didn’t want to date him bc I knew my mom and sister would never let go of my ex who still came to all their family dinners and celebrations. Just as expected, they were not supportive of the new relationship and still continued the relationship with my ex, but just stopped engaging with me instead, saying I’m too much drama and it’s not fair to ask them to not invite my ex.

    I have tried sitting my girls down to talk to them about this but they see my family standing up for my ex so then they do too. My daughters don’t understand why their daddy can’t come bc they say he’s part of the family too. They are 15 and 20. My 20 yr old lives with my ex and always insists he comes and gets angry with me when I don’t want to come if he comes. I can’t seem to win no matter what I do. It just feels a little toxic. My poor boyfriend has been so patient through it all.

  4. Why would you ever let your daughter go over to your toxic families home ! And then watch reruns of The Office on Christmas, much less send presents and food! And probably while your poor husband feels responsible!!!!! Invite people that love you over or just make it a new tradition at your home with the two people that love you !

  5. I am going through something similar with my mom. But I’m setting my foot down, and my children will not be going to her house at all this Christmas season. Her boyfriend disrespected her, and in turn, me. She does not see why I am upset, and why I do not want my children around that. I hope things get better for you in the future. If your parents want to act like you don’t exist, then don’t send your children there. I know it’s not their fault, and it’s not fair for them to be punished, but if your parents can’t respect you, then they don’t deserve to see their grandchildren.

  6. WTF!? Shame on your family! I am so, so very sorry…my eyes tearing up as I read your post. Please know that I am sending hugs from Texas and if you were here, you would be more than welcome in my home. xxoo

  7. I know nobody can replace your mom but I’d love to be a surrogate for you. Honestly. There is nothing my kids could do to make me turn from them. We can’t pick family but we can find ones that meet us where we are and make our own. I’m serious I’m here for you. Reach out anytime if you’d like and know you are loved!

  8. I feel very uncomfortable with the fact your daughter spends time, without your supervision, around people who can be so cruel to you, her mother. I think you all should be together on Christmas and start a new tradition where your daughter invites her cousins over the day after Christmas for cousin-Christmas!! You shouldn’t allow your family to cause you anxiety because they are ignorant. You daughter should learn this or she’ll believe it’s ok to be treated poorly.

    1. Completely agree with Eleanor, I would not send my daughter to someone who was capable of being so cruel. Your daughter belongs with you, invite the cousins to stop by your house.

  9. Let me first let you know, I am old enough to me your mother. As I read this, I was filled with outrage. How could a mother not love and support her daughter? You, my dear, are wise beyond your years in letting your daughter go spend Christmas with her cousins. I wish your mother had as much wisdom and kindness. Keep being the person you are!

  10. How can parents feel that way? Mine always wanted me to be happy, no matter what. They didn’t like the men I married, or divorced, but they always loved me. This is not your problem, this is theirs. No one knows what goes on in another’s marriage. How sad.

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