We went to my parent’s house (the toxic grandparents) on Christmas Eve to celebrate and exchange gifts with the family. We were hesitant to go, but it would have been a lot of effort to schedule meeting and exchanging gifts with everyone separately. We were also curious how the toxic grandfather would act at Christmas time.
We found out as soon as we arrived. We walked in the door and said a cheery hello that was greeted with a grunt from grandfather. Seriously, like a caveman grunt. Grandmother was about the same as always, and actually in some ways seems like she tries to make up for the grandfather’s poor behavior. She doesn’t go as far as confronting him about, but she does try to give our daughter a little extra attention.
Grandfather seemed in a foul mood all night. I heard him griping that my brother and his family were nearly an hour late. My brother has never been one to arrive on time, so we pretty much expect a late arrival, but grandfather was not pleased. Well, until they finally arrived, then they were greeted with hugs and happy hellos.
Grandfather did his best to ignore us all night. Our usual spot at the dinner table was given to my brother and his family, likely in an attempt to show us where we now place in the family ranking. Everyone except us was asked if they wanted desert. He bragged about a special pumpkin pie that he made, and I found it a little funny that nobody wanted any of it. Instead a couple of us opted for grandmother’s key lime pie, which is always a favorite.
The daughter of my brother’s fiancé, the outgoing child, was doted over. Grandfather brought out pudding cups for the kids, and I was actually a little surprised that he made one for our daughter, even though it was pretty much just tossed on the table in front of us.
After dinner we moved to the living room for the exchanging and opening of gifts. Typically everyone takes a place on a couch or chair and one of the family members will retrieve gifts from under the tree and pass them out. I noticed a rule this year that nobody is to open a gift until they are all passed out. I don’t remember if this had always been the case, but for some reason it seemed a little odd this year, with three anxious young kids in attendance. I’m not even sure that is worth mentioning, but it’s something I noticed.
Also noticed was my grandfather pulling the outgoing child up into his lap, and saying”this is my girl,” and asking grandmother to take his picture with her. One of his pet peeves had been that our daughter, Faith, had never cared to sit in his lap. He has commented on this a few times before and even made it a point to show us pictures of him and this other little girl sitting together. Funny thing this time, she had a frowny face the entire time he was holding her, as she clearly wanted to be near her presents ready to open them.
Grandfather mentioned several times how many gifts the outgoing child had. He didn’t say one word to Faith the entire time we were opening presents. Grandmother countered this behavior somewhat by saying some nice things to Faith.
Grandmother had asked us a few weeks before Christmas what gift Faith would like. We told her about a Rapunzel doll, and it turned out to be one of Faith’s favorite gifts. Later in the evening grandmother thanked my wife for sharing the gift suggestion allowing her to buy that special gift.
As the evening was drawing to a close, the grandparents walked outside with my brother and his family to see them off, and we gathered our things together. We headed outside a few minutes later as my brother and his family were loading up in the car. We chatted with grandmother as grandfather said goodbye to my brother and family. Then he walked right past us and went inside. Dream went inside so that her and Faith could say goodbye, and were treated to the same caveman grunt we got when we arrived.
That is likely the last time we will ever visit my parent’s home. I was hoping that on Christmas grandfather could put aside his grudge so that we could enjoy the spirit of this holiday. Now more than ever we are confident that we made the right decision in speaking with him several months ago about his behavior towards us and our daughter. The treatment of us actually got worse after speaking about it, which highlights his narcissistic and toxic behavior.
I prefer to end this little post on a happy note, so I’ll add that the next day we visited Dream’s parents and had a wonderful, relaxing, and happy time with them and the rest of her family. Faith was having so much fun that she asked to stay the night. So she stayed and spent the evening and the next day playing with her good grandparents and her cousins and had a great time.
Toxic Grandparents Series:
- Dealing with Toxic Grandparents – 11/28/2011
- Christmas with the Toxic Grandparents – 1/4/2012
- Toxic Grandparents Update – 7/31/2013
- Toxic Grandparents Update and a Diagnosis for Faith – 4/22/2013