I just got home for the holidays, and I’m so happy to be back, but I was also prepared for this to be a pretty crappy Christmas. Or at least a weird one. My dad started dating an old friend from college in the summer, but she lived in a different province so I had only met her like once for five minutes. Two weeks after I left for university, she moved in.
Here’s the thing: I always meant to be happy for my dad when he started dating again. I knew it was what my mom wanted, because she told me. I also knew that my dad was lonely. I seriously thought I was going to be a grown up about it.
The problem is that you can’t control how you feel. In spite of the fact that I knew it was a good thing for my dad, I was mad. I was mad because she moved in right after I left. I was mad because I barely knew her. I was mad because she wasn’t my mom.
Of course I would never let my dad know how I feel. Not only would it make him upset if he knew, but it’s also completely irrational. I decided that I would just be an adult and be nice to his girlfriend over Christmas holidays in spite of how upset I was.
And okay, so far it has been a little weird. Like it’s weird that there’s pictures of her kids sitting next to the ones of Paul and I. It’s weird that when I can’t find stuff in the pantry she knows where it is. It’s weird that my cats curl up next to her on the couch. But what I’ve realized is that her being here is also so good. The first sign was this morning, when I was listening to my dad work. He works from home and spends a lot of time on conference calls, which can often be really frustrating. I got used to hearing him yelling and seeing him throw up his hands in despair.
He hasn’t been like since I’ve gotten back. I hear him calmly reasoning with people and that’s about it. That’s just one thing though; there are others. The house is cleaner, and full of more healthy foods than my dad would normally buy. And he has so much to say. He and his girlfriend have all these stories to tell about places they’ve visited and stuff they’ve done. They’re both musicians, so they’re in the church choir together and write music.
He’s happy, I realized. Really really happy for the first time since my mom died. I forgot what he used to be like; for so long him being sad was the norm. Knowing that she makes him happy makes it really hard to be mad.
It’s still going to be a little weird, but I think it’s going to be a good Christmas, possibly the best in years. It’s been a long time since there’s been real joy in our house at this time of year. I’m ready to enjoy it, I think.