Bear Ornament

“Grinch” status?

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

This is not a happy letter and that’s a real no-no this time of year. It’s fine if you don’t answer it but I want to get something off my chest.

Am I the only one who hates Christmas? I know everyone makes fun of “Grinches” but I think this is a ridiculous holiday – the greed, the fake decorations, the gimme-gimme-gimme kids. It’s classic American overindulgence. And this year? Smack dab in the middle of a recession, people are spending their money like fools. It makes no sense at all.

I’ve put up with it for my entire life and now, I’m done. My wife passed away this year so I don’t have to pretend for my kids or grandkids anymore. That woman loved Christmas, just went over the top. I went along with it because it made her happy, and to be honest, that made me happy. Now? I just want the day to go by and leave it at that but my kids tell me that’s hard on them and their children. I’m a good grandpa the rest of the year. I just want the day off.

I have told my kids I’m happy to stay put – won’t be traveling to see any of them. They are all mad at me. With my wife passing this year, they insist I have to be “with family.”  Can’t a guy have it his way for once?


Dear Reader,

I’m responding to your letter because I want you to know that, no, you are not the only one who hates Christmas. There are plenty of people who are critical of this holiday for the exact reasons you have given. I have to agree with you, in may ways, it has become a holiday out-of-control.

But I don’t know if you are truly ready to be inducted into the “Grinch Hall of Fame.” Sorry, but you state in your letter that you “went along with it” because it made your wife happy. That sounds like a dear husband to me – doing something he didn’t like so his wife could enjoy happiness. I’m sorry you are facing this holiday without her. It must be very difficult for you.

Can you have your way “for once”? Sure. I’ve actually encouraged other “Grinches” to do what they want. I think there are plenty of polite ways to skip the holiday without making other people feel bad.

But I wonder if maybe your kids and grandchildren want to be with you for reasons that don’t have a whole lot to do with Christmas? Might it be that they need you to be part of the “family” this time of year because  everyone is missing your wife? To have you absent from the family gathering as well, might simply be too sad for them.

Here’s an idea. If you wrote me a letter, you can surely approach your kids about how to better handle this holiday. However, I would suggest that you begin with a discussion about how all of you are naturally missing your wife right now. Going through any of the holidays without a precious family is bound to bring up a lot of emotions. As difficult as it may be, getting these feelings out into the open may bring all of you some relief and comfort.

Next, how about some creative problem solving? Can Grandpa visit but have the choice to participate in a somewhat limited fashion? Maybe you can skip the craziness of Christmas morning but be there for the rest of the day and dinner? Instead of worrying about gifts for everyone, might you make a donation to you wife’s favorite charity in your family’s name? (This would also be a nice lesson for your grandchildren to learn, a reminder that the holiday is also about giving to others!) Put your heads together and see if there is a way to be together without you having to do all of the compromising.

No matter what you decide, I hope the day passes quickly for you. And then, you’ll have 364 days to come up with a good plan for next year!

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)