How My Holidays Will Look Like From Now Oncsudhbulletin December 21, 2020 0 COMMENTS
By Melany Ruiz, Staff Reporter
My Christmas was not like the typical ones I always saw in the movies. Every year consisted of just, my mom, grandma and uncle, and me, my small, happy family. As an only child, I was the star of the show at every family get-together. Every year, we made tamales and ponche, Mexican punch, and I kept an eye on the clock, anxiously waiting for it to be midnight so we could open gifts.
But it was missing one thing.
My father. But this holiday season will be different; I recently met my father after 20 years of knowing nearly nothing about him.
It didn’t bother me until someone brought it up and I really began to wonder, “How come my dad never comes around for the holidays?” I never knew who he was or what he looked like. After all, aren’t your mom and dad supposed to be together when they have a kid? These were the questions 6-year-old me would always ask.
I met my father before my 21st birthday in the middle of this pandemic. I had already come to terms with never meeting my father. All the tears I shed during father’s day, and all the special celebrations I had with his absence lessened as time went by. I didn’t foresee his presence in my life at all.
For 20 years, there was this other part of me that I didn’t know about. I found myself questioning why I had features that were different from the rest of my maternal side of the family. Where did I get my nose? Where did I get my height? A whole biological side to me was completely alien.
And then three years ago, I found out I wasn’t an only child when my stepbrother reached out to me on Instagram, but we never connected past a few exchanged messages. I am no longer the center of attention since I am the oldest sister of one brother and two sisters.
This year the opportunity to reconnect with my father’s side of the family arose again. My uncle followed me on Instagram, since he also attended California State University Dominguez Hills at the time, I thought he was a student I might have met at a campus event.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, as one does, and saw a photo of him and my brother celebrating their recent graduations. I was puzzled, and I wanted to know why in the world this random person who goes to my school was tagged in a graduation photo with my brother? I decided to reach out and low and behold he revealed to me that he was my uncle, my dad’s half-brother.
It’s crazy to think that my uncle and I crossed paths for the past three and a half years. We probably parked in the same parking lots, went to class in the same classrooms, and studied in the same places.
My uncle invited me to a carne asada that my grandpa had that weekend. That was when the puzzle pieces all started coming together. For the first time, I saw a picture of my dad. We look so much alike. We had the same facial structure and eyes. Here, I was introduced to my grandparents, aunt and uncle.
Despite meeting all these new relatives, I was still terrified of meeting my father. I avoided meeting him for months. I decided to stick with my paternal grandparents, uncle and aunt. I was scared of rejection and I just didn’t know what to say or how I would act when I saw him. Four months passed by and I still didn’t have a name to his face.
Then one day I had a random carpe diem moment, and I got the guts to call him up and meet him at a restaurant.
In the past, I had just about played every scenario in my head of how I would act when I would finally get the chance to meet him. There were times I saw myself crying when I met him and others where I was angrily cursing him off.
He showed up at the restaurant with my three siblings and my stepmom.
When we saw each other, he hugged me and I proceeded to hug everyone else. It was a bit awkward, and it played out to be very nonchalant with endless small talk. I guess I overestimated my emotions and didn’t realize that I would freeze when I actually came face to face with my dad. For starters, I didn’t even know how to start off a conversation with him. At times, I felt like I was being interviewed. He asked me all kinds of questions about my school, my hobbies, interests and church. I don’t blame him. Even though I am his daughter and he is my father, we are both still strangers to each other.
If I am being honest, there are still a lot of unanswered questions I have about his absence and a whole build-up of abandonment and “daddy issues” that need unpacking with the help of therapy, but I am glad that the moment I was longing for finally came. I am happy to now be able to say I know who my dad is.
My dad and I spent our first special celebration together for my 21st birthday. It was a bit exciting but I was really nervous because my dad and mom were going to see each other for the first time since they split up all those years ago. When he went to my birthday celebration, I found myself introducing him to my maternal grandma, aunt and uncle even though they already knew each other.
The nervousness disappeared as time went by, but it was really nice to eat my birthday meal with my siblings and my dad. We got to crack jokes together and I got to get to know him a little bit more.
My family doubled in size this year. Not only did I meet my dad, but I also met my siblings, grandparents, my aunt, and my uncle. I now know that from now on, at every special celebration, they will be there.
Christmas is around the corner, and although I am looking forward to the tamales and ponche that we make every year, I am also excited to spend it with my whole family, both maternal and paternal, all united and celebrating, safely of course. I can’t wait to see how my holidays will look from now on, even if it doesn’t look like your typical Christmas movie, I like it better that way.