When the Holidays Go Wrong
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year when parents bond with their children and we show our deepest appreciation to those we care about most. Or it can be a time when family tensions boil over and unexpected events undermine your holiday plans, turning what should be a festive day into a carnival of awkward moments that may scar you for life.
Here are a few tales from those who have experienced the latter.
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Santa Gets A Beating
It started out as a cute Christmas scene. Tommy Gimler and his cousins were gathered at his grandmother’s house when his Uncle Mike arrived dressed as Santa Claus to give gifts to all the children. But things took a very wrong turn.
“My other uncle, Bob, was wasted that night and wanted to leave the house,” Gimler recalls now, 15 years later. “But he was parked in the driveway behind my uncle Mike. So, Bob started yelling obscenity-laden phrases at Mike to move his car. And Mike responded, ‘Shhh. They think I’m Santa.’”
Uncle Mike finished handing out the gifts and then walked outside to move his Buick, but was followed by Uncle Bob. The two soon had an altercation in the driveway, and Bob ended up punching Mike in the face.
“Mike stormed back into the house almost in tears with a shiner already beginning to take effect. His Santa beard was off now, and he was hollering at my grandma about what happened,” Gimler said. “Meanwhile, all of the kids were crying because my uncle Bob had just punched Santa in the face.”
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Christmas Goes to the Dogs
If you need more proof that Santa has a tough life, consider what happened when Karen Hoxmeier was a kid. Her mother was midway through reading aloud The Night Before Christmas when there was a knock at the door. Lo and behold, it was her dad dressed up as Santa.
“My little brother jumped up and toward Santa with his arms wide open, ready to give him a big hug,” Hoxmeier said. “Unfortunately, the family dog, a German Shepherd named Rosie, beat him to it. Only Rosie didn’t want to hug Santa. She wanted to taste him! Instantly, Santa stopped, ‘HO-HO-HO-ING’ and started, ‘NO-NO-NO-ING.’ My mom literally had to pull Rosie off Santa Claus. I just stood there frozen, thinking Santa would not be leaving us any gifts that year.”
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The Power Outage
You can go to great efforts planning the perfect celebration, but it only takes something like, oh, the power going out to ruin all that work.
“We had 25 people over our house for Christmas Eve one year when our house lost power,” said Kristen Silberberg. “No heat, no lights, no way to cook.”
Not one to be deterred, Silberberg and her party came up with a clever alternative.
“Our neighbor had electricity so we ran a wire from their house to ours to cook. Not very safe, but it got the job done. We lit lots of candles and made the best of it,” she said. “Let’s just say no one wanted to come back to our house for quite a few years.”
As luck would have it, there was yet another surprise waiting for her after all the guests left.
“Once everyone left, the lights came back on. All of a sudden the fire department showed up,” she said. “For some reason the lights coming back on triggered the fire alarm to silently go off and send a message to the fire department.”
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The Bad New Year's Eve Party
There are New Year’s Eve parties and then there are crazy New Year’s Eve parties like the one Tom Bentley and his friends had a few years ago at his first apartment. Bentley and a bunch of friends drank a fair amount of alcohol and then decided to strip their clothes off and go for a naked midnight walk.
Soon, they saw two people walking toward them in the dark down the block, so Bentley and his friends decided to play a prank and approach the couple, “acting as though we were fully-clothed, at ease, and wishing them a Happy New Year’s.”
When the group were a few feet away from the couple, Bentley had a startling realization: It was actually his landlord and landlady.
“Without saying a word, we turned and bolted for the house,” Bentley said. “We ran in, partly in full bloom, screaming that the landlord was outside.”
But it was too late: The landlord and landlady had recognized them, and soon were at the door of the apartment, threatening to call the cops on them all.
The next day, Bentley found a note on his door from the landlady saying they had until the end of the weekend to vacate the apartment.
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One Flu Over the Christmas Tree
Tammy Pescatelli still remembers the year she and her family spent Christmas in bed.
“I flew back from Hollywood to Cleveland for Christmas one year, and the airline lost all of my luggage, which contained everyone’s presents,” she said. “And by the time I got to my parent's house, I was in the middle of a full blown sickness – a fever, chills, stomach problems and the like—so I couldn't muster up the strength to buy replacements.”
“Apparently, I was also very contagious,” she continues, “because my whole family became sick shortly after I got home, and it was a holiday that we all spent in our various beds,” she said. “To this day, my family takes great joy in reminding me of the year I gave everyone the flu for Christmas.”
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The Family Photo
The holidays are a time families get together, but for some, that can be a double-edged sword.
Deborah Merrill, a sociology professor at Clark University who writes frequently about family issues, has heard stories about every kind of family drama, particularly about drama during the holiday season.
One example she recalls is of the tension that built up around taking a simple family photo.
“A mother-in-law decided to have a family photo taken for a holiday card,” Merrill said. “When the son, daughter-in-law and grandchild showed up for the photo shoot, the mother-in-law told the daughter-in-law that she would not be in the picture since she was not a part of the family.”
Unsure what to do, the daughter-in-law simply stood by silently and watched.
“She felt that it was up to her husband to say something to his mother,” Merrill said. “He did not.”
Perhaps it could have been worse. The mother-in-law could have edited her daughter-in-law out of the photo entirely.
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Wacky Holiday Traditions
Every family has its own unique way of celebrating this time of year, from holding a Godfather marathon to water skiing in freezing New York. Check out MainStreet’s roundup of the wackiest holiday traditions.
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