Since I was little, the holiday season has ignited a congenial and playful side in my father. Throughout the year, when he was home, his interactions with us children were didactic and parental in nature. At Christmas time however, he became a much happier, child-friendly parent. So much so, that our mother would actually let us spend time with him alone.
We would go shopping and get lunch. He wouldn’t even get upset if I didn’t eat my food, although it was clear he was biting his tongue. Everything was okay. He would put on a grandiose kind of persona in public, making the sales people laugh (or pretend to laugh). And if one of us broke something by accident, he wouldn’t be happy, but he also wouldn’t yell. We would cry anyway though.
He continued his happy christmas spirit this year during the week he can now take off from work thanks to his seniority. It’s difficult to not get frustrated when his words feel flat. It’s more difficult to not feel guilty when he buys you acceptance with nice gifts.
Maybe it isn’t an act. Maybe he really does love christmas. Maybe he’s just stressed at other times. Am I really complaining about him buying nice gifts and being cheerful? I like it when he’s like this. Even if it feels like it is following some happy-christmas-formula. You simply can’t be unhappy at christmas time, otherwise you appear ungrateful. But there is a somberness underlying the warmth in the air.
A somberness of knowing the good terms between us don’t last. We are never on bad terms at other times. But it isn’t real. I so badly want him to be authentic. To stick around during the year. To show that he cares. To have a real conversation with him, not as father and daughter, but as one person to another. Of course, I’ll always respect and admire him. There will always be a certain dynamic between us. I’m craving something from him. Something that isn’t this poster card week.
I have a bad taste in my mouth. Is it coming from me?