No family is perfect, and most are harboring their fair share of mysteries and buried truths. Some of these secrets are pretty harmless, while others are dark as night. So dark, in fact, that you might wonder if they should’ve just stayed buried, never seeing the light of day. Sometimes, thorough research is necessary to discover these bombshells, and at other times, it merely involves an overly talkative relative revealing something after having indulged in excessive beverages.
But those strange family truths usually comes out in some form or another, and these Redditors were there to witness them. Here are some of the darkest, strangest and most scandalous family secrets you’ll ever hear.
1. Nothing Like A Morning Cleanse
My mom throws water on our first day of school. Like, we would walk through the door on the first day of school, and she would throw water from a cup into the lawn. She's Yugoslavian, and it's apparently a tradition from her youth. It supposedly symbolizes "cleansing you from your past". I thought it was normal until my older brother pointed out when he graduated high school that no one else does this.
I wrote that she still does this because I'm in grad school. I don't live with my parents, but my mom apparently still does it at the beginning of September even if I'm not there. I love my mom.
2. Life-Changing Friend Request
My dad knocked up a girl when he was a teenager and she gave him the ultimatum of leaving or staying. If he left she wouldn't go after him for child support, so of course, he left. The secret came out because he told my mom when they were dating 25 years ago (before I was born) that he MIGHT have a son. She didn't look into it.
My sister and I found my brother on Facebook. He looks identical to me and has a daughter. I met him a few months ago and he's awesome. We told the rest of my family and now my dad doesn't talk to any of us. My brother has a daughter so I'm an aunt and my grandma is a great-grandma.
3. A Warm Welcome Anywhere
Toilet cozies (basically, clothing for your toilet.) I grew up with them and had to change the toilet every time I cleaned our hall bathroom. In college, I was shopping with a friend about to buy my own toilet cozies, when my friend said, "Ew! WHY would you put that on your toilet? Won't it just collect germs and bacteria?!"
I thought about it for a moment and was genuinely mortified.
4. It Ain’t Easy Being Green
Every New Year, my dad buys a cabbage. It’s sort of like a this 'good luck' ritual for him to dance around the house with it and peel pieces off and place them on things for good luck. We'd all take turns dancing with it. I remember talking to a friend in elementary school about dancing with the cabbage for New Year’s and them thinking it was extremely odd.
5. Gone Fishing
My sister married a Norwegian man and moved to Oslo. We visited her last year. During the stay, her husband's family threw a birthday party for him. They tied a string to the presents and hid them under the bed. The end of the string was tied to his foot. He had to sit on the bed and kick his foot while everyone chanted "fish!"
Clearly, we were lost, and my sister explained it's a Norwegian custom. Her mother-in-law laughed and said in English for our benefit "No it's not! We're just a strange family!" My sister was shocked. "Are you kidding me?! We've done this for every birthday since I've been here!" Sometimes people are just crazy.
6. Run for Fun
Every day when we came home from school, my sister and I had to run a lap around our neighborhood. I had no idea other kids never did this and it exclusively was used to get my sister and me to burn energy, so my mom didn't have to play with us as much outside.
7. Bewitching Revelation
Found a Salem witch in the family tree. Not really a secret, just forgotten.
8. The Height of Hypocrisy
My aunt with a very "holier-than-thou" attitude has been having a 40+ year affair with a childhood sweetheart. This is a person that was always quick to criticize other people's family issues and tried so hard to present her and her family as "perfect". Her husband is a dirtbag to our family and she lets him completely get away with it. I guess we know why now.
9. Stranger Than Fiction
My great-grandfather was a quiet kind man and treasurer for his chapter of the Elks Lodge in Texas. He was accosted on his way home from an Elks Lodge meeting. He suffered amnesia and regained consciousness as a sailor on his way to Haiti. After arriving, he resided in the country for several months before engaging in a bar fight with a law enforcement officer and getting knocked out.
He regained consciousness in a confinement facility, with a new-found memory of who he was. He relayed this story to a priest from his place of confinement, who trusted him and wanted to aid him. The priest wrote my great-grandmother and the American government and somehow convinced the Haitian government to let him return to America.
He returned to my great-grandmother, had two children, and was a law abiding citizen for the rest of his life.
This story is so UNBELIEVABLE that when my mother told it to me six months ago I was convinced it was a hoax. She has documents (the letters from the priest and others) and testimonials of his friends that say this behavior was uncharacteristic. I dunno, crazy man...
10. A Kiss Called Wanda
My grandfather is part-Canadian and when we visit relatives in Nova Scotia, they make us kiss a trout.
11. Gobble Gobble at Four Angles
The Thanksgiving Turkey Box. We kids would decorate a big cardboard box, and my mom or grandmother—or the Great Turkey, for all I know—filled it up with little treats for the family. After dinner, everyone got their Thanksgiving gift. Usually, the kids got their chocolate advent calendar and a coloring book or something similar, adults got chocolates or a knick-knack. Never met another Turkey Box family. Truly strange
12. How the Mighty Have Fallen
I no longer have any aunts or uncles as a result of substance misuse. It's literally ruined my entire extended family who were mostly successful medical or education professionals. All I have is my immediate family. My aunt didn't remember which of my 3 brothers I am.
This substance is awful, kids.
13. Buried Secrets
Some of our distant relatives were buried in unmarked graves behind the original homestead.
Today, it's a condo development. There's no record of what happened to those graves.
The actual reason my uncle couldn't attend my parents' wedding was that he was incarcerated. He had the excellent idea to rob a convenience store by yelling at the cashier and throwing bananas at him. After stealing $8 he walked three doors down to a Chinese restaurant and sat down to eat. Since it was winter, the law enforcement officers simply trailed his footprints, it seems.
15. Grandpa Makes a Startling Revelation
My dad was an only child, and when he was just 3 years old, his own father was sent away for duty in the armed forces, only returning when he was 9. My dad was a painfully lonely child, neglected by his mom and raised by his grandfather. When he married my mom he suddenly had five brothers-in-law, two parents-in-law who cared about him, and dozens of aunts/uncles/cousins by marriage. He absolutely reveled in being accepted into my mom's big, strange family, but he always regretted never having a brother or sister.
Then one day I was talking to my dad's father—I think we were actually just talking about the weather when my grandpa looked away from me and started to tremble a bit. I asked him if he was okay and he very quietly said "your dad has a sister in France" and then he got up and walked away. We never spoke about it after, and to this day my dad (80 years old now) has no idea that he has a sister.
16. Cray Cray
My nan was born in East London in around the 1920s, her mother married a man with the surname 'Cray' and had her older sister before eventually re-marrying and having my Nan. My great-grandmother kept the girls' names the same, as it wasn't the 'done thing' to remarry and change names back then.
We would sometimes ask my Nan about the name and its ties to the famous gangsters and she would always say quite abruptly "No no, it's spelled with a C, not a K". Strange, as I always thought as my Nan was quite the gossip and this was very unlike her not to elaborate.
About ten years ago my dad found her birth certificate in the loft with the spelling of “Kray". The only other thing we know about her stepfather is he was run down by a taxi in New York.
I'd love to find out more information about this as it all seems very odd. A strange family secret that my nan seems to have kept even from her own family.
17. Hidden In Plain Sight
My great-grandfather had two families that lived about 200 yards from each other for about 20 years. Neither had any idea the other existed until the funeral. When the priest asked the spouse to step forward, two women did. I've been told it was quite a scene in the aftermath. I remember going to see my grandma when I was younger and being told these people were my half cousins but had no idea what that meant until I was lot older and my dad told me what had happened.
18. Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
My grandmother has all the dirty little secrets but she's too proper to spill anything. Until this one night when she told me about my grandfather's (her husband's) family. Essentially, they were poor, living off the streets and trying to earn money during Australia's gold rush.
Anyway, the family had too many kids and not enough money so they sold one of their kids to a Chinese businessman. He would've been my grandfather's great uncle I suppose. No one knew and she hasn't said boo of it since then.
19. All the Better to Fall Asleep In
On Christmas Eve, the Sandman brings us new pajamas. When we go to bed, there is a wrapped package on our bed containing pajamas, a robe, or slippers. On Christmas morning, everyone is wearing their new pajamas.
20. Alternative Hymns
We listen to "It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta" by Geto Boys on Thanksgiving as our alternative to saying grace. My dad likes it, I have no idea when this tradition started.
21. Make That Duolingo Count
We sing happy birthday in Polish.
We do not speak Polish.
22. Gone But Not Forgotten
There was a child born on an isolated farm during the Great Depression. She was born at home with no midwife or doctor in attendance. The parents never registered a birth certificate with the county for her. She got very sick with a high fever as a young child (3-4 years old), and there was no money for a doctor, no phone to call anybody, no car to drive her into town, and no neighbors near enough to go ask for help.
The family treated her as best as they could, but she departed from this world after a couple of days. She was buried on the family land with no official grave marker. Since her birth was never registered, the same occurred with her passing. Nobody knew about her life and ultimate demise except for the immediate family. None of the (now very elderly) surviving siblings remember exactly where she was buried on the property. Simply known as Violet, she was an exceptionally beautiful blonde child who was completely healthy, but tragically, her health deteriorated rapidly within just a few days.
At this point, some extended family members doubt the story, but I remember my mom insisting that Violet was real and is buried somewhere on that piece of land.
23. True Darkness
My dad still owns a bunch of Beanie Babies and is convinced the market for them will come back around.
24. High Time He Explained Himself
Ages ago I arranged a meeting with the local dope dealer through an acquaintance and surprise surprise, it was my dad. Needless to say, major questions were asked on both sides.
My god, the look on our faces must've been priceless!
25. Witching Hour
When I was 13 years old, I was initiated into the family witchcraft tradition. The biggest shock was running into two classmates at a Sabbat (Pagan holiday).
26. Art in Life, Life in Art
Every Groundhog Day, we go and get small gifts for each other for a dollar or less. Then we eat flapjacks and watch Groundhog Day.
For as long as I can remember my mom has buttered my nose on my birthday. I have no idea where this tradition originated. She's also been so kind as to carry this over to my significant others. I’ve gotten wise to her and the sneaky way she tries to carry butter in her hand without me noticing, but then she gets me tipsy and I let my guard down and BAM! Butter nose.
Basically, my mom is a huge dork.
28. Always Aim Higher
We would jump at midnight on New Year’s to get taller. The irony being I am a 5'6” tall (on a good day) guy, my mom is a 4'10" tall woman, dad and brother are 5'8” and 5'9” tall or so. Clearly, this tradition does not work.
29. Don’t Hop on Pop
My Dad is narcoleptic. Every year when he inevitably passes out at the table during Thanksgiving dinner my sisters & I play our favorite game, called "What can we balance on Dad's head?"
So far, our most impressive item is a coffee mug. I'm fairly proud of that one.
30. Machiavellian Grandma
My step great-grandmother caused the demise of my biological great-grandmother and great-grandfather. She ended my biological great-grandmother's life by pushing her from a building during a rooftop party back in the '20s; everyone assumed she wasn't in her right senses. She wanted my great-grandfather because he was wealthy at the time. He lost almost everything in the stock market crash, and when they realized they wouldn't recover, she left him for a man who was still wealthy (my step-great grandfather). Poisoned my real great-grandfather. She admitted all this to my mother on her deathbed. Grandma Velma was a psycho.
31. Scottish Scoundrel
This story has been told to me by numerous family members. I've tried verifying it but so far I haven't been able to. Anyway, here it goes...
My ancestor lived in Scotland, belonged to a noble family. The family had a castle and were, as you'd expect when you own a castle, incredibly wealthy. For old mate ancestor, this wasn't enough. One day his brother was out exploring the lands, doing whatever you did in 18th century Scotland. His brother’s wife remained in the castle while her husband was away.
Old mate ancestor decides to get things started with his sister-in-law. His brother comes home, discovers his brother in bed with his wife and is outraged. He immediately calls a family meeting to discuss this.
As old mate ancestor has disgraced the family, it's decided that he should be exiled to Australia, never to set foot in the family castle ever again. Off he goes, given a fair whack of cash to ensure he can find his feet in Australia.
Several generations pass (the stories from family are always quite vague about how many...) and here I am today, with the story still told at countless family gatherings…
32. What a Load
All this time my family thought that my weird Hungarian last name meant "boat builder". Well, recently we were enlightened to learn that the closest meaning is actually "man who goes around the village at night and picks up the toilet buckets from doorsteps".
33. Grandma the Bootlegger
When I was growing up, I always heard stories about my dad as a kid hanging out in his mom's tavern. The first time we visited his home town, he showed us his house, which is on a crossroads and split-level: front door goes to the top floor, "basement" (or lower floor) opens out the back, which then has a small road and parking area to the tavern.
It wasn't until many years later that it dawned on me that my dad grew up during Prohibition and my grandma was a bootlegger. Mom has forbidden me from digging into it any further.
34. Fooling Nobody
My sister impersonated me when she was taken into custody. Joke's on her, she paid the fine and when it was discovered that they didn’t follow proper procedure, they refunded the fine to me! Karma…
35. Brother’s Keeper
My uncle fathered a child with a woman and subsequently found himself in a correctional facility. While he was incarcerated, his brother (my other uncle) ultimately married the girl and raised the child as his own. Now my first uncle has been released from confinement, and must confront the reality that his child is being raised by his brother. It's awwwk-ward.
36. Fatherly Reappearance
My Bio dad showed up last summer. 27 years of never having contact with me, and he comes out of nowhere. Turned out he just wanted me as a bone marrow/kidney donor for his other son. I agreed to be checked if I was match. I'm not going to blame the 10-year-old kid for his father being a competitor for biggest jerk, but my family and I don't talk about it. I went behind my mother's back to talk him in the first place after he showed up.
37. My Sister, the Thief
That time my sister obtained thousands of dollars from my father's business inappropriately while working there.
38. Alcoholism in the Family
A lot of people in my family are alcoholics. It's okay to acknowledge their heavy consumption, but it's not okay to label them as dependent, even when they do things like repeatedly fainting on their front lawn, collecting numerous driving offenses, getting so much Labatt merchandise that the company sends them a flag and a lawn chair, getting dismissed from Fabricland for belligerently shouting at customers then regurgitating on a quilt, or getting stopped on a motorized cooler by the RCMP. All those incidents can be discussed so long as no one mentions alcoholism.
39. Mother's Explicit Photos
It was Thanksgiving. My parents had recently returned from Hawaii. My dad wanted to show everyone the photos. He connected the digital camera to the giant flat screen TV and started up a slide show. Of my mother. Unclothed. In their bedroom. He scrolled through several and then quickly turned it off and said “whoops. Wrong cartridge!”
I was 21, and my boyfriend was with me for the holidays for the first time. My mom started crying. My boyfriend went silent. I just said “oh my god!” Somehow my 100 year old grandma missed the whole thing. We never speak of it. If it is brought up, my mother will yell “WE SWORE TO NEVER MENTION THAT!” And get red faced.
Hey y’all, my mom would be mortified that I told the internet. Let’s all agree to never mention it to her!
40. Underestimating Family Awareness
I believed that my aunt was heavily involved in substance misuse. Turns out nobody knew. To be fair, I didn't "know" per-se, but it was so obvious that I thought everybody knew but didn't mention it. My family was blown away when she got busted going to Florida to buy pills so she could resell them here. I was like, "yeah, duh".
41. Pro-Choice in Practice
That super pro-life cousins and aunt ran to get an abortion for my 16-year-old cousin when she got pregnant.
42. Do Not Mention the Parrot
The parrot from Hawaii. When I was in kindergarten, my family took a trip to Honolulu. While there, a man on the street asked if we wanted photos with his parrots. My sisters and I were jazzed up about it, so my parents said ok.
The man had each of us holding a parrot, or a parrot sitting on our shoulder as my mom snaps some pics. Then the man asked my dad to kiss the parrot. My dad was not about this. He was not going to kiss the parrot, but to make my family happy and to get away from parrot-man, he did. And that’s when the parrot chomped his lip. Blood and everything.
To this day, over 10 years later, mention of the parrot will incite a 20-minute rant from my dad regarding parrot negligence, and then he gets so mad he has to go fix something in the garage. Do not. Bring up. The parrot.
43. Replacing References to Self-harm
The numerous suicides. It's ultimately reaching the point where they recognize these individuals once had existence, let alone met their end. One of my great uncles took his own life before I came into this world, and if it weren't for all the family portraits and my great aunt's kindness, I would never have learned his name. My mom likes to imagine they met their end in "car accidents" or "heart attacks".It made for some real confusion once I got older.
44. That Time in the Park
My wedding day. It was a 6-month marriage to an emotionally abusive woman that ended with infidelity, depression, and homelessness. I'm totally fine now, but I don't ever mention it. So no one else does. My grandpa has brought the wedding up a couple of times for necessary reasons, but refers to it as, "that time we met you in the park".
45. Dad’s History
Our father deceived our family about every detail: his upbringing, residence, service background, extended relations and employment. We discovered it after his passing and never mentioned it again. It's been 10 years since his departure.
46. Alzheimer Difficulties
My grandfather remarried a woman who almost immediately developed Alzheimer's and forgot who he is. He is now dating his first wife, while his actual wife is confused who anyone is. He refuses to divorce because the terrible family of his second wife bailed when they saw how expensive she was going to be, and my family had to get her care because she was too much for my grandfather to take care of (he is almost 90). I called out the relevant members of her family for bailing and was told I was being rude, which might be true, but I'm also darn right.
47. Doing the Right Thing
That my grandfather (on my dad's side) was the only one to accept my oldest brother when he came into the picture. My dad married my mom when my brother was 3, long before I came along, and everyone looked at him like a nobody and told my dad that my mother was a loose woman.
48. Ignoring the Eating Disorder
My sister's eating disorder. She eats a ton and goes on to vomit. She goes jogging for one hour or more per day (every day, no breaks even though her knees hurt like crazy) and refuses to eat any carbs, fruits and vegetables only. I seem to be the only one who realizes the magnitude of this. I seem to be the only one who thinks of this as a sickness, not as a "temporary phase".
It's been like this for 3 years already, and I have no idea when my parents noticed. Whenever I say something I get "shushed" at and later have to justify my "insensitive behavior" in front of my parents. So I just kind of gave up on arguing. Not sure what I can do to change things without disrupting the family.
49. Avoiding Harm
My dad selling off his Enron stock before the scandal broke and the company collapsed. He grew tired of everyone remarking, "Seems like you narrowly escaped trouble there," so currently, we all just remain silent about his fortunate timing.
50. Ignoring the Divorce for the Sake of the Relationship
A slightly happier story than most here: a few years ago, my sister and I reconnected after not seeing each other for 10+ years. The split was due to our parents' divorce being an absolute disaster. Neither of us has any desire to reboot what wasn't our fight to begin with, so we just don't bring it up.
51. Merry Christmas
One of many is Christmas two years ago when my brother cried in front of us for the first time in his adult life, and then my dad started yelling at him over politics and my sister and I hid in the bathroom because we started crying too. When I came out, my dad started yelling at me, saying I had no heart. Then we had to open presents.
My grandfather had 4 different families at the same time. Eventually, they found about each other and they left him. Except for my grandmother, she stayed. He has a total of 22 children.
53. Wanted Man
My mom's cousin's husband (I forget the term for this) has twice been on the FBI's top ten most wanted list.
54. Cowardice Was Key
My great-great-great something was involved in a raid against Natives during the time of Western expansion and had his horse shot out from under him. He slit its belly open, gutted it, and hid inside until the remainder of his party was eliminated, leaving him alone. If my ancestors weren't such cowards, I wouldn't exist.
55. I Challenge You To A Duel
I found out that one of my ancestors was exiled from Russia for challenging an army officer to a duel (with swords) and winning. My ancestor worked in the czar's stable, and the argument arose when the army officer insisted on riding my ancestor's horse. The horse threw him off and the army officer shot it.
We've always been horse people.
56. The Hidden Kin
Found out through an angry vent given by my mother, that most of my cousins aren't legitimate, and most of my aunts had lied to their husbands about the true father of their children. Also found out that there was a very large niche of the family I had never met and that no one really admits to—because they're all inbred.
57. Violent Ends
My cousin is very serious about his genealogy hobby. He finds relatives we didn't know existed and jets out to meet them, exchanging stories, tintypes, and the like. Back in 2007, during a visit to relatives in Iowa, he came across the sad revelation that our ancestor had tragically taken his own life while aboard a U.P. Train, around six miles west of Kearney, Nebraska.
I have a transcribed account of the December 1881 newspaper story, which was unnervingly detailed. The headline reads, “THE SAD ENDING OF JIM HARRIS". It is a very spooky, interesting read.
58. A Little Too Close To Home
We had a family Christmas dinner a few years ago where my aunt and uncles from both sides were staying over at our house. There were probably 10 or 11 of us at the dinner table, and everyone is getting along well like we always do. My cousin, around 14 or 15 at the time, brings up something about how he laid a massive poop earlier that day.
The kids laugh and the adults were like "That's not table conversation". Then I jump in and say "Haha, yeah, there are things we don't talk at the dinner table, like politics and illegitimate children". Every adult at the table drops their eyes to their plate and goes silent. I'm sitting there like “uhhhh,” what in the Woody Allen movie is so awkward about all this.
What I didn't know is that my uncle had an illegitimate child many years ago and that's always been a point of contention between my aunt and him. They also had been arguing about that earlier in the day, and all the adults knew it. Haha man, it was a joke. But seriously though, never make jokes about illegitimate children unless you are absolutely sure no one has one.
59. Drinking Discreetly
My grandmother just confessed to me last week that she was a borderline alcoholic and at age 50 started going to AA by herself—at the synagogue so she wouldn't run into her Catholic friends—and quit drinking then. No one even noticed because she had hidden her drinking so well from her husband and five children. She didn't tell her husband for almost 30 years and he was shocked. My mom, dad, and brother all don't know yet.
60. Funny Stuff
Great grandma had an affair with a clown. An actual clown. And there was some question as to whether my grandpa was the son of said clown.
61. Grandpa Was A Bootlegger
My grandfather and his brothers were apprehended during Prohibition for producing and circulating illicit spirits as part of a significant covert operation. I discovered this while doing a school project at the library in high school which gave me access to old newspaper archives. I obviously searched for my last name. The first hit matched my grandfather and his siblings.
62. Grandma's Ganja Operation
My grandma runs a marijuana ring in her small town. She's about 75 and lives in the rural US. She doesn't need to deal with cartels or anything because she grows it all on her own on her property. As far as I know, there aren't any rival organizations in town.
63. Unholy Destruction
My ancestors were kicked out of a town in Kentucky for blowing up a church because they had a distillery underneath it.
64. Delayed Consequences
My grandfather succumbed to cancer in the '70s, but no one ever informed me about him. Anyway, I was interested one day so I looked up him up and it turned out he was in the army—the British commandos, to be exact (he was Welsh). I conducted additional research to determine if any members of his squad were still alive, but sadly, all of them had succumbed, primarily from cancer. Eventually I decided to confront my gran and sure enough, there were the photos of him in a specific Japanese city after the atom hit.
65. Great Grandpa Got Around
My great-grandpa left China for Hawaii and accumulated his wealth through illicit trafficking and air-dropping contraband into the ocean. He managed to start two families here without either knowing about the other.
66. Well That Escalated Quickly
I found out my "uncle" is actually my cousin. My aunt got pregnant at 15 so my grandma raised him as her own.
Also, the more extreme one. Apparently, my great great (lots more greats) uncle was captured by Native Americans. So in order to escape, he managed to get his hands on one of their babies and threw it in a fire as a distraction.
67. Way to Leave Us Hanging
A long time ago, back when I was still in middle school, we lost my mom's best friend. She wouldn't tell me how her life ended. Only that it was sudden. When I asked why we weren't going to the funeral she told me that there wouldn't be one because "her body was being donated to science".
I didn't ask any more questions. That was the last time we ever talked about her.
Well, five months ago my mom gave me her phone to find the number for Domino's and as I'm scrolling through her contacts I come across the phone number of the best friend who is no longer with us. Most astonishing moment of my life. The next day I called it from a pay phone at Waffle House and she picked up. I instantly recognized the voice and accent. She's still alive. Second most astonishing moment of my life.
68. Granddad’s License To Kill
Granddad was a professional murderer for the Brits. It got my family out of the old country after WWII, but it estranged our branch from the whole family for 80 years and counting.
He turned out to be truly dreadful - abusive, heavily inebriated, and a terrible father. But he is the reason we live in here now, and didn't spend three generations under the Soviets. He departed this life the same month I was born, so I never met him, but I've spent five years compiling family stories and writing a book about our weird folks.
69. Still In The Picture
One of my cousins abruptly departed after he discreetly took a substantial amount of money from the safe at the family business.
Only my grandmother and I know that he moved to the UK, where he works as a mechanic or something. How he moved there we don't know, but he regularly calls my grandmother to talk to her. Even sent some money back.
70. Hoffa Was Here
My grandpa was a big dude. Roughly 6'6" tall and 300lbs. He was a very close friend, confidant, and bodyguard for Jimmy Hoffa. For many reasons, my grandma finally was able to convince—read: force—my grandpa to leave the Teamsters, the lifestyle, and move to northern Michigan.
It's not really a secret at all in my family but rather something that no one really talks about. Everyone knows Grandpa was very close to Hoffa, there just isn't a lot of details.
71. Roast In Every Sense of the Word
We have a family roast every Sunday, but it is much more than just the food we eat. Generally, it ends up much like a celebrity roast where one member of the family gets ridiculed and has hilarious (embellished) stories told about them for then hour while everyone else laughs.
It's always in good humor and my mum is usually on the receiving end every second week, but when I can’t go, the week feels like it's missing something without the joyous 6 PM Sunday banter.
72. The Sacrificial (and High-Fat) Lamb
For Easter dinner, my aunt and uncle would always buy a stick of butter molded into the shape of a lamb. Before we ate, it was my job to chop its head off.
73. The Family Coat of Arms
My husband's family swaps armaments annually for Christmas. Knives, swords, guns: if it's deadly, it'll end up as a gift.
My first Christmas with them, I was terrified. I'd only been dating him for about six months and he was opening up a giant box of knives in front of me. And so was his brother. And they were passing the knives around the room like it wasn't dangerous.
I got used to it after a few years. The joke became that I wasn't one of them until I got something sharp and dangerous for Christmas.
This last Christmas was my first as an official member of the family. They had me unwrap the initial present, which turned out to be a charming little spring-assisted pocket tool. My very first weapon.
It was their way of welcoming me into the family.
74. Dads Do Take Sick Days
My dad pretends to be sick and we all just go along with it and cancel our plans.
75. You must pay the required fee.
When I was in high school, we had a kitchen mischief-maker. It was a miniature creature statuette that we would conceal in the kitchen. If you discovered the creature, you had to conceal it again. We got pretty creative.
76. Having a Gas
Whenever anyone in the family is sad (me, my mother, or my sister), my dad will drop whatever he is doing and take us for a drive. He'll drive for as long as it takes for us to feel better. Doesn't matter if he's in a deep sleep, working, or eating dinner. He'll drop it without a second's thought.
77. All About “You”
We skip 99.9% of the “Birthday Song” at parties and get right to the best part, "YOUUUUUUUU!" No joke. Mom lights the candle, everyone holds their arms out toward the birthday boy/girl and we all sing "YOUUU" and then the candle gets blown out.
I thought it was corny at first, but it cuts to the point, saves shy singers any embarrassment, and we get to the cake sooner.
78. Our Own Private Getaway
My sister and I were never close growing up but we both shared a common goal, which was to open a Christmas present early. For the record, I think she was about 10 years old and I was about 8. We made up a fake holiday on December 17.
It was to celebrate the people who make socks in the winter to keep our feet warm. We made a few fake holiday cards, we wrote a song, and we did some stupid dance with it to convince our parents to let us open a present before Christmas in honor of our new "holiday". They said they were so impressed that we worked so hard together as a team just to open a gift that they decided to let us. We celebrated this stupid holiday every year with an early present. My family still gets my sister and I presents every year for this, and we are almost 30.
79. An Elephant Never Invests
We have lucky elephant statues throughout the house. Each one has a dollar bill wrapped around the upwards facing trunk. My grandmother insists that this is a Puerto Rican tradition that brings prosperity and good luck. However, the elephant cannot face the windows or doors because it signifies money leaving the home.
80. You Can Count on Silence
We always have a massive argument at Christmas and don’t speak for six months.
81. Sandwiched in the Annals of History
We end phone calls and emails with the phrase "Ham and jam". Dad studies the history of armed forces.
Operation Deadstick was the British glider-borne assault of the Orne and Caen canal bridges, more commonly known as “Pegasus Bridge". During the real operation, the Commander was issued with two codewords to be radioed back to England to report the outcome.
The capture of the Caen canal bridge (Pegasus) was codenamed “Ham” and the Orne canal bridge (Horsa) was codenamed “Jam". When both bridges were captured the message was sent back to England—“Ham and Jam”.
Every conversation is the preservation of small but important bridges between us.
82. Step into These Treats
Yes! My family has its own holiday called Squirrel of the Night. It's celebrated yearly on March 9. If you leave your shoes outside your bedroom door the night before the Squirrel of the Night will come and fill them with nuts and candy. This is allegedly to thank my mother for her service to Sciuridae-kind because she rescued a chipmunk once when she was little. We've celebrated yearly since I was a baby.
I'm pretty sure my parents came up with the idea one day while stoned.
83. Can You Ever Be Too Blessed?
We say “God bless you” to any bodily noise, not just a sneeze. I've done this to my friends too and they just look at me like I have two heads.
84. Mystery Father
My grandmother came home from a business trip pregnant. That child is my mother, but she was raised entirely by the man my grandmother married. We are unsure about the identity of the biological father since grandma left us without revealing his name.
85. Battle for Your Eardrums
My family enjoys Jeff Wayne's Musical Adaptation of The Worlds' Confrontation album on Christmas morning.
Usually, my dad and I are first up, so we play it really loudly to wake my brothers up.
It's my favorite bit of Christmas.
86. Off With Their Heads
Supposedly my family picked the wrong side in the French Revolution and sided with the French royalty and had to flee to England after some of them lost their heads. Money buys favor, and they were given land in Scotland by the crown.
All was well and good ‘till they ticked off the church. Some of them lost their heads and had to flee to Canada. Now we wait to tick off the Canadian government and see who loses their heads and where we have to go next. My grandfather possesses a French family crest and an English coat of arms garment that no one wishes to discuss. I only discovered them when assisting him with his move following my grandmother's passing.
87. Mysterious Inheritance
My grandma inherited several hundred thousand dollars from her stepdad.
The intriguing aspect is that to this day, no one knows how he acquired it. Until his final moments, no one even knew he had that kind of wealth. Since I hail from the South, my theory leans towards the unofficial transportation of alcoholic beverages or something similar, yet the truth remains uncertain and we probably never will.
88. A Real Man Always Comes Seasoned
Not so much a tradition, but my dad really has this thing for cayenne and a container of it would always be on the table. He would put a little bit on almost everything. I also really like it and do the same thing but apparently having a cayenne shaker on your table is weird. I found out when I was at a friend’s and asked for it and they were very confused and went and got it off the spice rack.
89. Our Own Private Feed
The family newsletter.
My uncle ran a family newsletter, people wrote in and contributed articles, recipes, etc. He snail mailed a copy to the extended family—we’re a very large family—every month.
The only other person I ever met that had a family newsletter is my wife.
90. Familial Fascism
Me: "I went to Rome this summer!"
Grandpa: "That's great! I was in Rome once".
Me: "What did you see when you went?"
Grandpa: "Oh you know... I just marched where they told me to march".
Hint: he's not American.
91. Famous Last Words
My kids are grown, and we live in different parts of the country.
Whenever one of us gets on a plane, we call each other and say, "I regret nothing".
Creepy, but fun.
92. Beast Wars
A little over a decade ago my mother found an old high school art project while packing up boxes in preparation to leave my childhood home. This piece of "art" was terrible. It was a hand-sculpted toothbrush holder. Basically, a large green cup, but with the top of it being a huge wide-open mouth, with big nasty teeth and a tongue spilling out well over the side of it. It was colored and fired in a kiln. It will now be solely referred to as "The Beast".
My mother is very nostalgic and hates to throw things of this nature away. So she gave it to my sister, who was already married and moved out. This is where the fun begins. My sister (Emily) denies it was her that made something that ugly and says it was my brother. My mom tells her to give it to him then. But, when Emily tries to give the wretched spawn that is the Beast to my brother (Merrick) he also denies fathering such an abomination.
This accelerates rapidly, extremely rapidly into a complete conflict. Emily and Merrick spend the next ten years finding new and creative ways to sneak the object into each others’ homes and hide it. Because if the other person doesn't even know it is in their house, it clearly will not be in yours. But if you have hidden it on the other, you are always wondering, "Have they found it yet?!" or "Is it in my house?"
Finally, the conflict concludes when my Merrick approaches me seeking assistance. You see, I was doing some construction work in my sister’s house. He looks at me with intensity and camaraderie that only a brotherhood can produce, "Hide it somewhere she will NEVER find it!". I just nod reassuringly and take the Beast home with me.
The next month I am making and installing custom cabinetry in my sister’s master closet. And I get the idea. There is a larger piece that I made to go floor to ceiling, to hold all her jewelry and a mirror with a chest of drawers below it. I cut a hole in the wall, wedged The Beast between two framing studs, and sealed its tomb as I meticulously glued, screwed, and nailed it into the wall. I took pictures of the entire act, as per Merrick's request, and he slowly started leaving hints to my sister that she might want to take a look around her house for it.
Finally, at Christmas, Merrick made a hand-drawn sketch of the Beast with the words "You are not alone" wrapped it up and gave it to her on Christmas morning. Emily spent a year looking for it, the next Christmas he gave her the pictures of it being sealed into the very framework of her house. It was beautiful. Game over... or is it...
Fast forward to last year, my mother walks up to me at Christmas time, the entire family in the living room. She says, "Close your eyes and hold out your hands," I comply. She places something in my hand, the texture is very familiar, but the shape is foreign. "Open your eyes"., she says. I look down. In my hands is another piece of handcrafted "art" colored and kilned, and it is actually, somehow, uglier than The Beast".
WHAT IS THIS!" I yell. She smiles and just says, "Flip it over".. I do, and on the back engraved into the very clay that formed it, is my name, age, and the date it was made. There was a moment of silence in the house, and everyone knew. The years of peace and comfort had come to an end. The nights of being able to lay your head on your pillow and know you were alone, and your family was safe from It, oh but a distant memory.
A new conflict had commenced...
93. 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.
94. Kevin McCallister Is All Grown Up and Had Kids, I See
We were never under the impression that others did this, but I have to share it as I think it was a wonderful thing my parents did.
Imagine your younger years. Santa Claus is alive and well, and all you can think about is what toy you're getting for Christmas.
My parents had a deal with Santa.
He'd give us good presents, but we had to earn them even if we had been good. How did we earn them? My parents would booby-trap the house. Nothing lethal or harmful, of course. But we had to make it through them without awakening our parents—we never succeeded. From trip wires to scarecrows in hallways; nuts on the floor to make you slip, doors tied together—even the circuit breakers were turned off so there were no lights. My parents went all-out. About two weeks before Christmas, all the flashlights and bladed objects—scissors, pocketknives, etc.—mysteriously disappeared from the house.
The best one was the one year I was in the lead—I had three siblings—and was nearly to the den where the presents awaited.
I spotted a tripwire across the doorway. Thinking myself clever, I moved in and snipped it with the scissors I had stashed earlier that month. This...was a mistake. I look up just in time to see an old Halloween decoration flying straight at my face—a big, hairy spider. Oh, how I screamed. To this day, my dad won't let me forget it. I woke the whole house up, my dad was rolling on the floor with laughter, and I was traumatized for life.
95. Use Your Head
Every Easter egg me or my sister have ever eaten has been broken open on our heads. I only found out this was strange when I went to university and three of my flatmates stared at me as I placed a chocolate egg on the table, then slammed my forehead into it.
96. We Didn't See That Coming
We discovered a photograph of our two great-aunts arm in arm with a notable historical figure from WWII. We also have a signed photograph of Mussolini.
97. Broken Promises
That my great-great-great-grandpa left England for America and was supposed to send money for them to come over, but he never did. He just started a new family in America.
98. Unlikely Prankster
Not exactly 'dark,' but after we lost my grandpa, we were going through his stuff and found an old letter. My white, very Christian, very conservative grandpa had gotten kicked out of college for organizing a panty raid and somehow no one ever knew.
Of course, we framed the letter and it's now hanging on the wall of my grandma's house
99. Childhood Innocence
My favorite uncle cheated on my auntie. Ended up knocking the woman up. She had the child and my uncle was forced to tell my aunt. Aunt divorced my uncle. He became an alcoholic and I had absolutely no idea.
I thought all the times we were going for car rides as a kid, he purposely drove crazy because it was entertaining for me and my cousins but it turned out he was just plastered.
100. Grandma Spills The Beans
My father had an affair with his brother's wife so my cousin is also my brother.
My cousin is unaware, as grandma inadvertently revealed this while intoxicated.
101. First is the Worst
I have a twin sister who was born two minutes before me. She calls me every year two minutes before I was born, at like 8:09 in the morning.
When we reached the age of 21, she roused me from sleep and lawfully guzzled an alcoholic beverage just two minutes prior to my birth.