Dear Snarky – My Parents Ruined the Holidays Forever

Dear Snarky,

I can’t believe I’m writing to you and I can’t believe what just happened to me and my sisters over the holidays.

The cluster f*%k started at Thanksgiving when my parents announced after dinner that they were getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage. We were all shocked. (I have two older sisters.) My parents, at least we all thought, had a storybook marriage. People would even comment on their marriage, that’s how good it seemed. But my parents told us they had grown apart – blah, blah, blah.

One of my sisters was so upset after their announcement that she threw up her entire Thanksgiving dinner. The reason my parents gave for telling us at Thanksgiving was that they wanted to tell all of us at the same time and in person.

They then said that they were going to “co-share” the house and get it ready to go on the market so they would probably still be living together till the spring. They also said we were welcome for Christmas at their house but it might feel a little different so they would understand if we decided to celebrate Christmas at your own homes or go to our in-laws.

We all opted to go to our parents for Christmas because this could be the last time we would all have Christmas together and we secretly hoped since our parents were “co-sharing” the house that there might be a chance they would change their minds about divorcing.

Well, that sure as hell didn’t happen. We show up on Christmas morning and everything is perfect just like it’s always been but later on in the evening my mom’s new, I’m going to call it boyfriend, comes over to drop off a gift and “meet the girls.” Then not to be outdone my dad’s “girlfriend” shows up for a little family meet and greet.

My sisters and I are furious and heartbroken that my parents’ ruined Christmas with this stunt after already ruining Thanksgiving and can’t believe they couldn’t hold off on “meet my new hook up” until after the holidays.

At this point we think they’ve totally blown up the family and we now associate the holidays with trauma. I’m not sure I can even be in the same room or look at my parents for a very long time. My sisters and I have decided to block our parents out of our lives in an attempt to heal but it’s just been two days and now I’m thinking it seems harsh?

What’s your advice?

Signed, Sad Daughter

Dear Sad,

Yes, parents getting divorced is traumatic even for adult children with families of their own. It’s a huge change in the dynamic and can be very hard to navigate and adjust to.

I can also feel your sadness at all of this happening over the holidays. No one wants a divorce announcement with their pumpkin pie. I do understand your parents wanting to tell all of you at the same time but I’m with you – did they have to do it at Thanksgiving especially when I get the feeling everyone lives fairly close to each other?

That said the whole Thanksgiving announcement is done so you need to move on and realize a lot can happen in a year and that you’ll probably be in a much better place emotionally by Turkey Day 2022 most especially if you start new traditions like having you or one of your sisters host the meal.

Now on to Christmas. Yes, if life were a Hallmark movie your parents would have fallen in love again by the time the last present was unwrapped, but unfortunately real life is a lot more messy – hence the introduction of the new “special friends.”

I’m not going to say I understand the Christmas evening pop ins but I will tell you that your parents are human beings with complex emotions and needs just like you. Maybe their marriage has been more like a roommate situation for years hence the fact that they have no problem “co-sharing” the house till it sells.

This means that both could have been yearning for who knows how long for an emotional and dare I say sexual connection with another person and they both have found it. I understand you and your sisters being devastated that things will never be the same again. But just as you’ve grown up and moved on, so have your parents. They don’t owe you the perfect holidays you had as a child for infinity and beyond.

It’s time to accept that your parents’ lives are changing and deal with it. The worst thing you can do is “block” them. It seems like your parents have been very good to you and your sisters and you have a loving family. By blocking them you are in essence throwing a temper tantrum.

I suggest that you instead take baby steps and let yourself get used to the changes but also be an adult and tell your parents that you love them even if they are no longer the dream couple you always imagined they were.

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