Ahhh, the holiday season. Time to get together with family (what family secrets will be revealed this year?), indulge in beloved traditions (many of which seem more destructive than heartwarming), and exchange gifts (that may make you question your grandmother’s sanity). It’s like an advent calendar, but behind each door there could be disaster, laughter, heartbreak, trauma, or joy. Whether they’re tragic, bizarre, or heartwarming, these stories are proof that the best time for making memories is the holidays.
1. Little Dancers
We have this little hula girl statuette that gets passed around the family at Christmas. Every year someone has the little hula girl and is tasked with stashing it somewhere in another person’s house/luggage for them to discover it. They then have to keep it on display in their home for the entire year until they can stick someone else with it.
The only catch is that no one ever talks about it, and nobody has any idea when it started.
2. Does Not Compute
It doesn’t sound like a life-changing gift, but I’ll never forget the year that my grandma sent me and my sister a brand new computer. She’d always been very generous, but this was unbelievable. We were broke as can be and the idea of my sister and I having our own computer just for us was mind-blowing.
3. Hail Santa
While I was growing up, my dad and I would hide a potato wedge somewhere on the Christmas tree every year to see how long it would take for my mother to notice. Our record was like nine days. Also, this isn’t really a tradition, but my mother has these wooden letters that spell out “SANTA” that she puts out on display during the Christmas season, and I have been rearranging them to say “SATAN” for as long as I can remember.
She gets angry and changes them back whenever she notices, but I just keep doing it.
4. Waxing Poetic
My grandma once gave me a used candle for Christmas. If she absolutely had to give me a candle, couldn’t she have at least bought me a new one??
5. What is Every Grandchild’s Worst Nightmare, Alex?
Speaking of weird grandmas, one year mine threatened to defecate in the turkey if we didn’t let her watch Jeopardy.
6. Nothing Nano About the Size of This Gift
One year I reaaaalllllyyyy wanted an iPod Nano—the skinny one with a small screen and a rotating button. I have to admit they were pretty pricey back then, but somehow my working class and loving single mother managed to buy me one. I love that woman.
7. Fruity Fun
My family has an orange smashing contest at Christmas Eve dinner. Not the chocolate oranges like normal people, but real oranges. Everyone at the table gets one, and gets one hit to do as much damage as they can. My grandma is the judge, and the winner gets to open their present first the next morning.
8. Consolation Prize
When I was 18, I received a Christmas gift from my stepmom’s mom (my step-grandma). It was a wine cooler bag from the dollar store. The card said, “I’m sorry I forgot when your birthday was, but I hope this makes up for it.” Thanks…
9. Meet the Parents: A Horror Film
One Christmas, my stepbrother had just released from jail for possession and distribution. Total black sheep of the family. He brought his girlfriend, who is high out of her mind. They proceed to eat nothing but turkey and rolls. Then she decided to go use in my step-aunt’s bathroom, where we found her passed out. But then, it got worse: My stepbrother attempts to wake her up by punching her in, his words, “the cooter.”
Cops are called. Talk about a memorable Christmas.
My grandma sent my whole family taco seasoning packets one year. Genuinely surprising and more than a little confusing—but awesome at the same time.
11. Rappin’ Around The Christmas Tree
We have a present wrapping competition most years, where we select one gift and try to wrap it extra fancy. Last year it was themed “any time or place.” Some submissions were themed Jurassic Era, Seattle, the garbage bin, and the bathroom. The best submission ever was my brother and his girlfriend on the very first wrapping comp where they conveniently misheard and submitted a Christmas rap.
They wrote and recorded a Christmas rap about the family and it even had backing music.
12. It’s the Thought That Counts
Someone got me a mountain bike as a Christmas present. I have cerebral palsy. They obviously didn’t think this through…
13. Cheesy Excuses
The woman my cousin had just married stole a Costco-sized box of individually wrapped Cheezit packages from our garage. I just happened to notice they were gone when putting food in the fridge. I asked about it publicly and she locked up, started stuttering, and went to get them out of her car. She returned with the excuse “I thought these were mine. I have a box just like them at home.”
14. A Hunting We Will Go
My favorite gift was the BB gun I got when I was a kid. It was hidden, so I had to go on a hunt for clues to find it. Fun stuff!
15. Nutty For Narnia
Every year at Christmas, my mum and dad turn their bedroom into Narnia. You open their door to be met with fur coats and a load of fake snow chucked at you by one of my cousins. An overworked smoke machine has filled the room with its magical mist, so the only thing you can see is a half-sized street lamp glowing in the corner. As the smoke clears you see Mr. Tumnus (my dad) who greets you with some (recorded) flute music.
After this, the white witch (my mum) invites you onto her sleigh (her bed), and offers you some Turkish Delight. That’s when things get really weird. When all of the siblings are on the bed, the sleigh-ride begins (they’ve set up a projector which shows a first-person view of a mountain ride), while they and my cousins (who are dressed as animals) run up and down the sides of the bed throwing fake snow at you and holding bits of tree to make it look, in my mother’s words, “more realistic.”
Then we all get drunk and open our presents. I should point out that this tradition is only three years old, and it’s gotten more elaborate every year. I should also point out that the youngest of the children in my family is 25. Also, we have Christmas on the 27th so everyone can go to their partners’ families on the 25th.
16. I Don’t ‘Like’ This Gift
My girlfriend liked a Facebook status I had posted six weeks prior about something that was important to me that I had wanted to promote. What’s the relevance here? Well, that was her Christmas gift to me. The thing was already over and done too…
17. Missing That Special Sauce
At one Christmas dinner, I was witness to a truly horrifying sight. I watched as my uncle poured Crown Royal on his turkey and ate it.
18. From the Heart
I’m a teacher, and the greatest gift I ever received was a handwritten letter telling me how much I impacted a student’s life. I sometimes get a couple a year and they are always my favorite thing.
19. Santa’s Nightcap
My favorite holiday tradition? Leaving rum out for Santa, since “it’s a rough night for him.”
20. A Victim of Circumstance
One year, I had left some video games lying around in my mom’s room. She found them and assumed my dad had bought them as Christmas gifts for me. So that Christmas I got… my own games.
21. So Much for Big Brother
One Christmas, my brother got trashed before the dinner started then slapped me at the table for being a mouthy woman—I asked if he wanted the mashed potatoes, for reference—and then ran off to puke.
22. Wheel of Fortune
My 8-year-old son fell victim to the fidget spinner craze this past spring. So, of course, I bought him one—because it’s only $5, so why the heck not? Anyway, the holidays rolled around, and he was so upset because he didn’t have any money to get me a present. So what did he do? He went into his room, wrapped up his fidget spinner—at the time, his most prized possession—and gave it to me.
I hugged him and thanked him immensely, and then asked if maybe we could just share it, since it’s no fun playing by yourself. Fast forward a few months and we now have eight fidget spinners between us, because it’s become this little inside thing where we buy each other one whenever we get a chance.
23. Armed and Dangerous
On Christmas Eve, after all the wrapping paper was off, my whole extended family would have a wrapping paper-ball fight. It usually would last until one of my aunts would get hit in the face and become grumpy. Then sometimes my Grandma would laugh and throw another ball at that aunt.
24. Starstruck By Himself
My very first Christmas with my husband’s family after we got married, we were all passing around gifts. Most of his family very graciously gave us the standard newlywed gifts—dishes, towels, picture frames, etc. That is, everyone except for this one uncle. He fancies himself a media producer. He gave me a DVD that he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, about how to be a good mother.
No, I did not have children at the time, nor was I even pregnant. No, he does not have children. No, he is not in the childcare or child development field. No, he did not notice the bewildered looks on any of our faces. My husband is polite to a fault and would not let me re-gift it back to the uncle the following Christmas, even though my mother-in-law thought it would be hilarious.
25. Against the Bro Code
Once on Thanksgiving, my brothers got into a fight for an utterly disturbing reason. It came out that my oldest brother slept with my younger brother’s new wife, who was like 20 years younger than him. They got into a fist fight and broke through the wall of their dad’s trailer. The police had to be called. Aaaand that’s why I stopped going to family evenings.
This was by no means an unusual occurrence, just the first thing that came to mind.
26. Living the Dream
My favorite Christmas gift of all time was a Barbie dream house. I had been led to believe that it was no longer available. It had an elevator, guys!!
27. Do It For Mom
Even though my siblings and I are all moved out of the house, when we get to my mother’s house on Christmas Day she makes us wait at the top of the stairs so she can get a picture of us running downstairs to our pile of presents under the tree. We are all in our 20s, by the way.
28. Lost in Translation
One year, I got a shirt that said, “I’m not a gynecologist, but I’ll take a look anyway!” It was from my stepdad’s mom. She knows I want to be a doctor, and her English is no bueno. I found it hilarious. Once we translated it to her she almost cried from embarrassment. I proudly wore it for the rest of the day.
29. Uncle Elvis
On Thanksgiving one year, my uncle shot the TV because of how the Lions were playing. Checking game histories, it would definitely have been ‘77. It was a 17-inch black and white TV, with two knobs—one for VHF channels and one for UHF. He and my dad had started drinking early and the Lions were awful. After a bad play late in the game he strolled into the bedroom, picked up his revolver and shot the TV.
We ate dinner shortly after and then went to my grandma’s house to watch the Cowboys game.
30. Kitchen Confidential
A couple of years ago, I got the best Christmas present ever: a Kitchenaid mixer! My mom got her red one a month or so early for Christmas and I had been wanting one sooo bad. She told me “Hey, I had to wait until I was 45!” I was 21 at the time. We all take turns opening gifts on Christmas morning. My husband knew about this surprise gift. Everyone was finished with gifts till 20 minutes later, when they tell me to come out into the entryway and there’s another box.
In it was my pretty blue Kitchenaid mixer!! My mom loves to do that with gifts. You think you’re done opening and then bam, surprise. She did that for my brother and I when we were younger for iPods, too.
31. Where Does It End?
In my family, we try to disguise our presents in different sized boxes, and try to make it as ridiculous and hilarious to open as is possible. My favorite example was two years ago, what my brothers present to me was (at first) a box that was roughly the size of a printer. Then it was several boxes within a box (all boxes were wrapped of course), and then in the very last box was a deodorant stick.
Then I had to unscrew the deodorant all the way until it popped out, and underneath that was a plastic bag that contained a gift card. Yeah, we waste a lot of wrapping paper, but it’s hilarious seeing all of us get frustrated trying to figure out what the present is.
I lived in Korea. Spam was highly regarded over there and was quite a bit more expensive than back in the States. At Christmas time, they had Spam gift sets for sale all over the place. One year, I got a five-pack of Spam as a gift set from my boss and his wife. I’m vegan.
33. Dinner Rolls
My aunt was sent to bed because she was too drunk last year and ended up falling down the stairs an hour later when she tried coming back downstairs.
34. Blast From the Past
Me and my boyfriend have been together since we were in primary school, which for anyone outside the UK is first and second grade. We’re now in our 20s and for Christmas two years ago, he gave me a montage of all of the messages and letters we had written to each other throughout the years. I’ve framed it and kept it next to my bedside ever since.
35. God Bless The ’90s
When I was born my mom had been on this show called Supermarket Sweep (bad Canadian game show), however, no one knew about this until one year my older brother spends six months taping reruns of the show trying to find it. He found it and then showed me. Since this was the early 90s you can bet my mom was in a matching purple sweat pantsuit with permed hair.
Anyway, he found the tape and decided it would be perfect to surprise my mom with at our big family dinner on Christmas. It was hilarious and we now bring it out every Christmas because we can and it never gets old watching my mom answer questions about groceries.
36. Second Time’s a Charm
A family member of mine was gifted a horribly ugly red and brown purse. She hated it and said it was ugly. She then re-gifted it to me and said maybe it was more my style. It was not. Also, rude…
37. Keep It in the Family (Stone)
My husband’s brother and his sister-in-law (who was married to his OTHER brother) always disappeared for about 20 to 40 minutes at the same time. This happened for four years in a row before anyone got nosey enough to go looking for them. The cherry on top? That sister-in-law is now married to the brother she used to secretly hook up with.
38. Leader of the Pack
I’ve always loved wolves and there’s a wolf sanctuary in Missouri, so my mother donated money to adopt a wolf for me. We got to go on a tour of the whole sanctuary. It’s still my favorite present ever.
39. Band of Brothers Binge
Me and my brother used to watch Band of Brothers, all ten hours, on Christmas Eve. It’s weird when the Battle of Bastogne reminds you of Holly Jolly Christmas cheers.
40. The Gift of a Lesson
My cousin had died in a drunk driving accident a few months before, so my mom got me a breathalyzer keychain as my Christmas gift. I see what my mom was trying to do, but it was still messed up in my opinion.
41. Can’t Wash These Sins Away
One Christmas, one of my aunts found out her husband was sleeping with someone else. I mean, affairs happen, but this was way different. Her husband was sleeping with her brother. She found one of her husband’s shirts from a vacation they took with “stains” on it in her brother’s bedroom when she went to the bathroom. I wasn’t surprised though, to be honest.
42. Pleasant Surprise
I was the biggest “hip-hop head” as a kid and always wanted turntables. I saw a big box under the tree for me and I just thought that has to be it. On Christmas, to my surprise, it wasn’t the turntables—it was a double tape boombox that took like 20 D batteries. I bumped that thing every day. Still one of the best gifts ever.
43. Obligatory Dad Joke
My dad has one Christmas tradition that he loves and that the rest of us aren’t quite as excited about. We all have to hear the lamest joke my dad has heard in the past year before we can open presents.
44. A Healthy Snack
One Christmas, I received a package of fake M&M’s that were actually lentils on the inside. They came in a plastic tube. Who would even produce such a thing?
45. What’s the Scoop?
My Aunt Janie took a bunch of Xanax—and who knows what else—on top of a jug of Carlo Rossi that she had hidden in her room. She then proceeded to steal every spoon in the house while the rest of us were drinking and playing games. EVERY. SINGLE. SPOON. We found them in her purse. Why just the spoons?
46. Man’s Best Friend
I got a puppy one year for Christmas. It was not only the best gift I’ve ever gotten, she was also my best friend for 13 years. Miss ya girl.
47. Meet Me in the Middle
In my family, we call each other by our middle names on Christmas Eve. I have no idea how it started.
48. A Leg Up on All the Other Stories
This wasn’t my gift, but it was the most awkward situation ever. A few years ago, my grandma had her legs amputated. Last Christmas, my aunt bought her a pair of socks. It was sooo awful.
49. Clean Diet
My grandma accidentally poured dish soap on the turkey instead of oil… might have been one of the funniest but most upsetting things I’ve ever seen.
50. Popping the Question
I got engaged on Christmas. He had our daughter, who was two years old at the time, come down the stairs wearing a shirt that said: “Will you marry my daddy?”
51. Family Feuds
Person A brings up something Person C did back when they where young. Person B defends Person C with the line “It’s all in the past! It’s Xmas!” Person A and C start to fight. Person A has won the last four fights at Xmas. They lost at Thanksgiving this year however. Person C has given up and refuses to attend anymore Holiday events now.
Me? I took up my sister’s tradition of putting rum in my coffee and refusing to leave the front sitting room.
52. Young At Heart
For Christmas, my ex-mother-in-law got my husband an Xbox. She got me a box of diapers. Like, I was grateful, but not really a gift for me…
53. What Goes Around Comes Around
My grandmother ran over herself with her own SUV. I was on my way to the festivities when it happened, so I don’t know the exact details, but she was getting food out from the back of her SUV, put it in neutral instead of park, and it slowly ran her over. The craziest part is that my family, all inside, didn’t notice until they heard a bump against the house.
The SUV made three loops before hitting the house. She ended up being fine but now isn’t allowed to go outside alone anymore on holidays. This story is now an “Oh, Grandma!” moment in our family.
54. Sewing the Seeds
I got a sewing machine when I was about 12 years old. Best gift ever. I just replaced it about 15 years later, but that little machine got put to good use. I was a skinny kid and most of my clothes were hand-me-downs or garage sale finds. So I sewed them to make me look good! Expanded all my girl pockets. Thanks, mom! Best gift ever!
55. Breakfast of Champions
Every year, my family eats chocolate for breakfast on Christmas day, because who needs a balanced breakfast?
56. Sounds Pretty Ruff
My grandmother gave my boyfriend a coffee mug with a picture of a German Shepherd dog on it. He has never owned nor expressed any interest in German Shepherds. He uses it at work. It’s a great conversation starter. People ask, “Oh, do you have a German Shepherd?” When he says no, they give him a blank look.
57. Burn Rubber
I thought it would be a funny prank to put a rubber chicken in the oven on Thanksgiving. My mom would laugh and laugh. Ho ho ho, there’s a rubber chicken in the oven, what a gag. 13-year-old me didn’t realize that normal adults usually preheat the oven before putting the turkey in. Yeah, that was a memorable (and smelly) holiday.
58. Not So Fast, Big Debbie!
Ten years ago, I was OBSESSED with Little Debbie Christmas cakes. Whenever my mom would buy them, I would eat a box by myself and she would have to hide them. We made jokes about it and she called me “Big Debbie.” Anyway… I REALLY wanted a cell phone for Christmas. I had been begging for one all year because I was the last of my friends without one and my older sister had gotten one for her birthday the year before.
That was the only thing I wanted, I told my parents. It’s Christmas Day and my family is opening presents. Before unwrapping, I inspected each of mine to see which was most shaped like a box that would hold a cell phone. After doing size and shake tests, only one wrapped box made sense. I ripped the paper off and I’m laughing just remembering how my face totally sunk.
It was a box of Little Debbie cakes. I pushed it aside to open the other few gifts from my family and when I was done, I sat there frowning—being the spoiled teen that I was—watching everyone else open presents. “Emily, can you pass me one of the Little Debbie cakes?” my mom asked me. I was about to toss the box to her when she yelled, “Don’t you dare throw the damn box at me. Open it and pass me one like a civilized human being.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled the tape off the box to open it. Inside, there were no cakes. There was nothing but another box—for an LG flip phone. I may have cried. My mom was laughing hysterically.
59. Christmas Critters
My favorite tradition is my winter Christmas tree! I live near a wildlife reserve and there are all sorts of animals wandering into our neighborhood so we always put up a tree in the front yard and string it with popcorn, cranberries, dried fruit and little birdseed ornaments and jerky. Then we put hay all around the bottom. It’s a big relief for animals surviving the winter, plus you get to watch them all!
60. A For Effort
In theory, it was the best gift, because it was heartfelt, but in practice, it was definitely the worst, because of how much everyone made fun of me. In the late 70s, all the cool kids wore Ocean Pacific brand clothing. We were kinda poor, so my mom and grandma made most of our clothes. One year, my grandma made me pants and hand-stitched the letters O and P on the pockets.
They looked nothing like the real thing. I had to wear them anyway.
61. Not-So-Good Old Days
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner my step-grandfather will always bring up his father’s death. He always goes into detail about how he walked into the kitchen to see his father’s body on the floor with his head blown off. Either that or politics. Yay, holiday traditions. -_-
62. Family Entertainment
This was the first time I ever cried over a Christmas gift. It was my first Christmas as a mom and my first without my mom, and she was the biggest Christmas lover ever. I opened a gift from my aunt, one of my mom’s sisters, and it was a DVD collection of all the classic Claymation Christmas movies (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.). I cried. I watch them every year with my kiddo.
63. Good Dumb Fun
Every year when we open our presents, we turn the ceiling fan on high and throw crumpled-up wrapping paper into it.
64. The Elephants in the Room
My mother once gave my husband a truly tacky decorative statue of two elephants having intercourse. Kinda hilarious, entirely inappropriate.
65. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Aiming Out of Your League
My grandparents had a new oven, and my grandmother had never made a turkey in it before. The turkey drippings somehow caught fire and the kitchen filled up with smoke. We called 9-1-1 but by the time the fire department arrived, my dad and grandfather had put out the fire. So, when the firemen arrived, there was no more fire.
They were really nice and understanding. My grandmother was mortified. My drunk aunt tried hitting on all of the firemen even though she had a good 25 or 30 years on them. My cousin and I just stood in the front yard drinking beers in silence, watching it all play out. Fortunately, the turkey was fine, and dinner proceeded normally once everything settled down.
The best gift I ever received was seeing the expression on my parents’ faces when I enlisted in the Marines and surprised them by being home for Christmas after I had them convinced that I definitely wasn’t going to be able to.
67. A Bit of a Pickle
Every year my mom hangs this pickle ornament on the Christmas tree and whichever kid finds it first gets an extra present. I, apparently, got the ornament for her for her birthday when I was younger and it has been a tradition ever since. The extra present is normally a candy bar of some sort that me, my sister, and my brother have to share. But hey, we still found the pickle, so at least we have bragging rights!
68. It’s Not What It Looks Like
I got a gift card to a lingerie store from my grandma. The messed up part wasn’t the gift itself, but the fact that she made my poor 19-year-old brother go in and buy it. The conversation went something like this: the cashier asked: “Are you shopping for your girlfriend?” My brother was forced to answer, “No, for my sister…well, actually my grandma…” Cue awkward silence.
69. Can’t Hardly Wait
Last year, my husband’s grandma hosted Thanksgiving dinner at her house and asked us to provide the turkey—and that’s not even the worst part. We had to go to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s dad’s side that morning, so we dropped the turkey off on our way to his dad’s house. His grandma said that they would be eating at 4.
We arrived back at his grandma’s house around 3:45 and everyone had already eaten all the food. Including the entire turkey.
70. The Beat Goes On
The first drum kit that I got when I was 16 years old was the greatest thing ever. I had wanted a kit since I was 5. I lost my mind when I removed the wrapping paper.
71. A Well-Deserved Break
On Christmas Eve and all day that day I stay home. I cook a big meal and whoever wants to come can come, but we go exactly nowhere. This is a huge thing for me because my parents are divorced, my husband has several family obligations so for years we spent Christmas Eve and day just driving from house to house, barely getting to sit down before we had to be up to the next place, and once we had the only grandkid on both sides it got even worse.
It is so nice to just have one day of staying still, eating my cooking, and spending time together.
72. When Size Does Matter
One Christmas, I only got clothes as gifts. I like getting clothes, and the designs on them were amazing. The problem was that every single article of clothing was too small for me, and none of them came with a receipt. All those clothes ended up going to my little brother and he got double the amount of gifts, while I ended up with nothing.
73. Cash This in the Bank
At my friend’s conservative Catholic family’s house for Thanksgiving, and his older brother told everyone that my pal had gotten a tattoo. His parents were mad and forced him to show them the tattoo. When they saw that it was a dollar sign on his left butt cheek, there were in tears.
74. Long Term and Short Term Wins
In my junior year of high school, the folks squirreled every penny to purchase an investment property. They clearly communicated that because of this, there wasn’t going to be much, if anything, under the tree. Flash cut to Christmas Eve and the doorbell rings about 9 PM. I answer it to find a brand new powder blue Univega 10-speed bike.
Still tears me up as they found a way to make this possible!!! I’m 45 years old now and thanks to my business-savvy parents, my family has a solid financial portfolio. Best parents ever.
75. Collect ‘Em All
My family tradition is a little weird. I have a family of five and when we visit my parents for Christmas they scatter all of the gifts across their ten acres of wooded property. Last year I had to cut a rope to lower a gift down because it was suspended 30ft in the air.
76. What is the Meaning of This Gift?
One Christmas, I received a dictionary from my parents with the price sticker still stuck on it. They bought it for five dollars. I wasn’t even mad—I didn’t get anything the year before.
77. Do You Think Dinner Will Be Late?
I heard some screaming from outside my apartment. I opened the door and saw this lady running to the dumpster with a turkey still in the pan on fire. She threw it into the dumpster which then caught fire. I called 9-1-1 so the fire department could put it out.
78. Something to Remember Her By
I received a Seiko watch from my wife of 37 years, for Christmas 2014. She passed away three weeks later. I cherish it very preciously.
79. But… Why?
On Christmas Eve we all pack up into the car and drive around looking at the Christmas lights around town. Sounds pretty normal, right? Well, maybe not so much. We drink chocolate milk from baby bottles while we do it.
80. Thinking Outside the Box
The year the Nintendo 64 came out, it was all that me and my brothers wanted for Christmas. We rented a system from Blockbuster every chance we got and it came in a black carrying case. Fast forward to Christmas morning and one of these very boxes is under the tree. We thought maybe my parents had gotten a used one or something, and we were beyond excited to open that puppy up.
We saw the tag was from our grandparents, who were very anti-video games. Maybe they came around, we thought. Maybe it’s a Christmas miracle. We pop open the lid and sitting inside is… a typewriter. An electric typewriter. My grandfather thought we could use it to work on our typing skills. All three of us were devastated.
81. Fear the Booty
One year, my dad broke my grandparent’s toilet with the power of his bowels. He ended up having to buy them a new toilet—which he broke a year later at Christmas with the same method. If you can tell, my family fears my dad’s bowels and we have many more stories about him and toilets.
82. The Art of Love
I was blown away when my mom gave me an art tablet when I was 15 years old. We really didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but she saved for months to get me that. She always invested in art supplies for me and I was, and still am, so grateful for that.
83. The Reluctant Elves
On Christmas Eve, we have a tradition of the Christmas Elf. All the kids take turns putting on the pointy green Elf hat and putting a present under the tree. They are all in their 20s now, and my wife still makes them do it. We have a bunch of pictures of bored, annoyed 20-year-olds posing with a present by the tree wearing a stupid green Elf hat.
84. Better Late Than Never?
My aunt once got me a wooden toy playset, recommended for ages 2-4. I was 14.
85. Slow Cooker
My mother bought a new stove and had me, my brother, his very pregnant girlfriend, and a few others over for Thanksgiving dinner. About a half-hour to an hour before the turkey was supposed to be done, Mom checked on it. It was still raw. She had hit the wrong button when programming the new stove and accidentally shut it off.
Luckily, we learned you can in fact microwave a turkey because, judging from the look my brother’s pregnant girlfriend gave, she was ready to eat my mom. The turkey was a bit dry but otherwise? Not bad.
86. The Old Switcharoo
My sister’s boyfriend basically Secret Santa catfished me using the anonymous message feature on the website the family uses to organize our gift exchange. He asked really ridiculous questions that led me to believe that he was one of my relatives who always gives terrible presents. His messages for weeks leading up to Christmas made me believe he was going to buy me all this ugly and random stuff instead of anything remotely resembling what I liked.
On Christmas Day, I was perfectly prepared to pretend to love whatever hideous present my relative had picked out for me, but instead, I unwrapped the exact cookbook I had been dying for and the exact brand of nail polish I loved. I still cherish those items, but the real surprise was that it had been him pranking me the whole time!
I had basically already thought of him as my brother at that point, but this sealed the deal.
87. Pajama Time
My dad has this thing where every year he gives people pajamas. Like he’ll give you a regular gift, but aside from that, he will also give you pajamas. He’s done this to me and my mom for years and also does it to every girl I’ve dated. I don’t know why he does it and I’ve honestly never asked, but I feel like if he stopped doing it, I would be sad because I actually look forward to seeing what kind of weird pajamas he got for me this year.
88. Rest in Peace
My worst present was a kitten. I know, it sounds like I’m a huge meanie, but just wait. I was about to make a cross-country move with my then-girlfriend, and her mother gave us a kitten without any discussion beforehand. It died the next day from a parasite or something. We rushed it to a vet but it was too late. So we got to pay for a vet visit and a cremation.
And we were both heartbroken. Thanks, mom.
89. See Through Your Excuses
One year, I spent all day cleaning the house for the guests. I made sure the windows were incredibly clean and clear. My little brother and cousin were chasing each other outside. Brother comes running through the door, which was clearly open because you couldn’t see the gla… uh oh. He slammed through the plate glass window and got a massive gash on his face and leg.
80 stitches, plastic surgery, and a multiple-day hospital stay. Don’t clean your windows too well.
90. The Early Board Gets the Worm
Although this was a Christmas present, I got it a couple weeks beforehand because I was visiting family that lives in the mountains before Christmas. My parents took me out to dinner and gave me a card with enough money to buy a snowboard, boots, binding, and a bag. I literally broke down crying in the restaurant. It was such an amazing gift. I got a great board that I adore.
91. Pet Festivities
My favorite family tradition happens on Christmas Eve. After church service, the family loads up the dog and cat in the car and drives around looking at Christmas lights. We end it with a trip to Tastee Freeze to get a hamburger for the dog and a small vanilla ice cream for the cat. Humans don’t get anything.
92. Who Cut the Cheese?
I usually never request Christmas gifts, but when my mother asked me what I wanted one year, I told her I needed an electric razor. She must have misheard, because she legitimately got me a cheese grater.
93. Duck These Carbs
Someone will say “Pass the dinner rolls” in front of my dad and he will pick it up and throw it at them. Every. Single. Year. You have to specifically say “Please hand me the dinner rolls,” or you get a bun thrown at your head.
94. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Mine was a whole crazy story, but the gift was $12 cash from an old Australian couple to get me home to my family for Christmas. The bus company wouldn’t split my 25$ ticket between the $13 I had in cash and the $19 I had on my debit card, and the couple was behind me in line. I never even got their names. Not that they are ever going to read this, but thank you.
95. Who Needs Turkey When You Have Turkey?
We eat Turkish food. Here in Australia, it is usually hot on Christmas day. So neither my wife nor I could be bothered to do any cooking one year, but we discovered that the only takeaway place near us was the Turkish restaurant. It was perfect. We had a bunch of different dips, Turkish bread, olives, chicken. Because it is a nibbling food, Christmas lunch ends up lasting four hours.
I think eventually everyone in Australia will have Turkish food for Christmas lunch.
96. Let There Be Gifts!
One Christmas, my grandma gave me a glittery pink Bible. I am both a tomboy and an atheist. I assume she meant well though!
97. Better Out Than In
Ah, the worst holiday was probably where the entire family—an odd 20 or so—got sick so we all had to take turns going into the bathroom to throw up for the rest of the night. Nobody ate the turkey after that.
98. This Magic Moment
I was obsessed with Beanie Babies when I was little and the one I wanted the most was Magic the White Dragon. Since it was one of the rarer ones and super expensive, I didn’t think my parents would be able to get me one for Christmas. I open my present to a shirt box full of Beanie Babies and there she was! Magic!
99. Spread The Love
Assuming it’s reasonably cold, we make a large pot of soup, some cornbread, and a bunch of Christmas cookies, and then Christmas Eve or Christmas Day we go “homeless hunting” and pass out hot soup, cornbread, and cookies. Sometimes we get gloves and socks to pass out as well. The soup will heat up their hands as they hold it, even in an insulated coffee cup with a lid.
Typically, it’s something like chili or pinto beans and ham/bacon, so it’s “soul food” that is hard to get without a kitchen (but it’s cheap to prepare, which is nice). Really makes it seem like Christmas.
100. Chomper Challenges
My girlfriend knew I was very self-conscious about my teeth and wouldn’t smile very much. When I did, I’d try really hard to hide my teeth. Well, this girl’s family bought me a toothbrush. It even had my name on it. I got that they had good intentions, but I was horrified that they’d noticed.
101. Homework on the Holidays
My first semester of university after moving to Canada from America, my uncle offered to have me over. I spend 12 hours traveling from my university to his place, only for him to put me to work on demolishing the bathroom tiles. Then, he puts me to work on figuring out how many tiles he needs. Then, it’s time for me to go home on a 12-hour journey and have a midterm.
I was told we’d be celebrating Thanksgiving. I didn’t even get a nice dinner out of it.
102. The Gift of Cleanliness
My boyfriend told me last night that he was bringing a new animal friend home for our dog. This is absolutely something he’d do and I was not happy. Then he got home and he’d actually bought me a Dyson Animal vacuum as an early Christmas present. I was extremely happy. It’s AMAZING.
103. Festive Fiesta
Every year, we make a six-foot-long burrito by laying down a lot of tortillas. Once all the food is on it we all gather around it and roll the burrito together as a family.
104. This Gift Choked
I got a literal lump of coal from my best friend in college. It was a “gag gift.” He said it was the “gift of warmth.” Meanwhile, I bought him an MP3 player.
105. Not All Firsts Are Worth Celebrating
My two-year-old brother had his first seizure at the dinner table. That’s how we found out he had epilepsy. So that’s my family’s big Christmas memory: sheer terror.
106. Oops, I Did It Again!
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but one year, my mom bought me this Britney Spears perfume that I had wanted for a longgggg time. I even took a picture of it and printed it—and it’s in my photo album to this day. My mom always did her best as a single mother and I adore and love her dearly.
107. Dinner Rolls Never Die
After Thanksgiving dinner, my sister and I (we’re both adults now) will engage in a friendly fight with leftover dinner rolls, as my mom always burns a few. We’ll throw them at each other outside, and hide them in each other’s cars. This year I got her pretty good by hiding one between the gas cap and the gas tank lid.
The rolls then re-surface as rock-hard Christmas gifts a month later. Rolls from past years have been re-gifted, so you open up a package that contains a mummified roll with “2011” written in sharpie on it.
108. Lactose Intolerant
My sister got me a bag of Kroger shredded cheese one year.
109. Playing Favorites
One Christmas, my mom cried in the bathroom half the night because I told her to stop feeding the dogs food I was going to eat.
110. Always on the Lookout
My favorite gift was Mikasa Cheers stemless wine glasses. I was looking at them in a store in the late summer and thought they were too expensive to buy. My husband paid attention and picked them up for me for Christmas.
111. On The Hour Every Hour
I love this tradition but most people find it really strange. On Christmas morning we aren’t allowed all our presents but rather we get one present every hour. It’s brilliant; the anticipation lasts all day and you get to really enjoy each present . It’s also scary because as a kid you knew you were bound to whatever gift you picked for an hour so it was often a heartwrenching decision!
112. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
My best gift was a photograph that I myself had taken.
My mom died a year ago of a very aggressive form of leukemia. She was diagnosed on a Tuesday and died 11 days later.
During those 11 days, we opted for in-home hospice. While she was still lucid and awake, she met with her grandchildren and presented each of them with a baby quilt that she had painstakingly hand-made for their children (her great-grandchildren), if and when they were to have any.
“I wanted to present these to you when you actually have your children,” she said, “but that’s not going to happen, so I’m giving these to you now.”
I, in the background, quietly observing—and trying not to fall apart—snapped a photo of the scene—my mom in her robe with her grandchildren (all in their early/mid-20s) sitting around her, each with a beautiful quilt over their laps—and sent it to a friend of mine to kind of share in the pain and grief.
Six months later, for Christmas, my friend had that photo printed out and put into a simple frame, wrapped it, and gave it to me as a present.
I hadn’t given the photo much thought and had almost forgotten about it. So unwrapping it and seeing Mom there again hit me like a freight train.
113. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again
My grandparents are notorious re-gifters. There was this old, broken pinball game thing that every time they’d gift to one of us, we’d purposely leave it at their house. Then they would find it and gift it again in a couple of years, like we’d forgotten all about it. This cycle repeated itself several times throughout my childhood.
114. The Last Supper
A decade or two ago I was at my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time in a while the whole clan had gathered at the table, so it was fully extended with all extension leaves being used. Unfortunately, it was a somewhat cheaply made table, and once the turkey was placed in the center, it collapsed.
The center buckled under the weight and fell, causing both ends to rise up, sending the rest of the feast sliding toward the gaping maw. I managed to grab the mashed potatoes (my favorite dish), but everything else was a loss. Since I was five years old I found it hilarious, though now that I’m older I can imagine how much that must’ve sucked.
115. Joy From All Sides
I’m a big fan of The Office, and my sister got me a Dundee award last year. It was for “best sister” and had my name engraved and everything. Best gift! My boyfriend also surprised me with a telescope last Christmas. He then took me out to use it when he proposed a few months later.
116. Everyone Has That One Aunt
Not a terribly weird thing, but I have an aunt that spikes everyone’s coffee. She shows up with Starbucks, doses it up in the car, and then hands it out to everyone inside. The kids’ drinks are obviously not “topped off,” so I got a pleasant surprise after I turned 16. Oh, and everyone keeps bottles of liquor in the bathroom cabinet.
We should really just drink in the open like normal people.
117. Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car
Someone once gave me a gas station gift card. I didn’t have a car…
When I was 5 or 6 years old, we were at Thanksgiving dinner at my Oma’s house. I was reaching for food, and I reached directly over a candle, burning my wrist. My dad rushed me back into the kitchen, where he used water to put out the fire. That was pretty funny, honestly.
119. A New Furry Friend
My favorite gift was an abandoned kitten. My boyfriend adopted her and gifted her to me. Now, she’s a happy family member and has made our life so much better thanks to her joyous presence.
120. Kings and Queens For a Night
I come from a very, very poor family. I didn’t see my mom a whole lot growing up, but she would normally turn up for birthdays, and I usually spent Christmas Eve with her. Although she and a lot of her hippie friends struggled financially, they all pitched in to make Christmas Eve tons of fun. They always got a lot of high-class foods, and we would all sit around on the 24th, sipping on Drambuie from a big snifter and eating caviar on fancy crackers.
Everyone brought the fanciest dishware they had, and we’d sit in the formal living room of one of my mom’s friends’ who had inherited a house from her once wealthy grandparents. All the settings were mismatched silver trays and China serving bowls, but damned did we ever feel like royalty on that one night every year.
121. Picture Perfect
For a couple of years, my dad had gotten my mother those little ornaments that you put a family picture in, but she would never take the one that came with it out and put one in of us. Now it has become a tradition to get her one every year knowing that she won’t put a picture in it. So our Christmas tree is now filled with those generic stock photo families.
We have Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Caucasians, you name it. We always tell people they are our extended family if they don’t know about it yet. We have about ten of them now.
122. Getting Everything Wrong
One Christmas, my grandma gave me a pair of bright red men’s underwear with googly eyes on them. I’m a girl.
123. You’re Breaking My Something
We witnessed a faked heart attack. It was very surreal. And her husband was so embarrassed. Here’s what happened. Grandmother didn’t like my dad very much, and she picked a fight with him, so he decided that he was going home. When grandmother realized that my stepmom (her daughter) was going to take dad’s side and go home too, she yelled a lot and then, as a last-ditch effort, dramatically clutched her chest and collapsed very carefully—it was outside, and I guess she didn’t want to bump her head or muss her clothes.
Dad offered to call 9-1-1, grandfather said it wasn’t necessary, and when grandmother realized no one was taking her seriously she opened her eyes, allowed grandfather to help her up, and went inside with him while fake sobbing. Normally she was quite nice, but she had her moments and really wasn’t happy that her daughter had grown up and had a life.
Holidays usually brought out the worst in her. Which was weird, because she loved cooking and celebrating.
124. Christmas Breakfast
My parents got me a bag of cereal for Christmas. That probably sounds sad or somewhat pathetic, but I’ll explain why. My parents aren’t good at giving gifts, in general, and there usually isn’t much thought put into it. I’ll get generic hoodies from Walmart, basic shirt or boxer packs, movies I’m not interested in, etc.
But! One year, they gave me this giant bag of cereal of a brand that I used to eat every day back home, and that I had trouble finding in Chicago where I had since moved. It brought back a lot of sentimental feelings since I had been missing home. Plus, it was thoughtful since I had been telling my parents it was hard to find.
To this day, that’s my favorite Christmas present I’ve gotten.
125. Pigging Out
Our family always makes one hundred “pigs in blankets,” little cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon. There’s only five of us, but making any less is considered sacrilege.
126. Tea-ing Off on This One
One Christmas, my mum gave me a little pair of tongs for squeezing tea bags. I must have been like 16 or so at the time. Just for reference, we weren’t a poor family. The reason for no effort on gifts was because me and my brother kinda stopped caring about that sorta thing as we got older and didn’t ask for anything. But still, we were like “Why would you even wrap this? What a cruel joke.”
To top it off, they sucked. The tongs bent when you tried to squeeze a tea bag.
127. Drunk Parent Tennis
Last year my dad got blind drunk. Like the drunkest I have ever seen him. He kicked me and my girlfriend out of the house very loudly, and when we were packing up, he came asked why we were leaving and demanded we stay. After another five minutes, he came back and kicked us out again. We went to my mom’s house who, and it was somehow even worse. She was so drunk we couldn’t wake her up.
So we ended up playing Borderlands all night.
128. Sock It to Me!
Really comfortable socks were the greatest and most underrated, gift I’ve ever received. It may sound silly, but they are truly awesome and I always love wearing them to this day.
129. Cinnamon Celebration
Every Thanksgiving my family eats Cinnabons and grapefruit while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. That’s the strangest tradition we have I guess.
130. There’s No “I” in Photo
I once got a framed and deliberately posed picture of myself that I have no recollection of ever being taken.
131. I Sense Tension from All Sorts of Places
My dog ate the whole entire turkey and my grandma farted on a stool, causing it to break. Also, my stoner cousin got in a huge fight with my lawyer sister. How’s that for unforgettable?
132. Old and Grey
My father thought it would be awesome to hype up his gift. I was 16 and had a full head of grey hair, so I received a giant box. Inside was a box of Just For Men. The gift was a hit and left us laughing for days!
133. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
My entire dad’s side of the family (parents, four brothers, one sister and their families) lives within 30 minutes of each other so every year we gather at my uncle’s house, eat lots of hors d’oeuvres, and at around 7pm or so, me, my brother, and all of our cousins sit on the couch (or stand behind it) around my uncle as he reads “The Night Before Christmas.”
We’ve done this every year for as long as I can remember. We currently range in age from 3-30, with most of us in the upper age range. Trying to fit 13 full-size adults on one couch is always fun! It’s so important to me that I’m actually Skyping in this year since I’m currently a Peace Corps Volunteer on the other side of the world.
I miss my family but I’m excited to hold up the tradition. Yay internet!
134. When The Worst is Actually the Best
Growing up I used to hate that my uncle would get all of us kids the same $1 pair of cheap one size fits all gloves. I clearly remember thinking how I’d really rather just have the dollar, and yet he never failed to get them for us. It was always the last gift my cousins and I would open… Thanks, Uncle Craig. Craig was developmentally disabled, and although he was well into his 30s when we were kids he would come out into the street and play baseball with us, he’d ride bikes across town with us, buy us beer and Playboy mags when we were older…
And yet every year, these damn gloves even when we were grown adults and his health was fading, and we all moved away. This will be Christmas number three without Uncle Craig, and as I look back at it now it makes more sense. He was living in a shack that he was renting for $350 a month there were 15 nieces and nephews… We knew he couldn’t afford to get us any toys or anything, but he wanted us to have something more meaningful than a dollar bill, and Christmas was his favorite holiday.
RIP Uncle Craig. I wish there was a poorly wrapped pair of gloves under my tree this year.
135. Not All Things Should Be Crispy
My dad and uncle tried frying a turkey, very drunkenly. They forgot about. The oil went up in flames and so did the side of my uncle’s house.
136. Game Day
My best gift was a Nintendo 64. Best part was my dad took a week off work and we non-stop played Mario 64 and Star Fox. Like basically lived on the living room floor. It was great!
137. Holy Carp
Every year on Christmas my grandparents make carp for dinner. They buy a whole one with scales and stuff. Some time before Christmas, all the scales are scraped off and dried on the heater for two or three weeks I think. They are then completely dry and do not smell. Then on Christmas, my grandparents put some money and some of those scales under everybody’s plate. They are meant to be put in your wallet. This means that you will get as much money as a fish has scales!
But, there’s a strange side effect. Sometimes, when somebody in my family pays for something, scales fall out and other people get really weirded out.
138. I’ve Got the Power
One Christmas, my ex-wife’s grandmother gave me a little electronic slot machine game that she bought at a yard sale. It still had the handwritten $1 price tag on it. When she handed it to me, her words were “Merry Christmas Ken, you’ll need to buy your own batteries for this.” My name is not Ken. And I never bought batteries for that game.
139. The War at Home
My uncle and grandfather don’t have a good relationship but were tolerating each other because it was Thanksgiving. My uncle was cooking lasagna and my grandfather decided to help, so he grated the cheese. He did this in another room because the kitchen was full of other people cooking, we have a big Thanksgiving with maybe 15 or 20 who love to eat.
I had brought in the cheese and everything was going fine. Flash forward to dinner time, the food is coming out and, as tradition dictates, we always start with lasagna. My grandfather made some joke like,” I know you hate me, but at least I’m grate,” and stuff hit the fan. My uncle literally went into a rage and was yelling at everyone because we didn’t tell him he was using “tainted” cheese.
Then he proceeded to flip the table ALL the food was on. Then my grandfather called him outside to settle the score, which resulted in two grown men fist fighting in the backyard, culminating with my grandad getting thrown into the pond we lived off of, and slicing his leg on a jagged rock that he landed on. The rest of us ordered Chinese food and kicked my uncle out.
My grandfather refused the hospital because he had a little too much “holiday joy” in him at the time. Surprising my uncle hasn’t come to holidays in years now…
140. What Time is It?
My grandfather developed Alzheimer’s when I was young. I mostly knew him as this very confused old man who thought he was still living in World War II. When I visited him, he didn’t know who the heck I was. He died when I was 10 years old. But when I was 18, I received this beautiful silver watch with my birthdate and initials engraved on it.
My parents told me that a few hours after I was born, my grandfather went out and bought it for me. He was not a rich man and spent about a month’s wages on it. My parents also passed along a handwritten letter from him, outlining his thoughts and feelings on the day of my birth. It was a wonderful, precious thing to get a sense of the real man my grandfather was before the disease took him over. And to read by his own hand that he loved me.
That watch is my favorite thing that I own.
141. Dogs Are People Too
My sister-in-law’s dog is a little person, I swear. She loves to feel included. Every Christmas, they buy her a new toy and wrap it. It’s always the same one, just a different color. The wrap it and set it under the tree. The kids open theirs first, then the adults, then Bitsy. When she realizes there’s a present for her she acts all surprised and shy, and as we encourage her, she opens it.
Like a people. First, she opens one end with her front teeth and then goes down the tape line and unfolds the paper with her little paw hands. She always loses her mind over the toy, it’s her favorite kind. They don’t buy her another one like it when it wears out until Christmas, so she freaks out. It’s so cute that it hurts my insides.
142. PJ Day
On Christmas, we wear our pajamas all day. That may seem normal on the surface, but it’s a bit funnier when you consider that my siblings and I are all grown and married with our own kids, and all 25 of us still congregate at my parents’ house for Christmas. It started out when my older brother and his wife would come over in pajamas because the rest of us still lived at home and didn’t have to change to go out.
Now it’s a tradition where we’ll do the normal shower routine, then change into our finest Christmas pajamas before heading over.
143. Oh You Beautiful Doll
I got a Barbie doll with a pink dress and brown hair. The kicker was that my father had just given my 15-year-old stepbrother a BMW the day before. I was grounded for two months because I told my dad I didn’t want the doll unless it was capable of pooping out car keys. No regrets.
144. This Dog’s Got Great Comedic Timing
My grandmother ran out of counter space and stuff was sorta burning like crazy on top of the stove. She took out the turkey on the tray, looked around, and put it on the ground for like three seconds. She intended for it to be there for three seconds. Her dog, Rosco, had been following her all day. Earlier she tossed him a turkey giblet, and I guess that didn’t sit well with him.
He defecated all over my grandma’s leg, floor, and freshly-cooked turkey in one explosive two-second blast of fiery diarrhea.
145. Sneaky Santa
Growing up I remember every Christmas Eve driving around town looking at Christmas lights then when we got home we would discover that Santa had already come. “He must have thought we were already sleeping” one of my parents would say and we would open the gifts and stay up all night playing with them essentially allowing my parents the greatest gift of all, sleeping in on Christmas Day. My sister has carried on the tradition with her children and I will do so with my son when he is a bit older.
It was Christmas morning and we’re all sitting around the tree with my family and girlfriend at the time. We are all opening presents and I open one from my girlfriend. I unwrap the box and inside I find a flat-billed baseball hat. Strange—I neither wear hats, nor give a hoot about the team whose logo was plastered on the front, let alone the sport.
So, I pull it out and hold it up so everyone [but mainly my girfriend] could see. All the adults give a quizzical look. Even my little sister makes a “huh?” face. So I say something like, “uh thanks, hun.” Her face drains of color. She says “Oops, that was for someone else, I must have brought it inside by accident.” She then snatches it out of my hands.
I hold out the card that was attached to the wrapping: Hey baby, love ya lots. Merry Christmas. She was cheating. There were tickets to some big upcoming game tucked inside the hat too. Needless to say, it was awfully embarrassing to have to essentially break up with your girlfriend in front of your family on Christmas morning via what you thought was a gift.
147. Grandma Taking Death Drops Too Far
My mother and grandmother had plans to go to a restaurant last year, but my sister convinced them to go somewhere else at the last minute. Of course, this means they had no reservations, but my sister is convinced that it’ll be fine and they might just have to wait a few minutes for a table. I live in another state, so I get to experience all of this from a distance.
They end up sitting at the bar while waiting for a table, and they have a few drinks and appetizers. After the second round of martinis, my mother looks over and my grandmother is leaning back in her chair, completely limp and unresponsive. Everyone freaks out, paramedics are called, and grandma is then rushed to the ER.
I’m 1,200 miles away when my mother calls to tell me what happened. At this point, grandma is at the ER, still unresponsive, with crazy low blood pressure and high heart rate. I’m ready to book plane tickets and rush to the airport when my mom calls back and says: “Don’t worry, everything’s OK, your grandmother just got drunk.”
Her blood test came back completely normal except for a BAC of 0.24 (3x the legal limit). She was awake now, so I got to talk to her and she was crying “I’m so sorry, I’ve ruined Thanksgiving.” I assured her that she hasn’t ruined Thanksgiving and that everyone is just happy she’s OK. So my grandma is 90 years old, about 4’8″ tall, and 100lbs.
She hadn’t eaten anything all day because she knew they were having a big dinner. She also ordered another martini while no one was looking, so the second martini was actually her third. This turned into the perfect storm of a really drunk grandma. In other words, Grandma got run over by a martini.
148. Pear-ly Strange
We have these weird pear ornaments from the fake Christmas tree my mom had growing up. On Christmas morning, whoever is at the base of the tree handing out the gifts (which devolved to always being the youngest, which is me) takes one of the pears and then hangs it from one of their ears for the entire gift giving duration.
I really don’t know why we do this… my mom’s family never did it or anything, but every year I hang that pear from my ear and I never really realized how weird that was until my cousin and his wife spent Christmas with us last year and she kept laughing at how bizarre it was.
149. Under-wear the Mistletoe
Every year, my family does a Secret Santa on Christmas. When I was about ten, my aunt had to buy me a gift. So Christmas morning, I open my gift up and find a Christmas sweater along with a pair of poop-stained women’s underwear. Apparently, my aunt was doing laundry and wrapping gifts at the same time and got the two mixed up.
150. Something Wicked This Way Comes (to Dinner)
My uncle brought a woman other than his wife. She was crazy. A practicing witch who would “divine” things about us on the spot and ironically accused my other uncle of having an affair. She got drunk and groped me in the coat closet, then tried to kiss me saying, “If only I were young again.” I was 16.
151. Meet The Hunters
I guess this is weird now that I think about it. You’re only allowed to kill male pheasants, so when you clean one you have to leave the head, a wing, or a foot attached (the roosters have a spur). My sister and I went pheasant hunting and brought some birds home when we were in high school. When my mom cooked the pheasant, she cut off the foot and stuck it on the Christmas wreath.
Now whenever my sister or I kill a new animal, we give my mom something for the wreath. We’ve got a variety of duck species, a few goose feet, a quail, a deer tail, a turkey foot, lots of feathers, a squirrel foot and tail. That reminds me, I’ve got some rabbit feet I dried in salt I need to mail her. The wreath actually looks great.
152. Caught Something on the Way Here
My aunt decided to announce she got chlamydia as we started to eat, but my grandmother had the ultimate comeback. She told her getting stuffed by random people is “for turkeys.” I laughed really hard.
153. Traditional Tree Eel
One year there was a TV program on before Christmas, something like “10 Worst Christmas Disasters.” One feature on the program was about a family who bought a Christmas tree that had been imported from Norway, and it had a snake wrapped around the trunk which went unnoticed until Christmas morning, scaring the family to death, with the mother on the TV screaming about a “Christmas tree eel.”
Now, this terrified my sister (six or seven at the time), so we decided to wrap a toy snake around the bottom of our tree. When she went to get her presents right from the back, she saw this snake and ran out in tears. Hilarious. Now every year we wrap our own Christmas tree eel around our tree and have done so for about 14 years!
154. Love Waits for No One
My mother-in-law died one September after [knowing she had] cancer for less than a year. My parents invited her widower husband to have Thanksgiving with us. He spent much of the time giddily talking about dating apps. My husband was not amused.
155. Remembering Their Roots
My in-laws fled China during the Cultural Revolution (they were supporters of Chiang Kai-Shek) and they brought nothing with them to America. It was the mom, dad, and two little girls. During their first Christmas in the USA, they were so poor they couldn’t afford presents, so the parents wrapped bricks in festive wrapping paper as “presents” and the mom painted them to resemble toy trains.
Fast forward decades and things are much better and the parents are successful and fairly wealthy. The girls are grown up and have kids of their own now. They still place those same bricks under the tree every Christmas.
156. Love is A Special Medicine
We were hosting a young lady my wife worked with, as well as her boyfriend. Halfway through dinner and somehow the discussion got to how her and her brother “once got super trashed on Robitussin, and next thing you know we… Uh… Yeah, that was really a weird time.” Everyone just got really quiet as we were trying to decide how to fill that one in and where to go with it.
For some reason, they got really quiet after that.
157. No Peeking
My sister and I live on the opposite side of the house from my parents and we have to go through the living room where the presents are to wake them up to get the thing started. For some reason when we were kids we would purposely not look at the presents under the tree until the entire family was awake and ready to start.
Really cute thing when we were kids blundering through the living room with our eyes closed. Now that I’m 20 years old and and my sister is 17 it’s mostly us walking blind through the living room stubbing our toes on furniture and cursing when we do. Past few years my parents have woken up Christmas morning with me yelling obscenities.
158. Up In Flames
My family and several other families in my Church would sometime after Christmas, gather all the Christmas trees and have a Christmas Tree Bonfire on the beach. It was perhaps the best thing ever. Until my Church was busted for throwing three trees onto the fire at once causing a huge magnificent 20ft flame to erupt. The Fire Department was called.
Our tradition pretty much ended after that.
159. Beam Me Up, Jesus
Instead of putting Mother Mary in our nativity set, we put a Seven of Nine action figure from Star Trek in her place.
160. Burn Baby Burn
I know this is the wrong holiday, but every Thanksgiving we do the “Burning of the Napkin” where my uncle lights a napkin on fire using a lit candle from the dinner table and slowly lowers it into a glass of water while the whole family sings the Super Bowl theme song. It dates back about 25 years. Apparently, this started when my aunts and uncles and my mother were children and sat at the “kid’s table” during Thanksgiving.
They would run their fingers through the flame of the candle at the table cus they were bored children, and this slowly escalated into running various items through the flame. My uncle did it with a napkin from the table and it caught fire and he quickly dunked it in a glass of water. I guess they did this every Thanksgiving since and the Super Bowl theme song got adopted at some point along the way.
161. Uncle Dennis the Menace
Every year on Thanksgiving, around an hour after everyone’s done dinner, Uncle Dennis farts in somebody’s face. We never know who he will pick.
162. Delightfully Dutch
We usually have a neighbor involved in this one… we celebrate Sinterklaas Day as well as Christmas, and this is one of our Sinterklaas traditions. On the eve of December 5, the neighbor, dressed all in black, would come to our house (unbeknownst to us… even though it happened every year) and they would viciously pound on our door, then throw it open, run into our house and throw pepernoten (small hard cookies) everywhere, and then run away.
After the initial shock wore off, we would laugh about it, then collect all the cookies into a big bowl, and snack on them for the next few weeks.
163. Oh, Poop
When I was 17 during Christmas, I had diarrhea real bad. Every time I had to fart, it was actually a poo. Well a little backstory, my dad and I have had this on-going fart war since I was little. We were both in our kitchen and I felt a fart coming up. I said in my head, “This is going to be a good one, do I risk it?” Well, I decided to send it…and this has easily been one of the worst decisions of my life.
I squeezed a little and diarrhea came out of my butt all over me and the floor. He hasn’t noticed yet and I say, “Dad, I pooed myself. “ He turns around, sees, and busts out laughing. Mom comes running in, asking what happened. Dad says, “Just want you to know that your 17-year-old son just pooed himself, grab the camera.” Merry Christmas everybody.
164. Family is What It’s All About
Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, my dad was dying of cancer. My mom was having to spend time at the hospitals or waiting for his treatments, so she got some projects to keep her occupied while waiting and worrying. She began working on a flannel patchwork quilt. Whenever I could, I would bring her a small bit of fabric to work into the quilt. Sometimes, I would get off the bus early so I could walk by a fabric store and bring her a new color.
Years passed after my dad died. Mom had put the quilt away. I thought it might remind her of all the scary, sad, and heartbreaking times she had hand sewed it through, waiting for the next awful thing to happen on my dad’s way out. I did not ever bring it up.
But, a decade later when I was having my first Christmas away from my birth family, she sent me a package to open. It was my first Christmas together with my husband. My family lived several hundred miles away and I felt sort of sad, but also very much in love. Inside the package was the quilt, completed. She had written me a note saying that she had continued to work on it after Dad died, knowing one day that it would be mine. I will keep that quilt all my life and hopefully pass it on to my grandkids someday.
165. John McCry
My mom and dad split when I was 4 years old. When they finalized the divorce, it was a week before Christmas when I was 8. My dad got custody and after Christmas dinner and stuff, he put me and my sister to bed.
An hour or so later I could hear my dad crying. I went out to hug him. He was watching Die Hard on TV. I sat and watched with him. So now every year, we watch Die Hard together.