Christmas with Anjelica is fun this year. At 16 months, she is old enough to get a huge kick out of opening the presents and all the decorations. For all the presents we got her, one of her favorite things to play with is still the home made box of pictures. She and I selected pictures from magazines of random objects and things that she liked, cut them out, and glued them onto thin cardboard. We lay the pieces out on the floor and play two ways: sometimes I hold up a picture and ask her to tell me what it is; other times, the pictures are all laid out and I tell her an object to find, and she picks it out of the pile. She’s better at that version, since she can’t say all the words right yet, but she tries. I know she knows all the words because she can always do the finding part of the game. She is so amazing to me. I taught her how to sing a little bit of Happy Birthday with me, so she could do it for Lou. I sing “Happy Birthday” and she sings all of the ”To You” parts, then when I sing “Happy Birthday, dear…” then she sings, “Daddy.” It is so cute.
I received a pearl necklace for Christmas. I think it was an investment and a guilt gift more than anything else. Not that Lou ever said he was sorry. But he should be. My Great Aunt Mamie died recently, so we flew to New York for her funeral and stayed at my sister’s house. My sister has a dog and a cat, which Anjelica loves, and she was chasing them around and playing fine with both of them. The rest of my family was there, and everything was great, until the dog happened to lick Anjelica on her cheek. Lou scooped her up, stated that it was gross, and told her she couldn’t play with the pets any more. It was awkward and uncomfortable, so everyone was trying to make light of the situation with conversation, and my mom made a comment that she had heard that there were more germs in a human’s mouth than in a dog’s. He didn’t lighten up at all, but went on lamenting about how gross it was. My sister had offered for a friend to babysit Anjelica while we went to Mamie’s funeral, and said she was flexible about where and times for whatever we wanted. I thought it was really nice and appreciated that she had tried to find someone for us, since everyone in the family would be at the funeral. Lou didn’t respond, was ice cold to her and everyone in general, and wanted us to go to bed early. As soon as we got in the guest room alone, he went off on the dog-licking incident. You would think she had been mauled by that one very gentle, friendly lick. He was furious at my mother’s germ comment, and felt she and everyone else had ganged up against him. He fumed that it was absolutely disgusting that a dog and cat live inside the house, and he couldn’t stand it. Rather than debate the whole topic of household pets, I just suggested that we get a hotel room instead. We could afford the flight and hotel and a car rental because I was paying for the trip with inheritance from Mamie’s estate. He started going on about how my sister was trying to control everything, and that she had some nerve arranging for a babysitter, that there was no way that she was going to dictate that, and he would not leave his child with a stranger. I said that I felt she was offering alternatives, and wasn’t being bossy or controlling at all in my opinion, and that we didn’t need to use a sitter at all. I suggested that we just take turns with Anjelica outside the funeral home, that I go by myself to the cemetery, and that she would be fine with us together the rest of the time. That wasn’t good enough. He said it was stupid for him to be there just to sit in a hotel and babysit Anjelica, and that he would rather just go back home and take care of her there where he can be comfortable. I told him that I really wanted them to stay with me, and I’d do whatever necessary to make that happen. He insisted that he was leaving. I have never been separated from Anjelica overnight before, and I didn’t want it to happen. I cried. I cried hard. I literally begged him not to leave with her. First thing in the morning, before anyone else in the house was awake, he got on their phone and changed his ticket to the next flight out. I managed to calmly ask my sister to borrow her car, but broke down crying when she asked why, and I told her Lou was leaving with Anjelica. We almost never visit with my family, and this was one of the very few times they had been able to see Anjelica, and he was taking her away. I felt like I was being punished. I didn’t do anything. My crime actually was in what I didn’t do. A friendly dog gently licked our daughter, and I didn’t become outraged. My family made light of it, and I didn’t defend Lou’s position. My sister offered babysitting assistance, and I didn’t see it as an offensive controlling maneuver.
I also didn’t get to peacefully honor my beloved great aunt. I didn’t get to spend time together with my daughter and my entire family. I ended up going home early also, and so I didn’t get to spend much time with my family even by myself. I did get to cry. That’s about all I did do. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my entire life. I’m still mad, and still sad. He still thinks he was right about everything, including the decision to go home with Anjelica. It’s not worth fighting about any more.
So I wasn’t thrilled or excited about my pearl necklace, which wasn’t a surprise gift anyway. He showed me all his research and took me to the jewelry store to examine the Mikimoto pearls he had identified as being “the best.” I was with him when he negotiated the price down, purchased them, and then insisted on a written appraisal at a higher value. He kept talking about them as an investment. I don’t need expensive jewelry, and never asked for pearls. Besides, he had seen that I received some pearls from Mamie’s estate. Save the sentimental value, they are nothing special, but they would look nice. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the value of the ones he bought, it’s just that I don’t need them; I doubt they will get a lot of use, and now I won’t be able to justify wearing Mamie’s pearls at all. I tried to persuade him not to buy them, but he insisted. It’s really my own fault; I should have clearly stated that I didn’t want them instead of saying that I don’t need them.