DEAR ABBY: My just-married daughter has informed me that we will no longer celebrate Christmas together because her husband always spends it with his mother and wants to continue doing it that way.
When she saw my expression, she also told me not to look so hurt by it, because if her daughter (from a previous marriage) sees me upset, then she might get upset that she's not invited to go to California when my daughter, son-in-law and their daughter do. My granddaughter isn't invited because she isn't my son-in-law's daughter.
Can you believe that? When I told my daughter that isn't right and she's putting her daughter in a bad spot and that the girl will grow up with a lot of resentment, she told me not to worry about it and it isn't going to happen.
Abby, what can I do? I don't want to see my granddaughter hurt. Please answer soon. Christmas is coming. -- GRANDMA BECKY
DEAR GRANDMA BECKY: I agree that you shouldn't let your grandchild see how upset you are. Because geography prevents you and your son-in-law's parents from celebrating the holiday together, expect to make plans without your daughter in the future. That she would allow one of her children to be excluded because the girl isn't her husband's child is absolutely disgraceful. Her in-laws must be terribly insensitive to encourage it.
Assuming your granddaughter lives close by, why don't you have her stay with you while her mother is away? The greatest gift is the gift of self, and that way, neither of you will be alone.
DEAR ABBY: My parents have been divorced for 17 years, but my father appears to have trouble letting go. Some examples: Although he never wore a wedding ring, he does wear a widower's band, and he tells people he "lost" his wife. Recently, he talked to my brother about getting a tattoo of my mother's name. Suffice it to say, my brother told him it was inappropriate.
My general policy has been to let Dad cope however he likes. I live 400 miles away and my brother still lives physically close to him. I understand that divorce can be traumatic, having lived through theirs as a child as well as my own. Is there any way I can help Dad cope with this?
He is having health problems now. I think they are forcing him to confront his own death, but this has been going on for more than a decade. Lately, I find myself rolling my eyes and laughing it off. But privately, I worry this could be a sign of something worse because it appears to be escalating.
Are there resources for coping with divorce? He won't consider therapy -- I've tried. -- WORRIED DAUGHTER IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR WORRIED DAUGHTER: While I have heard of widowed individuals switching their wedding band to the right hand, the concept of a "widower's band" is new to me. Your father may be ashamed that he is divorced, which is why he prefers to imply that he's widowed.
I agree with you and your brother that the idea of him tattooing your mother's name on his body would have been inappropriate. I do think that you should discuss your concerns about your dad's mental health with your brother because you say his peculiarities seem to be increasing, and he may need a physical and neurological evaluation.
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