December 19, 2023 | Violet Newbury

Holidays Gone Wrong

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time filled with joy. However, while jingle bells are ringing and carolers are singing, some people are experiencing anything but Christmas cheer. Here are some stories from Redditors who describe some of their worst Christmases ever. These horror stories will make anyone reading rethink the hype of the holidays.

1. Suffering From Exhaust-ion

My grandparents got into a car accident with a truck while they were doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. It's a miracle they survived, but they had to stay in the ICU. So, on Christmas day, after opening our presents, my family and I hurriedly drove for two hours to the city hospital where my grandparents were admitted. 

We checked into a hotel and stayed there for the next three days until another relative took over. However, this was just the beginning of our difficult journey.

We were stuck in a ground-floor hotel room that was uncomfortably warm, so we had to keep the AC running. During the night, a diesel truck parked next to our AC unit left its engine running. The truck's exhaust was unfortunately drawn into our room through the AC. We were all asleep and didn't realize that I had stopped breathing due to the exhaust fumes until my dad woke up and saved me.

Holiday NightmaresPicryl

2. Mom Was The Real Life Saver

When I was a little kid, one Christmas, my stocking was loaded with a bounty of candy including a pack Lifesavers. Back then, I was quite taken by the soothing flavor of mint and I couldn't resist snacking on them as I retired to my room to organize my new goodies. My gusto got the better of me and I mistakenly gulped down an entire Lifesaver mint. It got jammed solidly in my throat, and I found myself drawing in ragged breaths through the small hole in its center.

Each gulp I attempted was agonizing, and an outcry was beyond my capabilities. I also couldn't open the door for some odd reason and it felt as if the lodged mint was twisting in my windpipe, choking off my air. A cough was out of the question. As my vision began to blur, my mother miraculously showed up in my room, probably wondering why I hadn't returned downstairs.

She imitated a ninja's quick reactions and pounded on my back. Without wasting any time with questions, she knocked the dangerously stuck candy out of my throat, releasing it back into my mouth. I dropped to the floor, gasping for much-needed oxygen, but she was not finished with the episode yet. 

As she captured a memory with her camera, she expressed relief that I hadn't actually lost my life. Then, she went down to share with the rest of our family about how I had a near-death experience with a mint. Now, every Christmas she gifts me a pack of LifeSavers with a humorous reminder, "Do try not to choke this time".

Holiday NightmaresPexels

3. Kelly’s Christmas Was Crushed

Back in high school, my big sister Kelly wasn't the best sport. Picture this: Kelly was 16, and I was 13. Cruelly, she nagged our cash-strapped mom about never receiving a fitting Christmas present, accusing our mom of having awful taste. Despite Kelly being the eldest of us six, poverty didn't seem to click for her. It got to a point where our mom started believing Kelly, resolving to turn that year around for her.

They decided to hit a local department store where Kelly pointed to approximately seven items she'd like for Christmas, reassuring that even one of them would please her. Wanting to astound her, mom bought every single item. Eventually, she kind of spilled the beans about Kelly receiving all her heart's desires.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve, as mom's wrapping the loads of gifts, she remembers I only got one. Thinking on her feet, she removes my name from one of Kelly’s gifts. Christmas morning rolls around, and Kelly's unwrapping her multitude of presents, while I was on my second. I reveal some random board game, and Kelly completely loses it.

Assuming all the gifts were hers, missing one, and worse, witnessing someone else unveil it was more than she could bear. She had an epic meltdown. I tried to hand over the board game to her, honestly, I didn't even want it. But the harm was already done.

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4. Creepy Crawly Christmas

Back when I was a kid in Iowa, we had this annual tradition of chopping down a tree for Christmas. One particular year, after setting up our tree, we noticed brown bits scattering all around it. My mom would sweep it up regularly but they seemed to keep coming back. Then came the creepy part.

A friend of Mom's dropped by one day and told her those brown bits were actually baby spiders. Turns out, we'd unwittingly dragged a spider-infested tree into our home! Thankfully, the newly hatched spiders couldn't survive once out of their eggs. We swiftly disposed of the tree and did a thorough house cleaning. Since that day, we've always stuck to an artificial Christmas tree.

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5. Not A Moment To Breathe

I had a sleepover at my boyfriend's parents' place. Suddenly, around 2 AM, I woke up feeling extremely unwell. It was so bad that I had to wake my boyfriend up and urge him to drive me home, which was half an hour away. Just as he stood up to help me, he also started feeling unwell. 

His parents, who were sleeping, awoke at the sound and they felt sick as well. We soon discovered the reason for this sudden discomfort; the vent of the wood stove had dislodged and was filling the whole house with poisonous carbon monoxide. We could have faced a disastrous Christmas morning.

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6. Home For The Holidays

Back in the early '80s when my parents were in the courtship phase, my mom set out to spend Christmas with my dad's family at his place. It was during this trip when disaster hit. A drunk driver, a mile away from dad's place, collided with my mom's vehicle hitting her directly on the driver's side door. Miraculously, she survived the accident, but it left a perpetual mark on her in the form of a noticeable missing part of her left bicep, similar to a shark bite.

Furthermore, the terrifying crash led to a massive loss of blood due to the sum total of her injuries, requiring several blood transfusions. Unfortunately, this led to an unpleasant outcome down the line.

The safeguards on blood testing were not as stringent then as they are today. As such, my mom received hepatitis C infected blood during one of the transfusions. Thankfully, my elder brother and I were spared from the infection, as she insisted we were tested intensely to ensure we were safe. A lasting impact of the whole incident is that my mom now shuns traveling on Christmas Eve. The rule is simple: you visit us at our place or we don't meet each other.

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7. Ashes To Ashes

My dad, who struggled with alcoholism for many years, unfortunately passed away from the addiction at the end of November, just before our Thanksgiving celebrations. Throughout December, we dedicated all our Christmas savings towards arranging his cremation. Should we fail to raise the necessary $2,000, his body would've been passed on to the county, where he would've been cremated alongside many other unclaimed bodies.

Thankfully, we gathered enough to pay for his cremation. So, our entire Christmas budget went towards this. It meant our Christmas gift was his ashes, which we placed gently beneath the tree.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

8. Back On The Chain Gang

During my second year in college, I hitched a ride back home with my friend and her boyfriend. She was on her way to introduce her boyfriend to her parents in Seattle, leaving me feeling like an outsider. Our ride began in Utah, with a pit stop in Pendleton, OR. My parents would pick me up there to take me the rest of the way home.

Traveling through Idaho was daunting, with gale winds and occasional ice patches on the plain, straight roads. When we arrived in La Grande, we could go no further as the pass was closed. Stranded at a gas station, I remembered that my aunt and uncle lived there. I quickly got their phone number from my dad and called them for help.

Though they were already hosting a slew of stranded college students, they managed to help us out. My uncle, who was managing the local Walmart, saved the last pair of chain tires that fit our car. Despite my aunt and me trying to convince my friend and her boyfriend to call it a night, they stubbornly decided to press forward. They believed that with the chains, we could safely pass. That's when things got messy.

However, once the pass to the mountain opened, her boyfriend only thought to attach the chains when we were overtaken by fast-moving semi-truck on the snowy roads. As if the dangerous Deadman's Pass wasn't enough, we realized none of us knew how to install the chains. 

After almost burying the car in the snow and spending about 45 minutes wrestling with the chains, we tied them too loosely on the tires. Not slowing down, the boyfriend sped, causing damage to the wheel wells. Exhausted, we managed to reach Pendleton at 4 AM, where my parents were ready to take me immediately back home.

If only the ordeal had ended there. The return journey was uneventful until we crossed the Utah border. As we were rounding a curve on a dark, deserted stretch of highway, we hit a large concrete block, causing a deafening noise. What ensued was absolute pandemonium.

We were not the only one. There were eight more cars with damaged tires from attempting to dodge the concrete. Our problem was worse as the car's undercarriage got dislodged and was now scraping the road.

We contacted the state patrol but after waiting for 40 minutes without help, we decided to limp ahead and managed to reach nearby Snowville. My friend's sister-in-law came to our rescue, picking us up and letting us stay over. The boy tried and failed to contact his dad in China, panicking about how he will react to the car's condition.

When I finally reached home and narrated the saga to my mom, her reaction was swift and final. She declared, "From now on, you're either flying home for winter or staying put at college!"

Holiday NightmaresPexels

9. Go For Broke

You know, my brother recently got a pair of rollerblades for Christmas and he's learned how to grind on them. He was eager to show me but, unfortunately, I got sidetracked and missed his stunt.

Determined to show me, my brother tried to replicate the trick and wound up breaking his arm. That landed us in the hospital for the rest of the day and then some. And the thing is, my family has somehow pinned this whole mess on me.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

10. Merry Mono Christmas

Back in early December, I was unwell with a pretty nasty bout of mono, which my ex-girlfriend passed on to me via a kiss—she'd just recovered from it, and I was in the dark about her being contagious. My road to recovery was not smooth, and required all sorts of medications. Unfortunately, my body didn't react as expected to one drug, triggering a nasty rash.

This troublesome rash initially appeared on my arms and legs before spreading almost everywhere else—chest, buttocks, name it. My hands, feet, eyelids, and lips were also affected. Morphing into a red, dense patchwork, it grew so intense that only small white areas remained amidst the red. By Christmas, about 95% of my body was plastered in this painful red rash.

Whether standing, sitting, or laying down, I was in constant pain due to this skin condition. My friends kept their distance, fearing that my unusual skin outbreak was a contagious disease, even though mono is only transmitted through saliva, and the rash was a side effect from the medication. This misunderstanding was deeply isolating during what should have been a festive time, and it also negatively impacted my exam period.

When my skin eventually cleared up, my buddies paid me a visit and brought along some alcohol. However, I had to refrain from any drinking, given my recent bout of mono and the rash ordeal. Adding to the woes, my doctor warned that the mono remained contagious for another six months, creating a potential risk for any potential kissing partner.

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11. Holiday Heartache

My dear grandma passed away around 2 AM on Christmas day. She'd spent about three months in the hospital due to a broken hip, undergoing multiple surgeries; it seemed her time had come. My mom was right by her side when she took her last breath, passing as peacefully as we could've wished for. Mom came back around 3 AM, and I was there to give her a comforting hug as she wept.

The rest of my family was still asleep and unaware of what had just happened. We both turned in for the night. When I woke up early the next morning, I found my younger brother, about 9 to 10 years old, joyously running around downstairs. Christmas morning excited him, and he remained oblivious to the grim news. As soon as he saw mom, his excitement peaked, expecting it was time for presents.

Unfortunately, mom had to bring him in on the heartbreaking news. She gently told him that grandma was no longer with us. Watching his blissful, excited expression of a child on a merry Christmas morning transform into a look of deep sorrow was one of the most heartbreaking experiences I've ever had. I still tear up every time I think about it.

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12. In A Jam

When I turned 15, my family and I embarked on a several hundred-mile journey to visit relatives during the holiday season. Midway through the trip, my intrusive thoughts got the best of me—I stuck my elbow in this small storage space, similar to where today's cars would have a passenger-side airbag. I got it in so tight that our only solution was to visit the closest hospital's emergency room. The clearly nervous nurse had to slick my arm with a lubricant just to free me.

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13. The Dog Did It

Just a few days before Christmas, we decided to enjoy a nice dinner out. Once we finished, we headed back home. When I unlocked and opened the front door, I noticed a small puddle of water in the entrance. I found this a bit strange, but I brushed it off thinking it might just be some melted snow. I didn't really sweat it. However, things took a turn when I opened the second door and heard a strange sound.

Upon entering, I was shocked to see water trickling down the walls and a thin layer of water, about a half-inch deep, covering the floor. Panicked, I splashed my way through the house in search of where the water was coming from. After some time, we finally realized the trouble was coming from upstairs, in the bathroom. We quickly turned off the pipes.

As it turns out, our mischievous dachshund had tried to go through the trash, accidentally toppling the bin over and perfectly cutting the toilet's water supply hose.

We estimated the water had been spraying around for about thirty minutes before we arrived home. Luckily, the damage was less severe than we anticipated, as most of the water found its way to parts of the house with linoleum flooring. Nevertheless, cleaning up half the house right before Christmas wasn't exactly our idea of holiday fun.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Chris Kelly

14. Relax, It’s All Under Control

One Christmas Eve, I was struck by severe stomach cramps that left me unable to move or leave my bed. To prevent me from missing out on the celebration, my mother gave me a few potent muscle relaxers. I attempted to help bring in the gifts but I wound up tripping over and falling into the snow. This resulted in an absurd scene with me rolling around in the snow and wrecking the gifts I was holding.

Once back indoors, I indulged in several glasses of wine and found myself engaging every relative in conversation about all sorts of improper topics. Eventually, my uncle realized what was happening and made sure to keep my wild chatter in check. I was closely monitored for the rest of the night.

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15. Go With The Flow

When I was around eight years old, my mother brought home our Christmas tree. She left me with my sister and told me, "Sweetie, I'll be back with the decorations, please be kind to your sister." In the meantime, I went to the bathroom and a brilliant idea crossed my mind.

In the bathroom, I discovered a box full of white items. Not knowing what they were, I assumed that the strings at their ends must be for tree decorations. Without any hesitation, I grabbed all the items from the box—which we now know were tampons—and used them to decorate the Christmas tree. Well, you can probably guess what happened when mom came back. She was totally stunned, to say the least.

Holiday NightmaresFreepik, cookie_studio

16. Holiday Heist

Let me tell you about my worst Christmas ever: someone burgled our home and took all our belongings while we were away. They swiped everything—from the gifts, home furnishings and televisions to our precious jewelry and cherished family mementos. 

There was absolutely nothing left—neither a spot to sit, nor gifts to share, or even a Christmas tree. I was just a child of 10 then, and found the situation to be really upsetting. That incident soured my view of Christmas for some time.

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17. Left Gutted For Christmas

One Christmas Eve when I was little, my dad was away for work, leaving just me, my mom, my brother and sister at home. I was playing with a gift from my uncle, a half-dollar, when my mom was changing my diaper. Suddenly, the coin went from my hands and headed directly towards my mouth. I tried to swallow it, and it got stuck.

My elder brother, about 7 or 8, was frantically calling emergency services while my mom performed the Heimlich maneuver on me. Thank goodness, the coin came out, along with most of my dinner. Crisis averted, my mom tucked us into bed. But the ordeal wasn't done yet.

She eventually went to sleep as well, only to awaken to a noise that sounded like thunder. Seeing nothing outside her window, she went back to sleep. But soon, she awoke to the horrifying sight of flames bursting through her bedroom window. The smoke alarms were silent. In a hurry, she woke us kids up, bundled me in a blanket and dashed for the door. We lived in a duplex, and she made sure to alert the neighbours as well.

We made it to a friend's house down the street and promptly called for help. As we waited there, my mom nervously awaited the arrival of the fire department. When they arrived, they asked for her car keys to move it away from the now fully-blazing house. She told them about our dog in the kitchen, who they successfully rescued.

The fire was eventually put out, but our home was a total loss. All we had left was the clothes on our backs, teddy bears gifted to us by the firemen, and a small amount of cash, as banks were closed for the weekend. Once my dad got home, life went on. My siblings returned to school on Monday, and I went to my babysitter's. 

When my mom came to collect me, my sitter gave her an envelope labeled, "Merry Christmas". Inside were ten brand new $100 bills, enough for a hotel and other immediate needs until we could visit the bank to figure things out.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Los Angeles Fire Department

18. I Took A Bite Out Of Christmas

When I was just a kid—around 9 years old—it was Christmas morning and I was super excited to unbox my gifts. I remember joyfully dashing into my parents' bedroom, but suddenly, I tripped over a sneaky little rug, and wham—my teeth collided with the edge of my parents' bedpost. My mouth turned into a mini Red Sea. I lost a tooth that day and also cracked one of my permanent incisors.

A specialist had to come and check me out, but with it being Christmas, I ended up waiting for six agonizing hours at the hospital. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to open any of my gifts. Even my Christmas feast had to be slurped up through a straw! We've kept that bedpost though, it's hard to miss it with three unmistakable teeth imprints on it.

Holiday NightmaresPicryl

19. He Got His Rocks Off

When I was a kid, we had this family custom where we started setting up Christmas presents beneath the tree at the start of December. One year, my brother slipped a smallish gift box under the tree, labeled with my name. For the whole month, I kept guessing what this spectacular gift could be. A few times, I gave it a little shake and heard something rattling inside, which made me believe it was small but precious.

Finally, it was Christmas day – the day to unveil the mystery! I bolted towards that gift, tore apart the wrapping, lifted the lid, only to find it was packed with stones! I'd never heard my brother laugh that much before. Boy, were our parents fuming! So much so that he ended up stepping out and getting me a gigantic bag of sweets to make up for his prank.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

20. A Nightmare For Christmas

When I was seven years old, my dad presented me with The Nightmare Before Christmas board game as my grand finale Christmas gift. Usually, my dad gave presents that he himself would enjoy and was really thrilled about me opening this one so we could play together. However, I was unfamiliar with the game. Its spooky appearance frightened me, so I told him that I didn't want to play it.

This news made him very upset, chiefly since he had invested a lot in the game and insisted we should play it. And then, things took a worse turn. He inserted the VCR tutorial to make us understand how cool the game was, but instead, the initial lightning bolt scene terrified me, making me rush to the bathroom. I spent the entire Christmas day hiding and crying in the bathroom, desperately not wanting to play this scary game. Meanwhile, my dad mocked me from outside, yelling and making fun of my fear.

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21. Soup’s On!

A few Christmases back, my family gathered for our annual festive meal. My beloved 85-year-old grandma, whose memory was starting to falter, insisted that my usual spot was her seat. To keep the holiday spirit alive, I shifted down next to my sister. As we tucked into the soup course, my sister—who'd witnessed the seat shuffle—teased, “It’s rare that I get to sit beside you, how lovely.”

Her remarks sent me into a fit of laughter. The timing was unfortunate, I had a mouthful of soup. Now, I was left with two options: swallow the soup or splatter it on my family. I decided to brave swallowing. To my shock, the pain that ensued was enormous, it felt as if I was enveloped by a wave of darkness. When I became aware again, I was face-planted in my soup amidst the frantic voices.

My mom was attempting the Heimlich, my wife was in tears, my sister was debating calling an ambulance out loud, while the rest were frozen in shock. Except for my grandma, that is. Unfazed by the chaos, she continued to quietly enjoy her soup.

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22. Sister Scrooge

After a series of grueling all-night study sessions and a tough finals week, I was back home, working at my retail job. More sleepless shifts followed, leading to a severe flu on Christmas Eve. I suffered through the next day, tossing and turning in bed, alternating my time between hurling in the shower and collapsing on the floor. But, believe it or not, that wasn't the hardest bit.

As I was fighting through my sickness, my unsympathetic older sister kept nagging. She argued that I didn't earn a spot at a nice holiday dinner, or the right to receive gifts. Throughout the day, she kept picking fights with me, all while I could barely manage to eat or stand up.

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23. No More Night Driving

I came back for the holidays from California, devoting the two days leading up to Christmas frantically baking for my family. On Christmas Eve, I had a plan to pick up a friend from the internet who was studying music recording in Alabama. He was a Japanese student. The plan went smoothly and we were on our way back through a deserted four-lane road with no divider in-between.

Suddenly, I found myself in an ambulance. A drunk driver, driving at 85 mph, had crashed into my car headfirst. Unfortunately, they didn't survive the crash. I was fortunate to be alive, but suffered serious injuries. I broke my hip and elbow terribly, fractured eight ribs, had one lung punctured and collapsed, damaged the top of my knee and severely injured my tongue to the point that I couldn't eat for a month.

I spent two weeks in hospital and a week undergoing rehab. It took me a good five months to recover enough to return to California. That Christmas is largely a blank in my memory, and to this day, I have a fear of driving at night during that time of year.

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24. Cut Loose On Christmas

My aunt, who recently got out of prison, and her boyfriend, were temporarily staying with us since she was not quite stable yet. An argument broke out between her and her boyfriend, which resulted her boyfriend leaving. Another incident happened and she lost her cool with my mom. That's when things got serious.

She was so mad that she threatened to harm my mom while we were asleep. As a precaution, my dad quickly gathered every piece of silverware and hid them in their room, spoons included. Eventually, we had to involve law enforcement. My aunt pleaded not to be taken, but my mom had reached her limit and needed to maintain the safety of our home.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Timothy Krause

25. Yuletide Tragedy

A few years back, my mom's soon-to-be-husband was supposed to drive over for Christmas Eve. The weather was snowy that evening, and news of a road accident was circulating on the TV. However, we didn't connect the dots at the time. Their absence became increasingly strange and then, a few hours later, we got the dreaded phone call revealing the horrifying truth.

In the car with my mom's fiance were his 26-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, with the son behind the wheel. A collision happened when an elderly couple strayed onto the wrong side of the road. Tragically, the father and his young daughter lost their lives; only the son made it through. This made for a sorrowful Christmas season.

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26. Midnight Miracles

When I was just 4 years old, a crisis struck our home on Christmas Eve. After we had all been tucked into bed, my sister—a newborn of only one month—started having difficulty breathing. She had to be immediately taken to the hospital. With no time to spare, my parents quickly left to be by her side, but they hadn't gotten around to wrapping any of the presents. 

And that's when my dear aunt and uncle stepped in. They showed up and took charge of wrapping all the gifts, a task they tackled in the middle of the night. By the time morning came around, the health of my tiny sister had stabilized somewhat. This allowed dad to stop by home and help us kids open the presents, while mom kept her loving watch at the hospital.

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27. A Near Miss

On Christmas Eve, I found myself driving at a speed of 50 mph on a winding road. Suddenly, a drunken driver appeared, driving at the same speed but in my lane. Miraculously, I managed to sway my car onto the road's shoulder, which was just wide enough to accommodate my car. 

I had a close call with the rude driver, my car precisely fitting between his large SUV and the safety rail. After reaching home, I shared the nerve-wracking incident with my mom. We embraced each other and shed some tears, shaken by the near miss. Gratefully, that's the most horrifying event I've ever experienced on Christmas.

Holiday NightmaresFreepik, valuavitaly

28. Big Brother To The Rescue

When I was about 10, my mom had a change in her usual routine and was unexpectedly absent for four days just before Christmas. By then, I was already in on the Santa secret and tried my best to reassure my little brothers. I confidently told them that she wouldn't miss Christmas. However, she was still missing two days before Christmas, leaving me with a big issue—I couldn't locate where she hid our Christmas gifts.

I thought maybe she didn't buy any, so I collected all my savings to buy my brothers some small gifts from the dollar store. On Christmas Eve, mom finally came back, got out the presents, and promptly crashed on the sofa. The next day, my brothers woke up to see mom "resting" and their presents under the tree.

They quickly realized I didn't have any gifts to open. My not-so-little brother questioned, "Where are your gifts?” I replied, "Well, I guess I must've misbehaved too much this year to get any". Then, he gave me some hope saying, "Maybe you'll get double gifts for your birthday this year", which happened to be on the same day. But unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, VFW National Home

29. That M&Ms Feeling

When I was about 10 years old, my grandma stayed with us for a few months to lend my parents a hand. My seven-year-old brother and I had to bunk on the couch in the living room. It was nearing Christmas, and us being kids, we had an early bedtime. Grandma had given us a treat of Christmas M&M's and we began sharing silly jokes, which led to fits of laughter. 

As we lay there, munching on M&M’s and giggling, one of the candies got stuck in my throat, blocking my airway. My brother initially thought I was joking and just laughed harder. But when he saw my face turning purple, he shouted for our parents. My dad rushed over and quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, and out flew the M&M. Afterwards, they lectured me for 15 minutes about acting responsibly.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Victor

30. To The Land Of Ice And Snow

After returning to America from Iraq, I spent a little time in Georgia before heading to my home in Iowa for Christmas. I arrived at Moline Airport one afternoon, when the temperature was hovering around the mid-20s. The coldness of Iowa was starkly different from the heat of Iraq, as expected. As my mother drove us home, I noticed a thick layer of snow blanketing the landscape. However, something unexpected happened next.

By that evening, the air started warming up significantly. The temperature rose to above 40℉ by 8 PM, and then even further to 50℉ by 10 PM. By the time midnight came around, it had reached a whopping 60℉. As expected, the vast spread of snow almost entirely melted away under this sudden heat. 

But then, the weather did a complete backtrack. The temperature took a nosedive and returned to mid-20s, like when I had first landed. The entire eastern half of Iowa seemed to have exchanged its snow coat for an icy one.

Adding to this icy layer, it began to sleet, which then transformed into snowfall. Frustrated by this dramatic weather flip-flop, I made a mental note to avoid flying back to Iowa near Christmas in the future. What a bizzare encounter with the elements!

Holiday NightmaresPexels

31. Christmas Was In The Bag

When I was a little kid, my immediate family and I moved to Georgia, leaving our relatives behind in Nebraska. So, every year, we'd pack up our stuff and brace ourselves for a grueling 17-hour road trip, sprinkled with a dash of "holiday spirit". One particular year, we squeezed five people into a Jeep—three kids and two parents—and managed to strap the luggage on top. As everyone else dozed off, save for the one driving, I found myself wide awake, drinking in the sights around me.

Suddenly, it began to 'rain' luggage from the sky, which was strange but I convinced myself that perhaps it was Santa's sleigh dropping gifts unexpectedly. Our journey continued uninterrupted until it was time to refuel. That's when my parents realized that the luggage was gone. Baffling as it was, we decided to retrace our steps, making pit stops to inquire if anyone had seen our lost luggage.

Finally, on the morning of Christmas Eve, a kind-hearted trucker led us to our lost luggage that was dumped on a frozen icy puddle beside the highway. After securing it back onto our Jeep, we set off again and reached Nebraska around 8 in the morning. My weary parents then spent the next few hours drying all our stuff.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

32. The Gift That Kept On Giving

One Christmas, our family experienced what we've since dubbed the "bathroom flu". It was a relentless 36 hours of throwing up and diarrhea. Our holiday ordeal began when our 1-year-old fell ill right after our work holiday party, leaving us tired and drained when it all kicked off.

Once our youngster was back on their feet, my wife was next in line. With her complexion turning a worrying shade of gray, we toyed with the idea of a hospital visit. My parents came over to babysit while I took care of my wife.

In a stroke of luck, my parents arrived just as I was losing my lunch in the restroom. By then, my wife was finally able to tolerate some food. But we weren't out of the woods yet. My parents and my wife's friend caught the bug next, with her friend unintentionally sharing the ailment with her entire church pew. My mother-in-law, unfortunately, spent the entire Christmas holiday vacillating between our couch and the bathroom.

Lastly, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, newly cohabiting, were hit as well. The boyfriend had a particularly rough time, resorting to a trash bin as a makeshift bucket while having an accident in his pants, as his girlfriend occupied their solitary bathroom.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Shane Adams

33. A Holiday Horror Movie Classic

Remember that one holiday season, my dad, my brother, and I headed to the supermarket on the eve of Christmas? Our mission was to grab a turkey for the next day's feast. We were driving back in my dad's brand new Lexus, which he had proudly acquired just a few weeks prior.

Out of nowhere, a rogue deer jumped straight from the ditch into our path, crashing into the center of our windshield. The windshield absorbed most of the impact, causing parts of the deer—an antler and a leg—to burst through and get lodged in the windshield.

Thankfully, we all escaped injury. However, we were confronted with a terrified, struggling deer, continually hurting itself with every frenzied movement. With no real solution at hand, we could do nothing but wait for the poor creature to stop its struggle. After a while, it did, and that's when my brother and dad carefully removed it from the windshield. 

Meanwhile, inside the car, every inch of the dashboard, every corner and crevice, was drenched in a disturbing layer of dark blood. Sadly, we were also covered in it. Our otherwise normal holiday started to resemble a scene straight out of a horror flick. Needless to say, my mom wasn't thrilled when she found out.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Images by John

34. The Dog Ate Our Dinner

My mom spent a good ten minutes running after our overjoyed dog in the garden. Why? Well, he'd swiped the turkey right off the kitchen counter. From our window, we watched her finally outsmart the dog to reclaim most of the turkey. What happened next is something I won't soon forget. 

She went indoors and began rinsing it under the tap. My dad and I were both like, no way! So, that year, our meal consisted of stuffing, vegetables, puddings, and chipolata sausages for the meat component. In the end, the dog got to enjoy the turkey after all.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, geckoam

35. One Last Time Together

The last I saw of my mother was during Christmas of 2001. I was sixteen and a mom myself, to a three-month-old baby. My mother, however, was in a bad state that morning; restless and not looking well. Amidst the unwieldy celebration with my younger siblings, grandmother, and my mom's ex-husband, things felt uncomfortable. 

Mom was clearly not herself. She crashed on the upstairs couch soon after everyone was done unwrapping presents. I then left the house to join my father's side of the family. That was my last in-person memory of her.

A few days later, on New Year's Eve, she unexpectedly called to give me a heart-to-heart about standing up for myself and showing strength. Overlooking this unusual behavior, I pressed on with my plans for the evening, which simply meant nursing my baby at home. The next day, she tragically ended her own life.

When I returned to her house after receiving the dreadful news, the remnants of our Christmas celebration were still present. There was the Christmas tree, still adorned with decorations; torn gift wraps littered all over; the turkey leftovers on the countertop; and our dirty dishes. Upstairs on the couch lay her body—exactly where I had last seen her.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

36. Season Of Sadness

It was one winter's night in December, and I was an 8-year-old boy, full and sleepy from our family's all-time favorite, homemade chicken chalupas. Despite my eyes begging to close, I was still brimming with anticipation for the upcoming school day, for every day was a tiny step closer to Christmas! As I drifted off into a deep sleep, visions of shiny Pokémon cards and gadgets filled my dreams.

After just a couple of hours, I was abruptly shaken out of my dreams. A fireman was there, lighting up my room with the harsh red and white flashing lights. Instantly, I felt a wave of panic—I was thinking our home was ablaze. He scooped me up, gripping my beloved teddy bear, bear-bear, with a firm assurance that everything would be alright.

Outside was a sea of uniform-clad figures including firemen, officers, and what I later understood were special investigators, owing to my father's service. I was gently led to my neighbors', my good ol' friend's home. My friend greeted me with gusto, and we dove into a session of Super Smash Bros on his N64. On any normal day, staying up late on a school night playing video games would be a treat, and that night, I was all in.

About an hour into our game, his mom walked in and intercepted my friend, mentioning that my mom needed to speak to me. The room suddenly became eerily silent and dark. I found myself sitting on the lower bunk of a room, the only light being silvery moonbeams piercing the window, reminding me of the usual chilly Arizona nights. Slowly, my mom entered, her demeanor quiet and somber.

And then she broke the dreadful news. She sat beside me, her eyes sore and tear-inflated, her nose a shade of bright red. “Your daddy's no more," she whispered. I was speechless. I didn’t get it. My mind was swimming with thoughts. He was here only a few hours back. He had a taxing job, and sure, he seemed a little off, but he was here, watching TV post-dinner. He had his signature cigar and wine out in the porch.

The very night, I had hugged him close and he promised me a rollerblading session the very next day. And now, he was gone? My mom explained, “Daddy was dealing with sadness and he hurt himself. He passed away an hour ago.” 

She tried to touch my hand and I noticed her sleeve stained with blood—my father's blood. He had ended his life with a gunshot behind his right ear that night. It was the same night we had lit up our Christmas tree. I hadn’t celebrated Christmas since then until this year.

Holiday NightmaresFreepik, Drazen Zigic

37. Christmas Was A Smash

My stepmom had walked out on my dad in November. I didn't like her much, so I wasn't exactly sad about it, but my dad and little brother, they adored her. It broke their hearts. Even though we were all feeling low, we still attempted to greet the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving by putting up a tree. As we set out our festive decorations, we hoped to lighten the melancholy air.

It was my dad who picked up the first ornament, a colorful glass ball, and tossed it against the wall. It exploded on impact. My brother and I just stood there, frozen, as he continued to throw each ornament—whether they were made of fragile glass or handcrafted by us. 

After the last ornament was smashed, he shuffled over to the sofa, sunk into it and cried, while continuing to throw whatever ornaments were left within his reach. We quietly exited the room, without exchanging a single word. 

My dad insisted on dealing with the mess himself, and it wasn't until much later, in January, while we were visiting our grandparents, that he finally cleaned it up. Since that time, I've found it difficult to feel any joy during Christmas.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

38. A Half-Baked Idea

As a kid, I craved a Nintendo just like all my buddies did. As the holiday season approached, all I could daydream about was conquering different game levels. I was clueless about what these levels would be, yet I was already crafting strategies in my mind. One sleepless night, I decided to investigate around the Christmas tree.

Hidden behind the sofa, I found this huge box shrouded in a garbage bag. At that point, I thought, "This must be it. My turn to finally play Nintendo!" Fast forward to five hours later, with everyone gathered around the tree and all the presents unwrapped. My parents always kept one major present as a finale. My father appeared, presenting this sleek bike for my brother.

At that moment, my thoughts were focused: "Please let it be a Nintendo!" My mother then handed me this massive box I had seen earlier. In my enthusiastic frenzy, I ripped open the wrapping and the garbage bag covering the box, yearning to see Mario's familiar face, but was met instead with a shocking surprise. The box was adorned with splashes of pink. I found myself bewildered, thinking "What on earth is this?"

Once all the packing was gone, I found myself staring at an Easy Bake Oven. My exclamation "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and the accompanying look of dread on my face is still a source of amusement for my family. 

They laugh about it, but for me, it was catastrophic. It turns out my mom wanted to nurture my culinary skills and thought this would be an ideal gift. The most tormenting part of this whole saga was enduring three months of hearing my friends brag about their gaming adventures on their Nintendos.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

39. Oy, Vey!

When my granddad was just a boy, his mom and her folks fled from Hungary to escape the violent pogroms, landing safely in Philadelphia. Eventually, his great-grandfather tied the knot with his great-grandmother's best pal – who was only 15. Overwhelmed by the bizarre idea of addressing her best buddy as 'mother,' their daughter (my great-grandmother) hightailed it out of Philly, bound for the bustling streets of New York. She also decided to switch up her surname from Friedkin to Fredericks.

On her own at 14, she felt her Jewish identity was too risky. In time, she wed an Anglican man. However, she was adamant about her kids being raised as true-blue Americans and felt Baptist, in her mind, was the most 'American' of religions. And so, her kids were raised in the Baptist faith. Yet, she committed one gigantic gaffe—she named her daughter Sadie.

When Sadie hit her mid-teens, she decided that her name was "overly Jewish", and chose to re-christen herself Sarah, making my granddad, her brother, swear to maintain her secret. Fast forward many decades, after Sadie/Sarah had passed on, my granddad, a man renowned for his wry humor, chose a Christmas gathering as the backdrop to drop the bombshell: that we were, in all actuality, Jewish.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, OakleyOriginals

40. I Was A Mega Blokhead

Christmas rolled around and all I wanted was a LEGO City set, but instead, what did I find under the tree? A space-themed Mega Bloks set. Not only did I have no love for Mega Bloks, but space was also not my thing at all. My story could've ended there, but fate had further disappointment in store. The box was almost impossible to open, and every time I tried removing the tape, it just frayed.

My frustration heightened, and I decided to fetch a steak knife from the kitchen to tackle the stubborn tape. Picture this: an 8-year-old, whose coordination and reasoning skills are far from perfect, attempting to cut the tape with the blade pointing upwards. Just as I thought I was making progress, things took a wrong turn—the knife slipped under the tension, and ended up hitting directly on my left eye.

You'd think that was bad enough, but to make things worse, my parents didn't believe me as there was no visible bleeding.

Eventually, my dad decided to check out what happened and instantly recognized that something was amiss. Subsequently, we all ended up in the ER. So, there you have it—the tale of an 8-year-old accidentally stabbing himself in the eye while attempting to unwrap an unwanted Mega Bloks space set.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

41. Ice, Ice, Baby

A few years back, I made a choice to journey home for Christmas from Ohio to Kansas, accompanied by my two furry pals. During our trip, we stopped for a bite to eat. As I tried to exit my car, I slipped on black ice, banging my nose against the car door. Due to the icy conditions, we were stranded on the highway for a lengthy five hours. Opting for a change of scenery, I decided to venture down an unexplored side road.

About a quarter hour into this new route, I had been tailing a car when they abruptly executed a U-turn. Upon reaching the spot, I was confronted by a daunting hill blanketed in black ice, with around ten scattered, ditch-bound cars. There was no option but to keep moving forward. An hour later, I successfully navigated to the hill's peak. A fellow driver, a young man, and I agreed to collaboratively navigate the remaining 20 country miles since turning back was out of the question.

Tow trucks slid into ditches, and it seemed inevitable we'd be spending the night in our cars out in the rural expanse. Along with this, my gas tank was running on fumes and my partially shocked pups were dead silent. We removed our license plates and improvised shovels using them and our bare hands to clear a path, scattering a blend of gravel and ice on the road to provide some traction. Our cell phones served as torches under the biting cold of the freezing rain.

After a grueling four-hour struggle, we reached the highway, bidding each other farewell. A clean highway laid ahead and despite the need to rest, I had to persist or risk missing what turned out to be my grandpa's final Christmas. Upon arrival at my parents' place, we immediately embarked on another two-hour drive to my grandparents' home, only to depart three hours afterwards. Considering everything, I endured a 36-hour drive, nursing a battered nose, but I made it!

Holiday NightmaresFreepik, wayhomestudio

42. A Time To Remember

My dad unexpectedly passed away due to a severe heart attack only three days after Christmas. For 15 long minutes, I was trying desperately to resuscitate him until the paramedics finally arrived, only to declare that he had left us. That was the toughest Christmas I've ever had, and it still haunts me. 

This year, I attempted to craft an ideal Christmas for my little ones. However, managing my emotions while handling the Christmas lights, a task my dad used to assist with, and recalling that dreadful year was causing me some scary dreams. It's a shame because I have a deep affection for Christmas, but this time, I was preparing myself for a challenging holiday.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

43. A Croupy Christmas

Just five days before Christmas, I began to notice a sore throat creeping in. I didn't give it much thought as I frequently got strep infections before I had my tonsils taken out. However, my condition worsened; I steadily lost my voice, yet I still didn't take it too seriously. Christmas morning arrived, and I woke up struggling to breathe with excruciating throat pain making eating and drinking unbearable.

At this point, my parents insisted on taking me to the hospital. There, I was diagnosed with the croup virus, which was causing my airway to dangerously narrow. They tried to alleviate my condition with a breathing treatment, but it didn't prove effective. It was only after administering steroids that my condition began improving. 

So, there I was, lying in a hospital bed, breathing through a steam-filled tube on Christmas morning. The doctor's words hit me: had I not received treatment, I wouldn't have woken up the next day. It’s chilling to realize my lack of attention to my own health nearly cost me my life.

Holiday NightmaresWikimedia Commons, Flickr: Inauguración de nuevo edificio del Hospital Luis Calvo Mackenna

44. Off To Grandma’s House We Go

This past Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a Sega Genesis. From the moment I unwrapped it, I was hooked but barely got thirty minutes with it before we had to saddle up to visit Grandma. Now, there's not a single kid of ten who would pick a trip to Grandma's over diving into a fresh, untouched video game system. Be that as it may, we spent our entire day at her place. Hours slowly passed by, but finally, it was time to leave.

As we prepared to head home, we made a notable realization—the snow was coming down pretty heavily. Our house was just a quick 20-minute drive, and I was keen to get back to my Genesis. However, when we were about halfway, my father began to struggle with driving in the snow. We were recent transplants to the area, unfamiliar with snow driving and ill-equipped for it. Sooner than we expected, we got stuck at the bottom of a steep hill.

With no other option, we found ourselves trudging almost a mile to the home of someone we barely knew. They kindly took us in for the night, but sleep was far from my mind. All I could think about was my brand-new Sega Genesis, unattended and untouched at home—an unbearable thought.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Dru Kelly

45. He Put The “X” In Xmas

My mom passed away in the late summer of 2006. As Christmas approached, I was mindful that it would be challenging for all, since this holiday season was something my mom absolutely loved. 

So, to add a unique twist, I decided to purchase some edgy adult-themed items for everyone, meticulously packed in boxes of various shapes and sizes. On Christmas day, everyone discovered gifts loaded with "Black Tail" and "Barely Legal".

At the moment, it seemed quite unconventional, but as time passed it became a kind of legend. Now everyone calls it "the Christmas when Ryan gifted everyone risqué films", just as I had expected.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, Alan Cleaver

46. What In The Ham Happened?

One Christmas morning, when I was just six, and my older sister and brother were 16 and 14, we were put to a test. Our parents left us to bake cookies for three hours, while they ran some errands. This included keeping an eye on the oven with the ham, so it wouldn't catch fire. It was my first time baking and, honestly, it was a bit of a disaster.

I got so messy with cookie dough all over my face and hair that my sister had to clean me up. She put me on the bathroom counter and helped me scrub it all off. Meanwhile, my brother took over the baking. Once I was presentable again, my siblings went off to play Final Fantasy 7 on the PlayStation, while I cozied up on the couch. I was enveloped by the heartwarming aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg and, before I knew it, I had dozed off. Big mistake indeed.

I don't know how much time passed, but I was jolted awake by the fire alarms blaring and my siblings shouting. There was confusion, a scramble for the fire extinguisher, and I jumped into action, trying to fill a pail with water from the bathroom sink. But being too small, I couldn't reach it. Suddenly, amidst a loud hiss, my sister scooped me up and rushed me out of the house.

Once outside, I asked what was happening and my brother stated plainly that we were in trouble. Tears began to fall. It wasn't too long after that our parents returned home to the scene. I was just relieved that I wasn't punished and, more importantly, that the house was still standing.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, State Farm

47. Touched By An Angel

During one special Christmas, my siblings and I were having a blast unwrapping presents. Mom was sitting cozily on the sofa and Dad was capturing the moment on camera. Centrally located and crackling away was our wood-burning stove, serving as the main heat source in our living room. Even though it was fairly hot, there was no barrier or rail to prevent someone from accidentally touching it.

The scene was picture-perfect until chaos hit. My little sister, still a newbie at walking, often needed to hold onto things to keep her balance. Just as we were tearing into our gifts, out of nowhere, we heard a shriek. My sister, needing something to hold onto, had unfortunately chosen the stove. The image of her hands covered in large, healing blisters is still fresh in my mind.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

48. He Got His Rocks Off

Back when I was younger, our family had this lovely Christmas ritual where we would position all our Xmas presents under the tree right at the start of December. One festive season, my brother sneaked in a small gift box under the tree, labeling it with my name. 

My excitement built up throughout December, believing it had to be an exceptional surprise. Curiously, I would give it an occasional shake and hear something jiggle inside, making me believe it was an exquisite miniature treasure. But when Christmad Day arrived, my excitement was crushed.

Obviously, that little box was the first thing I sprinted towards. Excitedly, I tore open the wrapping paper, yanked the lid off, and was met with a box full of stones. The laughter from my brother at that instant was unlike anything I had heard before. My parents were so irked by his prank that they made him run out and replace the joke gift with a massive sack of sweets.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

49. Time Was Ticking

A few years back, my grandma chose Thanksgiving Day to walk down the aisle, so we all headed to Arizona for the festivities. The celebration lineup included a family horse ride. Oddly enough, a tick hitched a ride on my horse and found its way into my jeans, and subsequently into my skin. Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worse on the night of December 23rd when I experienced a heart-related incident. As a result, I hit my head against a wall and a painting, which landed me in the ER with countless needles for company.

In an unexpected twist, the tick was a carrier of Lyme disease, a possibility no one thought of, given the tick-free winters where I lived.

Holiday NightmaresFlickr, John Tann

50. A Holiday Escape Plan

On Christmas Eve, my spouse had too much to drink and was making a scene in the basement, crying and shouting. As I sat upstairs with our kids, engulfed in Christmas movies, I attempted to shield them from the distressing sounds from downstairs. Our marriage was on its last legs due to his alcoholism. Although I wanted to leave, it seemed impossible with our children, no financial security, and my family living in another part of the country.

Out of nowhere, a loud crash caught our attention. He had tripped and hit his head on the stairs. I aided him up the two flights to our room with our children watching their mother once again carry their father who was far from sober. The following morning, he was again arguing with me despite still being somewhat intoxicated. His true colors shone through when he falsely rang emergency services, pinning me as the culprit of his injuries after claiming I'd hurled a shoe at him.

In reality, it was his fall that had caused his injuries. Fear washed over me, though I hadn't laid a hand on him. The authorities arrived, quickly understanding his state of intoxication. After speaking with the kids, they concluded that I was innocent. His excuse for this apparent payback act was a previous instance where I'd called authorities out of fear during one of his episodes.

Even then, they didn't force him to leave. I put on a brave face for my children, ensuring they had a pleasant Christmas, while in the background, I planned my exit. In a few months, I finally managed to get away, returning to the comfort of my friends and family who cared about me.

Holiday NightmaresPexels

Sources: Reddit,


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