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Holiday Hell

2002 Archive

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My husband and I met while I was visiting my older brother. After a long distance relationship of over one year I accepted my (now) husband's proposal and moved cross country to marry him and set up house in his home town. I knew very few people in this new city, but being fairly gregarious formed a few tentative friendships quickly with other transplants like myself, as well as with some friends he had had since grade school. 

Our first Christmas together was a hodgepodge of his family's traditions as well as some I had begun as an adult (I was 27 and well established in life) including a Christmas Eve party, inviting friends and family that otherwise would have no place to spend the evening. I had always been a bit of "collector" of people and figured the more the merrier. Until that year. 

A new acquaintance, we will call her "T" who was a bartender and I had met at the our health club had received her invitation weeks in advance but called the afternoon of the event to ask if she could bring a friend ,we will call her "S", and her friend's daughter who had nowhere else to go and were feeling a little down about it. Of course my response was "yes" as I cook for an army, have service for 12 and only had 10 adult that year as well as plenty of space at the children's table. I am also an impulse shopper so have a gift closet stocked for emergencies such as this, and after determining the child's age I picked (what I thought was) an appropriate gift, wrapped it then proceeded to strip the table so I could put the another leave in it and reset it properly adding a new place. 

Most of the guests had arrived and all was going exceedingly well until "T" arrived with a very drunken "S" and a very whiny, hungry little girl. Apparently the child had to be fed promptly or she was going to have a melt down in my living room, so I left my guests and fixed her a plate of cheese and crackers. As we were returning to the living room hand in hand we heard a huge crash followed by REALLY loud rap music ( I had in a collection of Christmas music, I think Frank Sinatra was on). In the living room drunken guest,"S", had fallen against the stereo cabinet breaking the glass door, but not cutting herself, as she was changing the CD to "something she that doesn't suck". I grinned and bore it as I directed her to the couch where she hopefully would sit for a moment or two out of harm's way and offered her some coffee. She insisted that she wanted wine as we had a rolling bar set up nearby but I refused to serve her any alcohol. She became belligerent and "T" served her just to shut her up. "S" promptly dropped and broke the glass, one of a set of hand cut Austrian Crystal we had received as a wedding present and that had been shipped from Russia. 

As she was bending down to help clean it she fell off the couch and knocked over another guests plate of shrimp cocktail that was sitting on the coffee table. Throw her usage of some language that would make the saltiest of sailors blush and you get the picture. At this point I knew if she stayed the evening would be a total wash, my new husband was shooting me killer looks as he cleaned up her various messes and mentally tallied the financial cost of the damage, my guests had crowded unto the patio (billiards table) to get away from the obnoxious twit and the children were, quite frankly, frightened of her. So I pulled "T" aside and suggested she return drunken monster from whatever gutter she had pulled her from and see about finding suitable childcare for the girl or leaving the girl with us while she got the mother home and into bed. 

At this point, mind you, she had only been in our home for 20 minutes or so. "T" took this as a direct insult to her and after a few choice words directed my way stormed out, leaving strange intoxicated scag and her poor innocent offspring for us to deal with. We tried to get an address so my husband could drive her home but it appeared she literally had no place to go at the moment and I simply could not turn them out in the street. If "S" had been alone her butt would have hit the curb quicker than a dirty kitty litter bag but she did have a child with her who, at the very least, deserved to have a happy holiday. 

After persuading "S" that a nap was in order I tucked her into the spare room, shut the lights and served our formal dinner, which was interrupted by the caterwauling coming from the spare room. Seems "S" gets very depressed during the holidays and not only drinks excessively but cries a lot and is occasionally violent. 

Shortly after dinner a knock at the door produces a boyfriend who is willing to take "S" , but would we mind keeping the girl overnight? She shouldn't see he mother like this, blah,blah,blah. After telling him of our plans for the next day and giving him every conceivable number we could be reached at we bid her good- bye and good riddance. I wrapped a few more presents from my closet up quickly for the abandoned daughter while another guest at the party with a daughter slightly larger in size than the misplaced girl brought back clean pajamas, a toothbrush ,a bag of clothing for the next day and a small present that had been intended for her own child to open the next morning. The next afternoon the child's grandmother came out (27 miles outside of town) to my new in-laws to pick the girl up and instead of "Thank you" I received a lecture on how inappropriate it is to give a white Barbie to a black child. No mention was made of any of the other gifts or the new clothing she was wearing.



My fiancé's brother Gerry has a long term girlfriend, named Lisa. Lisa is not a favorite of mine, she doesn't really work (she sells Tupperware), is rather rude and simply classless. Gerry and Lisa have been together for 14 years. Gerry has twin sons, 22 years old, who are not Lisa's. The twin sons find Lisa as distasteful as I do but she considers herself "the mom".

At Christmas last year, the family didn't have a big family get together. My fiancé and I went to a big hotel for dinner and Gerry and Lisa had everyone drop by their small, overstuffed trailer for cheese and crackers. The trailer is small to begin with but Lisa is a packrat and the living room is stuffed with boxes full of Tupperware. We stopped by out of familial obligation and there was nowhere to sit - I sat on the floor and fiancé sat on the bowflex. There were far too many people for the trailer. This year, there are even more people as both boys have girlfriends/wives and babies.

Fiancé and I had recently moved to a large house, with plenty of room for the entire family. I suggested we have Christmas dinner at our house, and fiancé thought it was a great idea. We told Gerry and Lisa about our plan. Lisa expressed to me that she really wanted to use her "Christmas dishes" and "gold silverware" (oh joy). I felt bad and told her to please bring over her Christmas dishes and her gold silverware and she could help me cook. She agreed.

The Friday before Christmas she called me at work (inappropriate to begin with) and told me she had changed her mind about having Christmas at our house, and that she was going to have it at her trailer. I said ok. She said she just wanted to let me know so I didn't buy a turkey. I told her I had no intentions of changing my plans, but she could do whatever she liked. There was an uncomfortable silence and she then made smalltalk and got off the phone.

Monday when I arrived at work there was a voice mail. Unusual. I retrieved it. It was Lisa, on Saturday. Apparently, she was afraid to call me and actually speak to me so she left the message at my place of business instead. I taped the message. 

After this bizarro message was another message from her. I wish I had saved it. It said "I am feeling much better now and I just had to say what I said. I feel much better now" (as if I give a damn how she feels) "I am going to try to FORGIVE YOU". FORGIVE ME????

The good thing that has come out of this situation is that I no longer have to speak to Lisa, I can now pretend she doesn't exist. Fiancé called his brother and had them throw away my work phone number. And everyone came over our house on Christmas except for them.



All right. So back in middle school I was a part of a very close-knit group of friends. We did everything together, we were in *all* the same classes, we didn't even have to ask permission before we spent the night at each other's houses (not even on school nights).

Years went by and we've all moved on in our lives, though we haven't moved far geographically and we remain excellent friends. We average seven major group get-togethers a year, and there are constant minor, two-or-three-person trips to concerts, movies, parties, the library, and so forth.

But the majorest of the seven major group get-togethers is Halloween. Ever since the sixth grade, the rule has been "Do Not Make Plans On Halloween, Because You Already Have Plans". Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are all family holidays (though we do always have a Christmas party that is not on Christmas). Halloween is a Friend holiday. Thus it always has been, thus it always shall be.

We take turns hosting (i.e. deciding what to do and arranging it, not necessarily donating our own homes for the party), sometimes we go to a restaurant, or a club, or just stay home and watch movies, whatever.

This past year, it was my turn to host. I realized we hadn't had a proper, sit-down dinner party in years, and I sent out our traditional little black coffin-shaped invitations informing people of the nature of the party, and the start time (5 pm). Everyone responded saying they would be there without question. Where else *would* they be on Halloween, than our party?, they said.

I am a traditionalist at heart, as well as being fond of going all out for holidays, so I prepared a couple of pumpkin dishes and some traditional Celtic dishes in honor of the holiday's pagan roots (we're open-minded that way). I dug out the black tablecloth and orange candlesticks. I also etched Jack-o-lantern faces onto wine glasses and assembled little bags of miniature chocolate bars and other candies we loved when we trick-or-treated. For months before the party, when I dusted I left the spiderwebs in the chandelier undisturbed (I'm fond of little touches, like using real spiderwebs instead of that fake stuff). I try to have fun with Halloween. ;)

The day of the party, all my friends and their dates (those of them who had brought dates) arrived between 5 and 5:30, except for "Eva". We thought this odd, as prior to that event she'd always been the first or second to arrive, but we shrugged it off and occupied ourselves with Halloween-themed cocktails and mixed nuts while we waited. And waited. And waited. She didn't phone, nobody had a clue why she was so late.

Eventually we started without her, which was unprecedented in our group, but it was also unprecedented to be so late to a get-together (whether minor or major).

A quarter past nine, Eva showed up with her boyfriend "Jim". It turned out that Jim had gone to a job interview two days before, and on the day of the party he learned he got the job so he took Eva out to dinner to celebrate.



Dear Miss Jeanne,

When a friend related the following story, I immediately thought of your web site. Here is the story, with all identifying information removed to protect the innocent:

A couple of days ago, my aunt stopped in here. My brother and his girlfriend were here for the day, so she felt it was a good time to deliver our Xmas gifts. She has never been punctual, so we don't expect anything on time. Let me also add that I'm a believer in "It's the thought that counts."

My brother and his girlfriend open their gifts. There's clothes from the Baby Gap, glossy storybooks, rugs, towels, and new dishes. Out in the car, there's a crib.

I open my gift bag. It's filled with those little soaps and shampoos you steal from hotel rooms. I smile and say thank-you. My mother had a look on her face, so my aunt says "Well, she should have a job by now, and they're having a baby, so I figured she wouldn't mind."

It's embarrassing to even tell that story, but it's been festering for the past couple of days. Since I believe that it's the thought that counts, I have to wonder what my aunt thinks of me. I felt like I was being punished for not being employed.


I am one of the lucky individuals to have been blessed with a wonderful step family and am especially close to my stepmother's mom whom I call "grandma."  I had never had a problem with any of them until this past New Year's holiday.  

My husband and I flew back to my home state in the Southwest to visit my friends and relatives and to attend my cousin's wedding.  We made arrangements to take "grandma" and my stepmother out to lunch at a nice restaurant on a Thursday and were looking forward to it.  

We arrived at "grandma's" house and chatted with her and my stepmother's sister and her daughter who live with "grandma."  Another sister and her son were temporarily living there as well.  Now every year, about a month or so before Christmas, the adults in my step family draw names out of a bowl for gifts.  Whoever's name the person drew that was who they were to buy a gift for.  Before I had moved to the East Coast with my husband, I had always happily participated in this event.  This time I had forgotten all about it and no one contacted me to ask if I was still willing to participate so I showed up to my "grandma's" house empty handed.  

Unfortunately, my stepmother's sister was expecting a gift from us and was angry when we showed up with nothing for her.  It turned out that my stepmother and MY DAD drew the sister's name on my behalf WITHOUT ASKING MY PERMISSION TO DO SO and then FORGOT to TELL ME whose name "I" drew and that I needed to show up with a gift!!!!  My poor "grandma" was mortified about both of her daughters' behavior and not wanting to cause her any further discomfort, I refrained from giving my stepmother and my dad a piece of my mind during lunch.  When I did get on their case later in the week, they seemed confused that I was angry with them.  They didn't see anything wrong with what they'd done!!!  When I asked them what the sister would like for a gift, my dad said I should said her a lump of coal for chewing me out (yes, the sister handled the misunderstanding badly, but what my stepmother and dad did is inexcusable).  The older I get, the harder it is for me to believe that I am this man's offspring.  I chose to send a small cash gift instead and actually received a handwritten thank you note.


Here's one for the record books.

I met my husband in August of 1995. He comes from a somewhat large family (with four other siblings - all with the same father, but three different mothers; let's just say dear old dad was apparently "prolific"). 

The first Christmas that I spent with him (December of 1995) I was introduced to a strange and odd custom that his family has for the holidays. At Thanksgiving, they would all draw names for both a Christmas gift and a Christmas stocking. So you'd get two different names, one for whom you would prepare a Christmas stocking and one for whom you would buy a Christmas gift. All the siblings and their spouses participated, along with my husband's father and stepmother. 

Now, this is not odd in and of itself. A lot of people draw names to reduce the cost of gifts, particularly if there are a lot of people in the family. What I thought was odd was when I went to draw my two names and my husband's father quickly slapped my hand and said, "Oh no! Not you! You're not part of the family." (Must have to be part of a "special club" or something.) Now I could certainly understand the fact that we had been dating for only four or five months, but this happened routinely all the years since then until we got married in August of 2000. I was always greeted with the fact that I could not participate in the gift exchange because I was "not part of the family". Even after we were engaged, I was still excluded because I was "not part of the family". I tried to be a bigger person; I had gifts for everyone. Do you think they got the message I was giving them? Not in this lifetime.

As a side note, while they would not "permit" me to participate in their gift exchange, they did invite me to their Christmas Eve festivities, where I could politely sit and watch all of them open their gifts. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

But it appears that dear old dad is getting softer in his older age (or perhaps "senile" is the proper word here). This past Christmas, he actually had gifts for all of his children (not just the ones whose names he had drawn). Of course, the "gifts" were huge tins of popcorn that he picked up at a discount store for $5.95 a pop. Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas and Happy Popping!



I have an aunt who has always been unpleasant, she was married (now widowed) to my mother's brother. Every Christmas she sends one card addressed to Mom and me (Mom is also widowed). I haven't lived with my mother since 1986, haven't lived in the same STATE as my mother since 1989! This aunt's reason? I'm single.


Page Last Updated May 18, 2007