Grumpy Old Man… Or why I can’t get into the Christmas Spirit

Just a note, I’m listening to Christmas music while I write this, so as not to come across too grouchy.

I visited grandpa for the first time in a week today. I took a self-imposed vacation from Mr. Grouchy after he sent me crying from his room last week. Luckily Bj was around to take him to the doctor’s last week, because I was so not taking him. I had another appointment anyway. The eye one, which has yet to result in new eyeglasses, blah! Quite a few things got me roweled up last week, but the main one was grandpa’s intolerance. I’m sure you know the, "old people are set in their ways," saying, and this totally applies to him. I do my absolute best to understand where he is coming from and be polite but there are things that I will not tolerate, and one of them is prejudce and being just plain mean spirited.

Now before you get on me and say how could I not be anything but sweet to an 87 year old retired military man, let me just make sure you understand that grandpa’s mind is totally in tact. An example: when Bj and I got iPhones he asked us how much they were. We didn’t want to tell grandpa because we had saved up for them, and knew he would flip at the price. The next day we come over and he opens with, "So how are your $600 phones?" How the? What the? He flipped the channels on his TV and read the local paper until he found out. So he’s not dumb, and he’s not loosing his mind. He is however getting on my nerves.

Grandpa is nice to most everyone he meets, but here is the thing, he talks dirty later. Like about their skin, where they are from, what they believe in, etc. I have a huge problem with this because not only is my own sister black, but one of my dearest friends as well. He’s been complaining because I can’t find him a white, older (must be 45 plus), male doctor. Last week I lost my cool and told him that I needed him to be nice PLEASE especially this time of year. He’s all, "Christmas is just another day of the year." I told him not to me. I know that grandpa is atheist, and I’m fine with that, hey whatever, everyone believe what you want. I honestly don’t think there is any way to prove anyone is more right about religion than anyone else, so the more ways people find happiness the better. So grandpa asks me why it’s important, and I say that, "I get to see my friends and family." He says I see them all the time (um grandpa has this weird idea that I have like a million friends and go to parties and get-togethers all. the. time). I told him that wasn’t true, and that "I respected his beliefs and he needs to respect mine."  Then grandpa tells me, "anyone who thinks Christmas is real is touched in the head. Mental." I kissed him on the cheek, told him I loved him, but that I could not stay. Then just up and left.

I started crying outside the room, I was so upset. I think mainly because I’ve been so nice to him for months, MONTHS, and have been trying to show him how everyone has good in them, something he does not believe, and then he slams me like that. I went down to reception and ask that they check in on him in an hour. They called me later, of course he was fine. I typed up this whole post about it right after, and deleted it, I was so raw from it, I knew it would be incoherent rambling. The other reason I didn’t put it up was because I really don’t want people telling me grandpa is some horrible human being. He is old. He is set in his ways. He is driving me crazy. What I need are real, concrete ways to deal with this. He is still so sad. All he wants to do is be with his Billy (Bj’s dad… yes it stands for Bill Junior, I’m sure some of you were wondering about that :). He has no goal in life (besides living to be 92 and thus surpassing any other member of his extended family), no hobbies, save watching baseball, which is over for the year. Nothing to do. I like surrounding myself with happy people and this is driving me insane. He has two doctor’s appointments next week, and I’ll be around him alot, as those are longs days for us. So any advice?

Now I feel I do need to lighten this post a bit…

Ha ha. I let Bj pick out our holiday cards. LOL Love them. Had to get some other goodies from Knock Knock as well. Using one of those weird stamps for the X. I’m working on a newsletter type insert as we’ve had a {cough} crazy {cough} year. I’m also working on Christmas presents. As my lack of blogging a while back brought all the local readers to my attention I don’t think I’ll get away with posting many pre-present-opening pictures. But I might try to sneak a few crafty things in. One gift in particular has been taking up all my time… at the library. I get hard core about giving the right presents, which is why I have to go download the excel spreadsheet friendly librarian Rebecca just sent me.

Join the Conversation


  1. While he may not believe in Christmas and therefore not be in the spirit… Remember, YOU are his very best present this year!

  2. Wow. I totally understand. My Mom and Dad live with us and they can both be a challenge to deal with from time to time. The only advise I can give you, from my own experience is this – THEY are not going to change. YOU have to make the decision to love them regardless and learn to either IGNORE or DISMISS their idiocrity as the thoughts and beliefs of a generation taught to be less tolerant, less spiritual, and less TACTFUL that ours. Once you make that decision / realization, dealing with them becomes NOT more joyful, but less stressful.

  3. You could “pipe in” some holiday music. It’d drive him CRAZY trying to figure out how to turn that blasted music off. . .
    That’d keep him busy, at least until Christmas!
    Okay, I’m not taking your post very seriously, and I should. Wait a minute, maybe I shouldn’t! And YOU shouldn’t either! I agree with the “kitty cat face” comment before me – he’s not going to change. His primary goal is to make you miserable, or to see his point of view and make you as miserable as he is. He doesn’t seem to be a very content person in the least. The only thing you can do is post a wreath in front of his door, and keep your chin up, girl! Remember, you don’t have to follow the same path he does! And, obviously, you don’t!
    I have an uncle that “dismissed” my mother from his life years ago. I watched her ache over the “loss” of her brother, who is still living. One day, she just turned it over to God, leaving all emotional baggage to Him, and she walked away.
    Some people you can’t fix. And some aren’t worth your time. You are a GOOD PERSON for your labors with him, just know that God and his angels smile down at you for what you do for him, even when Grandpa doesn’t seem to care.
    Merry Christmas!! And keep it ALL THE YEAR!!

  4. I’ve been waiting for this one….
    Woah girl! “Grandpa” is only one person out of a big handful in your life that matter most. One person cannot ruin the Christmas spirit that lies deep within your core. That’s not the Amber that I’ve grow to become best friends with. He is the first person I’ve know of that strains your bubbly spirit. I feel sorry for him, but mostly it’s a reflection of how I don’t want to end up; to be alone and miserable, without baseball—BUT to still have a grandson and his wife around to hear his ranting matters more to him than he will ever admit. No one ever said you have to agree with him or hold your tongue, let him know where you stand on all issues important to you—if you keep beating him over the head, saying the same things over and over, maybe, just maybe a little-bitty piece will sink in.
    You have an abundance of things to be grateful for, a list so long that I cannot even fathom. The reality is that you are alive and healthy and live in an America where a woman can have an opinion, be taken seriously and live with out fear.
    Be happy! Seriously! 🙂
    love ya— s

  5. oh man…
    I had stuff to say but then I read your mom and Katie’s comments and it made me teary eyed. Your mom is right you know, you are his best present this year. He is so lucky you are in his life…taking care of him, taking him to appointments, just being there for him.
    I was raised to respect my elders and to not talk back to them…and I’m sure you were raised that way as well, but I think Grandpa needs some tough love right now. I think you need to just be bold and honest with him. Tell him when it’s hurting your feelings, or certain things aren’t okay to say to people. Hopefully eventually he will catch on. But, I’m sure it’s probably easier said than done.
    I think it’s incredible that you and BJ moved him up here. That you’re taking such good care of him…not many 20-something newlyweds would take on that task! I think you’re amazing for doing it and I hope and pray that someday Grandpa realizes it too!

  6. Sorry! It’s important to stand up for what you know is honest and true. He may be a good man deep down inside- he may not – that’s ok. Just find the parts that you can love and hang on to those- that will be very important to you someday.
    Good luck!

  7. I hope your appointments with him go well. I’m sorry things are tough for you, I know how it is to be with someone who puts down what you believe in, when you don’t or won’t do that to what they choose to believe in. The best thing for me to do when that happens is just try to not work those things into my visit/conversation/etc with them. I know that’s hard with it being the holiday season and everything in that respect is displayed all around us. On the other hand, maybe your kindness towards him, and towards others and this holiday season will rub off on him and help him to realize that the holiday season doesn’t have to be about “Christmas” but about being with those you love.
    I wish you the best holiday season, thanks for such a wonderful blog 🙂

  8. You’ve already been given some good advice – I just wanted to offer my support and agree that you are such an awesome person for taking on this responsibility, without even thinking twice about doing it. I would just tell him that you choose to be a happy person, and he isn’t going to change that! And lastly, maybe you could find him a “lady friend”?? 🙂

  9. Awww honey! I hope you’re feeling better.
    I had my parents live with my family for 4 1/2 years of the past 6 years and boy were there some frustrating times! I totally understand how you might feel fed up with some of Grandpa’s not so pleasant idiosyncrasies. It’s hard to be cheerful, caring and willing around someone who might not notice or realize how hard you are trying.
    In the end though, you will be glad if you keep plugging away. Your mom is right, you are Grandpa’s best present in a long, long time. Some day that crusty old guy is going to thank you for the gift you are in his life.
    This is one of those hard moments in life when you have to make a choice to continue the practical every day side of love that isn’t very easy when your feelings or sensibilities are hurt.
    You’re doing a wonderful job Amber, taking a sometimes grumpy old man into your heart the way you have.
    Now that my parents are gone (and oh how I miss them)I am so thankful that I “hung in there” even when it was difficult.
    Hang in there Amber!

  10. I’m a little late to this party and goodness knows you don’t know me, but I felt I needed to say something.
    Occasionally we meet people (or find ourselves related to people) who hold views that seem biased, extreme, and even ignorant. When I was your age, I had a confrontation with my father much like the one you had with your grandfather. I remember screaming at him, “You’re just a bigot!” For a second he looked confused and then the yelling continued until I slammed out of the house. Later, I saw him looking something up in the dictionary. Yep, he was looking up ‘bigot’
    Was my father a bigot? A racist? A close-minded fiend?
    No, he was an old man who had lived through a tidal-wave of social changes — some of which negatively impacted him directly — and he could not see the resulting good that came of what most of us consider ‘advancement of civil right’. Change can be a frightening thing as we grow older. One way of turning fear away is to downplay it, make it less threatening by stamping on it, if you will.
    I’m not familiar with his living arrangements, but is it possible your grandfather feels he is surrounded by ‘strangers’ — that is, people outside his family, maybe even outside his comfort zone? Perhaps his negative comments on others reflects the fact that not only has he not made friendships with those around him, but he’s unwilling to do the work required to make/maintain friendships. Is it possible he’s masking his anger and fear?
    My advice (and it comes free so you know what it’s worth!) is to start asking him point blank questions about what he does to fill his hours/days. Find out what’s going on inside his mind. You said he’s sharp — does he feel left behind by society? Perhaps he feels that he has no control over his life? Why is that? Can anything be done to empower him?
    I hope this will help both you and him in the long-term.
    Up until he died, my father and I continued to disagree on many issues; and we both said/did very hateful things. But at the end of his life, none of that mattered. In the end, we loved each other and that’s all that really counts, isn’t it?

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