This thread was inspired by the Happy Childhood Memories thread as well as some recent correspondence with my brother, in which we exchanged memories of our most desolate, unhappy, disappointing holiday experiences.
Ours to start:
I was living in Marin County and brother Beav was living in SF, both of us in our early 20’s, working dead end jobs and making scant money. We thought it would be super luxurious, indulgent fun to have Thanksgiving in a nice restaurant in SF, so Beav called to make a reservation at a nice place he’d heard about. TGD rolled around, and of course it was raining, dark & cold – typical NoCal “holiday” weather. I had no car and had to take the bus into SF & walk several blocks to his apartment. We then proceeded to the restaurant, many neighborhoods away. Our memories differ at this point as to the method of conveyance to said restaurant; Beav recalls us taking his Riva scooter in the pouring rain while I contend it was MUNI and several bus transfers in the pouring rain. In any case, we finally arrived on the block where the restaurant was located….the restaurant with no lights on….and the locked door. There was a crudely hand-lettered note taped to the door which read, “Dear Mr customer Beav we are very sorry our new employee took your reservation. We are not open today Happy Thanksgiving”. I recall being just dumbfounded, standing there in the rain with no dinner and no place to go.
Beav was living in East Boston…same basic scenario, lousy apartment, low-paying job, jerky roommates etc. Having spent his last $2.37 in the cheapest Chinese food he could find to stuff himself with on Thanksgiving day, he was dejectedly making his way across Harvard Square in the gathering dusk when suddenly, he espied, up ahead…striding across the Square – oh my gosh! Could it be?? DAD?!?!
Beav broke into a run to catch up with him, and promptly ran straight into a low-profile fire hydrant, nearly breaking his shinbone. As he lay on the sidewalk, clutching his shin, yelping in pain, the man turned around - it wasn’t Dad at all. Like, why would he come all the way to Boston and not even call?
Please share your stories of the lamest, crappiest holidays ever. Yes, birthdays are included.
I’d say that last Christmas (2009) was probably the crappiest for me.
My dear bride was staying with our son near her doctors in Birmingham, bedridden and on supplemental oxygen after several hospital stays, the last of which was nearly terminal.
The inevitable unexpected medical bills had drained our accounts almost completely.
The night of Wednesday 23 Dec 2009, there was a terrible rainstorm. On my drive back home from the lab, I hit a cinder block that had somehow made its way into the street. My van fishtailed and I sideswiped a roadsign, taking out my right rear view mirror and right front tire. Needless to say, my car was disabled, and I couldn’t really afford a tow truck, so I walked the 7 miles back home that night in the rain. I had the next day off, and drove my other car out to the scene and changed my tire. Then I drove back home, walked back to the van and drove it back home.
We missed the annual family get-together, because she was too ill to get up.
There were no gifts, of course, and we spent the day worried about whether she was going to make it and whether we were going to have to declare bankruptcy.
Things are somewhat better now, but that was easily the worst holiday I have ever spent.
I remember one Christmas, I guess I was maybe 17, where whenever someone asked what I wanted I told them to just get me underwear or something, I wasn’t picky. When the day rolled around every last one of my family had gotten me nothing but plain white cotton briefs or granny panties. They took me much more literally than I meant, and I was kind of disappointed. I guess I was pickier than I thought, too.
My 30th birthday kind of sucked. I stayed home alone all day because my then husband had taken the car to work, and my stepmother baked me a shitty cake and I went to my aunt’s house and ate it with my parents and old auntie. No one else bothered to come. I don’t think my husband even got me anything (we weren’t doing well, I left (more like escaped) him 4 months later).
Oh, there was the Christmas I was expecting a proposal and my then BF gave me the ring and told me he was giving it to me anyway, but it wasn’t an engagement ring after all. He’d decided he didn’t want to marry me.
I moved from Oklahoma City to Phoenix, AZ in December in the early '80’s. I didn’t know a soul, and this was in pre-cell phone days, so conversations with my girl friend or family were short, once-a-week, budgeted things. Needless to say, I didn’t have money for a trip home. Eating pancakes at Denny’s on a 70 degree Christmas Day just about did me in.
Last year (and probably this year) my Birthday kinda sucked. Since I work from home, I don’t even have people to go out for drinks with, so it ends up being a lonely night. My birthday is the one day of the year that I like for people to make a fuss over me. The rest of the year, I don’t mind, but I like for my birthday to be special.
Kids can get really exited about Christmas, and I guess my brothers and I got on my mom’s nerves when I was 4 or 5, so they loaded us and our new toys into the station wagon and drove to the Indian reservation and made us watch them give our toys away.
In 2002, Christmas was on a Wednesday. I had a ticket to fly to Florida to be with my family for the Monday before. Since I wasn’t going to be with my girlfriend, we exchanged gifts the night before. Monday morning I woke up feeling like death. I had the flu about as bad as one can get it. I knew there was no way I was going to survive a plane trip. Even the thought of getting to the airport was more than I could handle. I had just enough energy to call my dad and tell him I wasn’t going to make it, then I slept for another few hours.
On Christmas day, I mostly spent the day in either my bed or my girlfriend’s. (We not only lived in the same apartment building, but on the same floor, so none of this getting bundled up business to go see her.) She had to go visit her family for a few hours, and she was kind enough to buy me a book as an extra present. I talked to every member of my family on the phone. There were 11 of them, so by the end of the day I lost my voice. I didn’t end up getting well or getting my voice back for about a month.
Having said all that, I remember it being very cozy.
This has gotta be the most depressing thread on the board right now…
I’ll be back, I’m sure. Christmases with my mother were such a horrorshow, I’m sure I can cough up an anecdote or two.
In the meantime, one of my uncles died on Thanksgiving Day. He was Polish, so it’s not like it was a meaningful day to him or his family, but it sure cast a pall on our dinner. My mother was at her tearful, morbid, melodramatic best that evening. (He was my favorite relative, too. :()
My paternal grandparents were expert guilt-trippers, and every year that I can remember, held my parents hostage with some version of "it might be [FITB]'s last Christmas, forcing us to drive 6 hours across the state for nothing but criticism and general assholery.
They didn’t like my mother. They were mad at my dad for not wanting to be a farmer. I wasn’t pretty or girly enough. My brother was off the hook for being a boy, for the most part, although they couldn’t quite forgive him for being my mother’s son, and as far as they were concerned, our cousins were the golden spawn who could do no wrong. (And to be fair to said cousins, they knew what was going on and joined my brother and me in grandparent avoidance while all this went on)
So pretty much every Christmas. Though I remember one year where Grandma started in on I don’t even remember what the minute we walked in the door, and Dad loaded us all back in the car and we drove 6 hours back across the state. I was carsick as all hell, but it was so worth it.
When I was eight, my older sister had an aneurism that put her in the hospital intensive care unit for several weeks. On Halloween day my dad explains to me while putting on my costume that we would not be going out trick-or-treating that year, and that we would be visiting my sister in the hospital instead. He promised me he would buy me a big bag of candy the next day. I was disappointed, but knew better than to throw a fit about it. We did visit our three nearest neighbors (at 4 in the afternoon) before leaving; the old lady next door gladly gave me a candy bar and one for my sister, the lady across the street was not home, and the guy on the other side “didn’t believe in Halloween”, so no candy from him.
I get to the hospital, and all the attention I’m getting walking down the corridors in my fairy princess costume is cheering me up a bit, until we get to my sister’s room, and I see that she has been given a huge basket of candy with special Halloween decorations (Every patient on the pediatric ward was given one by the nurses). Three boring hours later we go home and I can see all the other neighborhood kids out getting candy.
The next day I ask my dad for my bag of candy and he says “Tomorrow”. The next day I ask him again and he says “Later”. We didn’t even give out any candy at the door that year, so there was no leftovers for me either. My entire haul for that Halloween was one fun size Snickers, and none of my friends got to see me in my costume. I believe with all my heart that my parents intended to make it up to me, but with them both working fulltime and with a kid in the hospital ICU, they just couldn’t make it a priority. Even at time, I understood that, but it stung for years to have had such an important (to a kid) holiday ruined with broken promises.
I realize that its a pretty lame story compared to dying family members and miles-long walks in poor weather, but it is the only holiday memory that really makes me frown.
All holidays are lame and disappointing. I could bitch for hours and hours about how and why.
I especially hate Thanksgiving. I hate we have no family any more, and what there is left of it is beyond pathetic. I put up with them because they’re old, sick, and feeble, and someone’s gotta do it -but I hate being over there. I hate the fucking turkey, even the smell turns my stomach. I hate that not only do I have to shop for it, bring it all over to my mother’s, and prepare it the day before (because she’s past it, but we fucking MUST go through the farce at her house like some kind of sacred tradition), then cook, serve, clean up, and we all get home at 10 p.m. - not only do I have to do all that but I have to cook ANOTHER dinner at home the next day. Because…“but…but what about our turkey?” It’s exhausting, depressing, disappointing, and I just dread it like a cancer diagnosis. It cannot be deflected or avoided, no substitutions, it must be done. I could just cry. (Over reacting? Maybe. It’s me. It’s all my problem, no one else has a problem with it.) Oh, and to make it even more poignant, when I was young we used to go visit beloved relatives in NYC and then go to a show and sightseeing the whole weekend. All in the past, alas.
Thanksgiving, 2004. Grandma had advanced Alzheimer’s and advanced pancreatic cancer. She was circling the drain and everyone knew. Hospice care, her bed was set up in her living room, and she was doped out of what’s left her mind on ever inscreasing doses of morphine. Basically she was comatose. My grandfather would not go any farther then the next room (& even then only if somebody else was sitting with her).
So in order for use to have a big family Thanksgiving dinner we had to carry her to my brother’s house (fortunatly that was next-door). We were afraid she’d die in the middle of dinner. To avoid that upsetting the great-grandchildren we set her up in a recliner in the living room and we adults (including 19 yr old me) sorta took shifts watching her to make sure she was still breathing.
She lasted until Friday afternoon. Me, Mom, Sister-in-law, and Grandpa were all sitting in her living room. We all got caught up in conversation (none of us can remember what it was about) when I looked over and noticed she wasn’t breathing. Mom & SiL confirmed that she was dead. And so began the round of calls. Letting relatives know (my sister & her kids were on the way to visit, but didn’t make it in time), telling the minister he didn’t need to come, hospice, and the funeral director.
That was the first (& so far only) funeral I helped plan. It was a sureal experience. There was a bunch of stuff I never even thought (or saw on Six Feet Under). Like having to decide what she was going to were before we picked out the casket so she wouldn’t clash.
I was not sad when she died. I was relived. She wasn’t in pain anymore. Her mind had rotted away so much she was a practically a vegetable. I was fine. Until we loaded her coffin into the hearse. Then I lost it. Dad was completely stoic, not a single tear (he had a breakdown alone with Mom).
orderfire: So what did you eat that night? Convenience store hotdogs? Whatever you could scrabble together in the kitchen? And great that they could leave a note instead of calling you back (bro did leave a contact number, right? They’re supposed to ask for one).
FrigidLizard: Yeah, it’s the broken promises that are unnecessary. And callous, to say the least. Also, priority schmiority. If they could buy groceries, they could spring for a bag of Hershey’s kisses. Especially after the holiday when the candy gets remaindered.
alphaboi: There’s a movie script in there somewhere. (Hey, I’m assuming you had a good reason, but why the company move one house over? Was Gma’s kitchen inadequate?)
I don’t feel like sharing my stories at this time. Suffice to say that as noted above, I’m much more familiar with post- than pre-Christmas sales.
A few years before I was born, my father had been an alcoholic who used to beat my mother. Years went by, I was born, father semi reformed.
So, my 12th Christmas, getting ready for the Christmas meal. My father, off and on, would go out to his car, doing who knows what. hmmm… I wasn’t paying too much attention, because I had presents and food on my mind. Next thing I know, mother and father were in a big argument. A lot of yelliing, etc… Of course, my father had liquor in the car and had been going out to get a drink.
Mom passed by where I was sitting, and snarled, “So, handsomeharry, I guess you’ve had another f**ked up Christmas!”
When I was a kid, my family was Jewish (Reform), but we got presents for both Christmas and Hannukah. My parents didn’t want us to feel left out.
One Christmas morning, my father dressed up as Santa Claus. I don’t remember how old we were, but we were past the age of believing in Santa Claus (if we ever did). So when he appeared, we knew who it was and laughed at him. My father had an extremely explosive temper, and when we laughed at him, he went into an hours-long rage . . . yelling, cursing, throwing things, slamming doors. It pretty much extinguished the Christmas spirit. Even the dog was miserable.
My uncle was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer about a week before Thanksgiving, one year. That whole side of the family had Thanksgiving at his wife’s house–cold cut sandwiches. Then we all went to the hospital to see him for the last time.
Probably Christmas of 2008. 3 of my relatives died in a single week beforehand. I was jobless and depressed. I spent Jesus’s birthday drinking wormwood out of my Andreas Baader coffee mug while listening to Bob River’s obscene Christmas carols.