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Holiday Hell

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My story is about Thanksgiving at my aunt's house. I was 18 at the time and a freshman in college. My family (two younger siblings and my parents) have been estranged from this aunt for some time, so we were anxious to hopefully heal the breach between our families. (This is my father's sister.) In times gone by, Thanksgiving used to be a huge family event at my Aunt N's house: virtually everyone in America (some of them are still in Italy) will gather at her house for dinner. Somehow I expected this to be the same as all those other Thanksgivings.

Once we got there, something like 5 hours before dinner, my younger sister (12), who is a cordon bleu chef in the making, pitched into making the potatoes, basting the turkey, and green beans. I asked if I could help, but was told, "We'll call you for dinner". I wandered somewhat aimlessly through the house, and finally sat down and watched a movie in the den. Periodically I would get up and peek into the kitchen to see if there was something I could do yet.

Well, 5 1/2 hours passed quickly. I watched Father of the Bride, Princess Diaries, and Somewhere in Time before her dinner guests arrived and I was finally "called for dinner". (I had continued to ask if there was anything I could do, but was always told no.) My family  found out then that we were the only relatives invited: everyone else was a coworker or a friend from church. So much for the family gathering!

When I came to dinner, my aunt informed me that I and "the other children" would be sitting at a card table in the den, instead of sitting at the big table with the "grownups". Okay. I bit my tongue and sat at the card table, where I was introduced to J, a seventeen year old young man about as talkative as a rock (and I assure you I tried so very hard to start a conversation) and J's sister, N, who was 14. N waved at me, got on her cell phone, and did not get off until the very end of the meal. My brother also sat at the card table.

But where was my 12 year old sister? Seated at the adult table, between my aunt and her boyfriend, with "adult" china, a toasting glass, and a small amount of champagne to toast with! I asked my aunt why the youngest of the children was sitting with the adults. "Because she helped with the dinner, and none of you other kids did!" she told me. She spent most of the dinner extolling the virtues of my little sister and casting aspersions on the laziness of "the other siblings".

My sister is a wonderful little girl, and deserved every ounce of praise. But my brother and I had done nothing to my aunt, and both of us had asked if she wanted us to help. She had no right to act like we were lazy and wouldn't help. She wouldn't let us help!

This aunt came for Christmas, and spent the entire time telling me I was an idiot, because I was working on becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor, and didn't feel like I could handle a boyfriend. Obviously, a truly empowered woman needs a boyfriend to keep her going! She gave me the number of five different "eligible" boys. I looked them up on myspace--the oldest was 25 and the youngest was 13. That's... really gross.

While my stories certainly aren't as hellish as some, they were pretty darn bad. I'm looking forward to my eminent move across the country, if only to escape my Aunt N!



First off, people who plan their weddings over holiday weekends annoy me. It's not just their holiday, it's my holiday too and I would have liked to enjoy my holiday my way, not at the worst reception ever. (Weddings held over Memorial Day or Labor day weekend are the worst and I have been invited to one and refused to go)

The ceremony was interesting, to say the least. It was at their family temple and we believe that they surprised the Rabbi with a Sand Ceremony. The bride took the microphone and announced they were doing it and the Rabbi said, well this is not traditional. Eh, it was time consuming and boring.

The ceremony was at 8 pm, the reception was at 9 pm, which should have been fine, it took us about 45 minutes to drive to the reception hall. We even stopped along the way to pick up some water. We go to go in the hall and the doors are locked. We knock and someone came to the door, who didn't speak English, and between her broken English and our broken Spanish, we find out that we have to wait for the Bride and Groom. Ok, we go back to the car and wait. Then the buses start rolling in. That was a nice touch for the people who didn't want, or out of town guests to have bus service from the ceremony to the reception. They get out of the bus and try the door. Of course the doors are still locked.

There's some yelling and general complaining, but most of the people got back on the buses and waited, just like us. Like I said, including the stop it only took us 45 minutes to get to the reception, the buses were there at 9 pm on the dot. However the bride and groom were not. They were not there at

9.30, or 9.45 at about 10.15 a white limo finally pulls up and out rolls a very drunken bride, being held up by her groom. The buses unload and we decide to sit in the car and wait until the crowd clears. We can see and hear everything from our vantage point. The staff usher in the bride and groom and slam shut the door. Like people were trying to get in and they slammed the door in their faces.

Then the buses leave, leaving about 60 or so people standing outside. Thank goodness it's was surprisingly warm, b/c people were standing out there for about 15 minutes. Finally the doors open and the bride, still being propped up by the groom, try to welcome everyone in to what they call a wonderful winter wonderland!

The room was white, on white, on white. Now that can look great or like someone just decided not to color coordinate. This was charmless and kind of 80's prom like. There were sparkly snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, glitter on the tables. Mini martini glasses filled with glitter, next to regular martini glasses, which were "stenciled with the bride and groom's name and date on there, these were filled with mini marshmallows, finally there were great big martini glasses on the tables filled with white carnations.

Guess what the bride's favorite drink was....Martinis! Which she drank several of them after the ceremony, before she got to the reception. She was piss drunk! It's 10:45 pm before we're actually seated. We had to go thru a receiving line, where the bride would start going off and saying that No, she's not drunk. My husband gets up to go and get a drink and we find out that they are not serving hard liquor, only beer and wine. And of that only that cheap Natural Ice and white wine. That is taking the whole winter wonderland theme a bit too far.

About 11 pm, there's some speeches, prayers over the bread and wine, and the first course is served. Iceburg lettuce salad. The second course, is a cold water crest soup. By the third course I'm getting sick of this wedding, tired, and very cold. I asked the waiter for some coffee and they tell me that they are not serving coffee. It's too hot and doesn't go with the theme of the stupid reception.

At midnight, the bride and groom have their first dance. The bride has most of her composure back. She didn't seem as horribly drunk as before. Balloons and glitter start falling from the ceiling. The music starts and it seems very familiar. Yes, it was the song from the cartoon movie Beauty and the Beast.

People were actually laughing at it. Who really was the beast, the groom or the drunk bride. After that we went home. But from what I heard afterwards, the main course involved a frozen granita, there was an ice cream cake, and after the dance, the bride and groom disappeared.

Today we got a Thank you card in the mail. It was preprinted.



My best friend (Kate) who is a city slicker married a country boy (Matt).  Matt's family lives is a small East Texas Town.  Kate and Matt reside in Houston.  Its around a 4 hour drive without traffic.  Kate and Matt were going to Matt's in-laws for Thanksgiving.  The whole extended family comes (around 50 people).  Out of all the family, Kate and Matt are the only two that do not live in the East Texas Town's area.  The dinner is normally potluck.  Two days before they are set to leave, Kate's MIL calls and wants them to bring the turkey.  Kate is instructed the turkey should be smoked.  Kate goes to four stores and ends up having to buy 4 smoked turkeys (which are way more costly than a frozen bird) since there are going to be around 50 people.  

The day before they leave, the MIL calls back and wants the turkey deboned.  Keep in mind they have a 4 hour drive with a toddler to make.  Kate has to go get more meat because the MIL only wants white meat.  Kate goes out and gets 2 more smoked turkeys.  Then MIL calls back and wants them to bring soda.  Kate goes out and buys soda.  Then MIL calls backs and want them to bring rolls.  Kate goes out and buys prepackaged rolls.  MIL calls and says they need to be homemade which means Kate has to make them before she leaves Houston.   How are they supposed to carry the meat, sodas, and rolls for 50 people plus their luggage for a 5 day stay?  FIL calls and tells her to bring the side dishes.  Kate finally puts her foot down and says no.  Thanksgiving day - MIL complains there isn't enough food to go around.  The MIL thought Kate could prepare the whole dinner for 50 guests and transport it for 4 hours.  Kate finally told hubby that there will be no more Thanksgivings with his family.  



In 1990 my cousin was in the navy and stationed in Pensacola, FL, not far from our hometown. His wife, who I will call Lynn, was about seven months pregnant, and as Christmas rolled around, she invited my aunt, uncle, my cousin’s younger brother, as well as my mom, sister and myself up to the base for the holidays. I was 17 at the time. So we all pile into two cars and make the 6 hour drive. Lynn, all the while, was talking about what a great feast she was planning, and how excited she was to have us there, as it was our first Christmas together as a family. They had been married early in the year.

We got there about two days before Christmas Eve, and we were having a great time, though my aunt quietly pointed out to us that she had not seen anything to indicate that Lynn was planning any sort of “feast” for Christmas dinner. Lynn, however, kept telling us what a great feast she had planned, and assured us all that she did not need any help, even though my ten year old sister was even aware that something wasn’t adding up. Not that anyone was snooping, but it was a help yourself sort of household, so if we went in the fridge or freezer for anything, we could not help but notice that there was nothing in there except standard groceries.

Christmas Eve rolls around, and in our family, this meant opening gifts at midnight, eating a light meal, and having a few drinks, as we always did the big meal on Christmas Day. Lynn had not gone shopping, but she kept building up this feast she was planning involving a spectacular bird and all the trimmings. We all knew something was up, and my mom kept whispering that we were going to end up feasting on leftover pizza, which is what we ended up eating on Christmas Eve. While not what we would usually eat, Lynn had ordered it, and that was fine by us.

Christmas Day.  Lynn informs us that she forgot to defrost the bird, which turned out to be a Cornish hen that was tucked behind the ice cream in the freezer. My uncle, who is always outspoken tells her that a Cornish hen barely feeds two much less a house full of people, and we decided to all just go out, mercilessly teasing Lynn the entire time. I would have been embarrassed if I’d been in her place, but she did not even seem phased, even when my uncle announced the meal would be on him. If ever you are in Pensacola on Christmas Day with nothing to eat, I can recommend Waffle House, so long as you stick to breakfast food, as it was the only place open. And that’s where we ate our Christmas feast in 1990.


My husband and I have been married for 6 years and have been trying to conceive for the last three, sadly with no success. While we keep our struggles relatively private, our families know that we would like to have children.

This past Christmas (2006) a gift arrived in the mail from one of my dimwitted BIL's (his wife and two children were on the note card as well). I opened the package, pulled out the gift and my jaw hit the floor. In my hand I held an ornament with two little birds sitting on the edge of a nest; on the front of the nest "Empty Nesters" was stamped in bold, black ink.   As I know it, and I cannot believe that there would be more than one interpretation, the term "empty nester" would only apply to individuals that had children that are no longer living with them. (Logic would dictate that in order to have an empty nest, one would have to have it filled at some earlier point.)   At best, my BIL is the most ignorant human being. At worst.... just another reason why I refuse to ever see him again.   


This is in response to HolidayHell 1218-05 in which the writer laments about how rude her mother was for not calling her when her plane flight was delayed six hours, thus causing the writer to pitch a fit and call her mother leaving an angry message about how inconvenienced she was in waiting so long for her.  True enough, mother could have used a pay phone to call to explain the delay, however it is far more rude to get SO angry at a person for something that is out of their control.  Plus sometimes they corral you onto the plane and expect you to sit there immobile for hours without access to the payphones all the while telling you the flight will be on time or only delayed a few minutes (this has happened to me).  So mother might not have been able to call by the time she knew the delay was going to be significant.  Besides, the writer could have just as easily called the airport or checked their website for delays and updates.  It's really easy to do.  All you need to know is what airline and where they are flying in from.  The writer needs to take some responsibility and not become enraged over something she could have calmly discovered on her own. 



Every Christmas, we open presents at my sister's house.  I prefer to hand out presents one at a time so that everyone can see what the other person gets.  However, my sister prefers to make it more of less of a free for all and passes out one gift to each person, who then rips it open, says thanks and moves onto the next gift. 

One Christmas, my parents and I decided to pool our money and buy a rather expensive gift for my sister.  During the chaos of opening gifts, she got around to her big gift, opened it and said thank you.  She seemed to be pretty pleased with the gift she received. 

After we were all finished, I left to go home at about 1 AM.  By the time I had gotten home (I live about 1 hour away), there was a message on my answering machine from my sister which said " Hi Sister, I am not sure what happened, but it looks like you forgot to bring my Christmas gift to my house.  Give me a call when you get a moment so we can arrange a time for you to drop it off". 

In all the chaos, she didn't read the "To:" and "From:" card and decided the gift was only from my parents. Now, my parents have always treated us fairly so I am not sure why she thought for a second that they would buy her a $500 Christmas gift and only buy me a $100 gift, but what shocks me more is the sheer urgency she felt in calling me to tell me that I had forgotten her gift!! 

A year later, we stopped giving gifts to each other and have made it all about the children now.....


Page Last Updated September 18, 2008