Joyce admits that she can be a Scrooge. "I have hated Christmas for the past 26 years. I hate lights, I hate trees. I hate family holiday dinners. If it's associated with Christmas, I hate it!" she says. "I hate to hear people singing Christmas carols because they're happy and I'm not."
Rick and Joyce have been married for 27 years. On their first Christmas, Rick made the mistake of buying a shirt that Joyce hated. "I was so cotton-picking mad at him for buying me that, that I took it back. Rick has never bought me another Christmas gift," Joyce says. "I have hated Christmas from that day forward."
Their daughter, Jenna, feels that Joyce always puts a damper on her holiday mood. "I have four children. When my children open their gifts, my mom tries to act excited, but I can tell that she's not," she says. "I hate for my kids to see her that way."
Joyce realizes that her ways are taking a toll on her marriage. "Rick and I argue every day from Thanksgiving until after the New Year. Every holiday season, I contemplate leaving Rick," she says. "I would have never married Rick if I had known that he was going to shove Christmas down my throat every year."
"I think it's his fault," she replies. "I know that I hurt him 26 years ago when I returned the outfit that he bought me."
"That was 26 years ago," Dr. Phil reminds her.
Joyce responds, "I know. He needs to get over it."
Joyce stands her ground. "But he made me that way. It's his fault!"
Rick adds his thoughts. "I did tell her that I wouldn't buy her anything else. It was a pretty painful event for me. I spent a lot of money," he tells Dr. Phil. "At the time, I was trying to do the right thing. I came home, and it was like, â€˜That's the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life. I can't believe you'd buy me something like that.'"
'"Yes," she says with a smile.
"I bought her a coat one time that she put on for, like, three years, and would wear it to the front porch, take it off, put something else on and leave," he jokes. Turning to Joyce, he says, "Did you like Christmas before this happened?"
"So, he bought you an ugly shirt and ruined Christmas for you for 26 years?" Dr. Phil muses. "Does that seem reasonable to you?"
"It's not me. I could get into Christmas, I think, if he would cooperate a little bit," Joyce says.
"What is it you'd like him to do? Go cut down someone else's tree?" Dr. Phil asks.
"No, we don't need a Christmas tree when they're all over the neighborhood, and I'm paying a high power bill," she says.
"About $300," Rick says. "That was 27 years ago. That was a lot of money."
"So, you got your feelings hurt," Dr. Phil sympathizes. "And you said, â€˜I'll never buy you another present.' So, in 26 years, you've never bought her another present?"
Joyce chimes in, "No, and I asked for one thing, specifically ... A diamond ring. Do you know what he did? â€˜Here, take the money. You go buy it. I'll never buy you that ring.'"
Dr. Phil wants Joyce to understand the true spirit of the season. "Whatever level you define this " whether it's a religious observance for you, whether it's a family observance for you, whether it's just a celebration of the season and music and cooking " isn't this a time that is all about sharing and giving?"
"I give, but nobody shares with me," Joyce complains.
Dr. Phil tries another tack. "Was he not well-intentioned when he bought you that [shirt]?" he asks Joyce.
"Maybe he was thinking about his mother," she quips. "He doesn't have to buy me clothes. He knows I like diamonds."
"I do," Joyce says.
Dr. Phil takes her to task. "You don't like singing Christmas carols. You don't like people coming over for dinner. You don't like decorations. You don't like the kids getting excited about Christmas. It's all about you."
"I can't sing," Joyce protests.
"Yeah, you sing at Christmas," Dr. Phil says cynically. To the tune of "Jingle Bells," he sings, "â€˜Me, me, me. Me, me, me. Me, me, me, me, me!'"
"I don't really know what's going on with her," Jenna replies. "We do try to make Christmas enjoyable for her, but she just won't accept it, whatever we do."
Addressing Joyce, Dr. Phil asks, "Why did you come here today?"
"Because I need to know what I need to do to be able to accept a gift," she answers. "What have I got to do to make things right at my house around Christmastime?"
"I didn't mean any disrespect toward him at all. I didn't like it, so I needed to take it back," Joyce says.
"You teach people how to treat you," Dr. Phil tells Joyce. "You teach people that trying to do for you is painful, and you judge it, and that's not OK. If you don't like what they buy you, you make a list. If you want to make this about what you receive at Christmas " instead of family unity, and sharing and caring all of that " if you want to make this about presents, then make a list."
Dr. Phil advises Joyce to decorate her house for Christmas. She concedes, but says she'll only do so if Rick helps.
"When you get your electric bill, you just put it in an envelope and send it to me," Dr. Phil tells Joyce with a smile.