Bad tidings we bring...

Worried your Christmas won't be perfect? You could be right. Rhodri Marsden asked for people's tales of festive disaster – and received a deluge of examples

Christmas is, as Andy Williams has advised us while perched atop a high stool, "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year".

But it's not if you're hallucinating in an Ecuadorian hospital, or if your dad set fire to a highly flammable festive wreath using a creme brûlée gun. Andy doesn't mention all this in the song, but we'll let him off, a) because it doesn't scan, and b) we're more than used to being given idealised depictions of Christmas that don't square up with reality.

Reality is usually pretty mundane. Every year you'll see a handful of characters in TV soaps wail about how they "wanted Christmas to be perfect", but Christmas always falls well short of perfect, not least because no one ever turns up and pays off your mortgage, then cooks you a Michelin star quality meal, then introduces you to a beautiful stranger who brings you to a shuddering climax. Instead, you sit and watch Deal Or No Deal and let off a series of heroic expulsions of wind.

But when it's not perfect, and it's not mundane, it can be dreadful. I posed a question on Twitter about best and worst Christmases, which prompted a glorious outpouring of British tragicomedy. There were stacks of terrible gifts: @scaraboo's godfather got her some anti-ageing cream. ("I was 18") while @ollybarratt recalled his disappointment on receiving a He-Man figurine stripped of its weapons and armour – "just a muscly man in pants". Illness was a predictably recurring theme, along with a broken spine (@pixiegigs) and an arm broken in the middle of cooking Xmas dinner (@sundayhandbag).

Additional dining disasters came from @liquidindian – who treated himself to a frozen chicken dinner from the corner shop only to discover that he was allergic to it – and @JamesWallis's dad, who served up a memorable breakfast of scrambled egg made with brandy butter.

Amid the hilarity were traumas that time takes a great deal longer to heal. @_gmh_ flew all the way to India to get dumped for Christmas, while @_blackie__'s tale is unspeakably raw: "My girlfriend dumped me during present handover, then asked me to leave so my replacement could come in." Fortunately, @mimivonpeach was on hand to remind us that Christmas can be sufficiently joyful to prompt all ye nations to rise. "Best was the year my brother got his first hearing aid," she said. "He was so excited, we put music on loud and danced around with our toys." Check out the full list at http://bit.ly/dreadful-xmas – and fingers crossed for something a little more Merry this year.

Tweets: My Worst Christmas

rwdlanrosser

Dad choked on turkey during Xmas dinner; parents spent hrs at A&E, leaving me (12) and bro (8) sitting watching food get cold.

sturdyAlex

Homeless, sleeping in costume store of a theatre, Pot Noodle for Xmas lunch, particularly aggressive rodent my only company.

sarcasminasuit

Girlfriend's (of six months) husband surprises her (and me, as I didn't know she was married) by arriving at the office party

death_stairs

2004, my sister was sick down the back of my neck and then my mum had bought tartar sauce instead of horseradish sauce.

cherrymorello

Worst Xmas: Ex got so drunk on Xmas Eve he wet the bed; still drunk in the morning, he opened EVERYBODY's presents under the tree.

Lady_Lithograph

1997. Massive storms, power cut, toddler sister split open her lip, nearest hospital 45 min drive, spent Xmas Eve there.

JamesWallis

Boxing Day: mid-1960s, my dad, very hungover, scrambled every egg in the house for breakfast. Used brandy butter. Inedible.

kirbychrome

1997. Dumped by girlfriend, poor, home with parents & an incontinent cat that kept pulling out its catheter.

Aled25

Best & Worst: The year I had a Roland Rat soft toy. Got so excited that I threw up over it and couldn't play with the vomity gift.

LoisMcEwan

Managed to set my hair on fire with a candle at Xmas dinner table in 1975

westings

1987. Got pushed onto the candles at church during the nativity and set on fire. The priest had to douse me with holy water

ponddrop

1997. Dog struck by car. Spent day and all money at vet. Best: 1997. Dad drunk, laying on floor to croon sweetly to said dog.

RacheleHawkins

my friend took half an"E" found in his pocket &tried to recreate Nirvana's Nevermind album cover (naked, swimming baby) during charades.

Misterfoz

1993: I got my Dad a stress ball and then bit it, burst it and glued my lips together with the goo inside. Family were disgusted.

SuzanneNobleUK

2003: BF's father gets drunk and comments that my butt doesn't seem to wobble when I walk. Awkward silence.

flamingnora

1992. BF (at the time) got me a Ladyshave. Asked me to wait outside Argos while he bought it and handed it to me unwrapped.

katstevens

1997, throwing up all night due to Mum's duff mince pies. Had just got to sleep at 8am when a car crashed into our wall.

SimonCoopey

Worst Xmas – mum died month before, so got very drunk. Found movie "Ratatouille" offensive & phoned President of France to complain.

_blackie__

1999: my girlfriend dumped me during present handover, then asked me to leave so my replacement could come in.

flisslang

Alcoholic Gran taking "1 for me, 1 for the pud" approach to making Xmas pudding. It exploded when lit and my uncle lost his eyebrows

stuartmiddleton

Aged 8, I leapt from the sofa, head-butted my grandad and knocked him unconscious. Was convinced I'd killed him despite reassurance.

jamiesmith1001

Mum had my dog put down on Xmas Eve when I was 9. Only present left under the tree was his and no one moved it till the new year.

edcaesar

Circa 1987 I set my Grandpa alight by firing a party popper across the table through a candle. He attempted to douse with whisky.

ChuckieRoberts

Nan's new bf was called Tom Jones. We teased him until he smashed the turkey with his cane and walked out. It's not unusual.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis