We need to start thinking about Christmas this year. Things have to change.
I know my actions this time last year could be viewed as despicable. I know we’ve been over this and over this and by your good graces you’ve given me a second chance, but I just want to say it again:
I cheated on you with our nanny because I was disappointed in the moral corruption of our family unit.
My darling wife, we’re both sick and tired of phones and tablets out at the table. We’re sick of earbuds in and eyes glazed over, slumped in separate chairs across the room. We’re sick of Emily and Nick watching YouTube and messaging with their friends and uploading compromising videos of us on social media.
This holiday, I want us all to be home together, fully. This year, I promise I’ll be present, wholeheartedly, spiritually. But mostly physically. For example, I won’t be eloping to Vegas with Ava like last year, because this year I have something to stay home for.
Hope that we can enjoy a civilized Christmas as a family, like the ones we had when we were kids. We’ll sit together, eat together, play together. Let’s spend every waking moment in each other’s company.
I mean, sure your mom was an alcoholic and your father had that secret other life. And yes, maybe my parents hated one other as well as themselves, and ultimately they both got burned … in the fire I started as a protest.
But we can learn from their, and our, mistakes. We can do better.
Just to backtrack, I needed that time in Vegas with our former nanny to see our family from the outside in. That time was good! Really good.
And that wasn’t the only positive to come out of it. Now we have Steve, and I think we both agree he’s far better with the kids. For one, he knows their names. This year, both Steve and I will be in our respective homes, and our family will have stability, and the comfort that comes with paid staff knowing our kids’ names.
This holiday, we should consume everything as a family, together. No social media. No headphones. No Massive Multiplayer Online Battle Royale Deathmatches. No individual screens. No hotel casinos or incredible glitzy shows or having the time of our lives. None of that.
One television, set to classic movies. No new stuff—it’s corrupting. One stereo playing Christmas hits from the ’80s, just how it was when we were kids. And maybe some ’70s stuff.
George Michael. Bon Jovi. Sting. John Cougar Mellencamp covering the Jackson Five. “We Are the World.” That other one like it, Band Aid, you know, that “Feed the World” song? A message we can get behind. Especially since Africa is all fixed up now and it won’t make us sad to think of anyone starving and also that song wasn’t offensive on any level.
Hell, we’re all fixed up. Our family is fixed up! I promise this will be a Christmas we’ll remember for the right reasons this time. Why would I need Cirque du Soleil, unlimited cocktails, and sex with a twenty-two-year-old from Sweden when I can have Cirque du Miller-family, eggnog and, well, whatever you’re willing to provide sexually, God bless you?
This year we’re all going to sit cringing, together, as a family. I’ll also have my pants on throughout.
Wait, did he do a Christmas song? I’m not sure. But I used to like him, so let’s make sure we have an Adam and the Ants CD on hand.
I don’t want to hear about politics and #MeToo and “fake news” and I don’t want you to have to tell the kids necessary and merciful lies about where I am and why. Let’s play some board games.
We let it get away from us. My infidelity was just an obvious outward manifestation of an inner sickness, a Miller sickness. We were all to blame. And I forgive us all.
You know what, maybe scrub George Michael. I don’t want to hear that “Last Christmas” song, it’ll just dredge up painful memories and raise awkward questions.
I want us to return to traditional family values. Let’s give the kids, our precious kids who we created, both of us, equally and so painfully (remember how I had to miss that golf tournament because of Emily’s birth?), a slice of what it was like back when everything was better. If you want to get blind drunk and collapse on the sofa while Freddie Mercury sings about making this Christmas right, well that’ll be just fine by me. As long as our kids are forced to engage in it, like we were. They can help me carry you upstairs.
Thank God it’s Christmas.
This year, let’s give our children the awkward, excruciating family Christmas they truly deserve.
Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams