The boy is told to keep the holidays a secret from his father.

Dear Amy: Nine-year-old “Danny” lives with his father and grandparents, and neither of them gets along well. Danny is always caught in the middle.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune)

Danny’s father (in his 30s) is a self-absorbed jerk and spends very little time with Danny, but lives in the same house.

If Grandma is mad at Danny’s father (her son), Danny hears everything about it, and vice versa. Caught up in agitation, Danny is chewed on both sides.

The last example of this is that Danny goes on vacation with his grandparents, but his father was not invited and doesn’t even know they are leaving! Grandma told Danny not to tell her dad because she doesn’t want dad to leave. And when they return, Danny will be yelled at by his father for keeping the secret. Danny cannot win in this dysfunctional family.