Holiday horror stories of dysfunction and kookiness

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Maysie Maysie's picture
Holiday horror stories of dysfunction and kookiness

Okay, we're in the middle of the holiday season, but past the worst of it (for me anyways).

I would love to hear some babbler holiday horror stories. From this year, past years, or classic stories told by the fireplace to warn children about the dangers of mixing family, alcohol, consumerism, Santa, and inflated emotional expectations.

Woohoo! I'll start!

I went to New Jersey for a few days for the weekend of Dec 16. Long story, but my sister got married in LA in the spring and is applying for her green card and couldn't cross the border this month without putting her process in jeopardy. Her in-laws are in New Jersey and she's gone to visit them for all the years that she dated her now-husband. My mom and I had never been, but decided to go. I wanted to see my sister, because who the hell knows when she'll be able to visit Canada and I'm not going to be in LA for a while. The Xmas factor was irrelevant to me. But it seems I live in Maysie-bizarro world.

My sis's MIL is Xmas on crack, personified. My sis's FIL is Jewish, but has clearly gone along with all the Xmas stuff over the years. I'm talking Santa oven mitts; tiny unlit Santa candles in Santa candle holders; a salt and pepper shaker that is a chimney with two stacks, sticking out of the chimney are Santa's black boots, one for salt, one for pepper; Xmas themed dish towels (I never thought people actually bought that stuff); a stuffed reindeer that when you press its toes, it wiggles and sings "Jingle Bell Rock" the most detestable Xmas song EVER, and two other stuffed creatures that when you press something on them they sing some putrid song (if you must know, a mouse in an Xmas outfit singing "We Wish You A Merry Xmas" in a Chipmunks voice, and a snowman that sang something I guess I blocked out from memory. No wait, it was the fa la la song. It sounded demonic, and not in a good way), and finally, the pièce de résistance, a red stocking with white around the edge used in the guest bathroom to hold extra rolls of toilet paper. 

One's eyes were barraged with either all these Xmas obscenities (the more I looked around the more I saw that not one part of their huge kitchen/living room/tv room had been untouched) or the GIANT flat screen tv upon which my sister's husband and his brother were playing "shoot 'em, kill 'em video games.

Then the mom factor. I love my mom. But her "mom-kookiness" always gets activated around Xmas for some ungodly reason. My mom is Jewish, but that hasn't stopped her. So various hyper and age-inappropriate mom-behaviours ensued including, before we headed out somewhere, asking me if I needed to pee. My response was "I'm 44 years old."

And my sis's MIL, who is a lovely woman, having both her boys home, got all activated as well, telling them things like "Put your socks and underwear in the laundry hamper! Make your beds!" and things like that. 

The two of them, together? It was a mom-hurricane. Everyone stayed out of their way, and for the most part, did what they were told.

In the middle of this, my sister's BIL was lectured by his mom and his aunt (his mom's sister) about moving out, saving money, and being a respectable citizen. He's 25. And launched into his own piece about his father and how nothing is good enough for him no matter how hard he tries. 

I found it best to hide in the t.v.-less den with their ancient corgie (named Puppy. So cute!) and read an old book about travel written by Dave Barry until the worst was over.

This is the place where I had my first taste of Jamesons. So at least something good came of the experience. Laughing

Okay, who wants to share next?


Oh dear, maysie! I can't top that, but that sure was fun to read! Mine was the usual barrage of loud voices all trying to compete with one another while my little cousin decides he needs to play with his brand-new boxing gloves and punch bag right away, in the middle of the floor, while two huge dogs saunter around. It was loud and stressful, but the food was good! :)


I thought I had seen the worst kids' gifts in past years with annoying noisy and dangerous toys.

This Christmas we got two new contenders for first place:

First - A box of brick, animal, and people moulds, with plastic bags of coloured sand held together by mineral oil.

Yes, that's right. A relative dumped a grain shovel full of oily sand in the middle of our living room for the kids to play with. I spent all day finding sealable plastic containers to hold the different colours, now I have to go out and buy a low plastic bin to serve as a sand table because the packaged the stuff in a cardboard box, without even a plastic liner. Even so, it still winds up all over the floor. I also have to find a place to keep it, because in their room, where their beds and clothes are is out of the question.

And it's from Sweden of all places. I thought Scandinavia was on the cutting edge of kids' toys. Perhaps they have just been lulling us into a false sense of trust.

Second toy - two balls at the end of meter-long ropes for spinning around your head. Great present for outside in summer. Indoors next to the Christmas tree.... not so great.

Oh.... and we got some sort of chemical air freshener which which the kids seem to love (because it has a little pyramid which lights up) but which burns my nose. Who the hell gives a gift that says "your house stinks" anyway? Fortunately it runs on batteries, and whatever toxins are in it will wear out (or perhaps I can get creative and substitute some essential oils).

Those mis-reads aside, it has actually been a good christmas. Fortunately we stayed home. Though believe it or not I am actually a bit relieved to be getting back to work today - even if it is bookwork.


Cueball Cueball's picture

Everything went fine.

I got a book on Blackwater. Also the "Wages of Destruction" by Tooze, and a book on the Potempkin mutiny.

Maysie Maysie's picture

@jrose. I'm glad my misery entertained you. Tongue out And the food was good, but this isn't a happy-holiday-story thread now is it?

@Smith. I literally laughed out loud at your description of the sand fiasco and the balls-on-rope-destructo toy. So your misery entertained me. I guess that's all we can hope for.

@Cueball. If you're not going to stay on topic then keep the hell out of this thread. "Everything went fine".  Sheesh. 


@ Maysie

You're welcome. And of course misery is the source of all comedy.

For what it's worth, if I were more of a mercenary I might consider moving to Fort MacMurray and starting up my own oily sand kid's toy cottage industry.

(I tried to find that old SNL skit about using plastic bags as space masks and other deadly kid's toys, but it's not on youtube)

At least we haven't heard any jail stories yet, though I have heard two totaled car stories already.

...and at least the spinning ball toys aren't made to be set on fire.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Maysie, sounds like you needed that Jameson's!

6079 Smith W - My kids are older than yours, and although we never got greasy sand, the number of completely inappropriate toys we've gotten from otherwise sane and responsible adults over the years is mindboggling.  This year we got an ant farm!  Whee!  Bugs in the house!

Mostly we had the usual crazy.  Christmas eve saw my MIL ask my 13 yr old if the snack crackers she was eating were fattening (kid is chunky around the middle at the moment and kind of sensitive about it - she's at that point of puberty where they put on a bit of weight in prep for that major growth spurt, but she is by no means overweight.   She's grown 1/2 inch in the past 2 mos and will likely slim out and streak up over the next year) and was all injured innocence when the blond guy took her aside and told her to knock it off. 

My niece gave me a cement stepping stone she painted herself, which is nice - except that the paint isn't weather-proof, so she'd prefer I not keep it outside.  Where the fuck does one put a stepping stone in the house?!

My SIL from Vancouver, who no longer speaks on the phone because it's oppressive to expect her to, sent us a very bad, very old, very musty Christmas joke book.  I suppose it's the thought that counts.  I'd love to thank her, but I'm afraid of oppressing her by ringing her up.

My mother was aggressively cheery and helpful - this is probably because she told me off in July, questioning my mental health, the state of my marriage and suggested I was having a midlife crisis because I don't spend more time "as a family" at her place, where she lives with my niece, niece's (very nice and deluded) boyfriend and their infant daughter, a palace of co-dependency and chronic depression, where most practical questions are answered only with showers of tears.  I think the message was "See how much fun we're having?  As a FAMILY?"  I had to chase her out of my very small kitchen twice, and frankly that manic grin was frightening me. 

Christmas day, the blond guy was sick as a dog but managed to drag himself to the car so we could pick up his mother at one end of the city and drive to the other end for dinner with my mother, who snarled at me for being late and was put out that I had to take the poor man home early for more decongestants and acetominophen for his low grade fever.  We got to hear lots of gossip from both of the mothers about people we barely know or couldn't place - some of them were even relatives.

The sane spots were Christmas morning, just the blond guy, the kids and me, and a quick visit from friends where we raised a genuine glass of cheer.  Oh, and my stuffed salmon on Christmas eve was to die for, if I do say so myself.  So it was still a nice Christmas.  :-)