We asked you, readers, to send in holiday fiasco memories that bring a smile to your face now, but weren’t so funny at the time. You did not disappoint. Enjoy.
The Winner: A tragic hairdo
When I was 15 and our church party was near I longed for something new to wear. But there wasn’t much money for extras. My cousin Lucille from Monroe was a funny person with a great sense of humor. We were sitting in the living room talking about Christmas. She jumped up from her chair and said, “I’m taking you shopping for something new to wear, but first I need to make a call to the Court Arcade Beauty shop (across from the courthouse) where my friend will give you a hairdo.”
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We arrived at the shop and her friend Jane came out and took me back. I sat down in a room with what looked like an electric chair. This perm was the latest in hair-styling science. She began to put lotion in my hair that smelled like rotten eggs and preceded to hook my hair to the electric curlers with all these wires hanging down. After awhile I could smell something like singed hair. I said, “Please God, don’t let my hair catch on fire.” When she turned the machine off and unrolled my hair, I could hardly wait to see it. When I looked in the mirror my hair was a horrible sight. At home, Mom said, “Oh my Lord,” and Dad said, “You look just like a Brillo pad.”
I cried for two days, but Mom persuaded me to go to the Christmas party anyway – and I had a great time. After all, Christmas means more than a hairdo gone bad. Lucille passed away several years ago, but I always think of her generosity during the Christmas season.
Barbara Bell Kerr, Charlotte
Cricket gets locked up
We drove to a family Christmas in Ohio leaving enough food, water and litter for our cat, Cricket – she would be fine for a few days.
Five days later, I walked in and heard plaintive wailing coming from behind the closed door of the upstairs bonus room. When I opened the door, a black streak shot out. I found Cricket hunched over the toilet drinking water like a camel. She had been closed upstairs the whole time with no food, water or litter box!
I prepared myself to find a ruined carpet that would have to be replaced, but there were no puddles or piles! I soon found the reason: Cricket had pried the lid off the plastic bin where we kept the dry dog food, had taken out some of the food to eat, and had used the rest of the dog food as a litter box!
Cricket has been gone for years, but she will always remain the Best Kitty Ever in our memories!
Linda Ramge, Indian Land, S.C.
What’s that crawling down the tree?
About 20 years ago, while living in Pennsylvania, my husband, our daughters and I thought it would be fun to go to a tree farm in the mountains and chop down our own Christmas tree. After much searching we found our “perfect” tree. After hauling it indoors and setting it in the stand, it began to thaw. As we stood back to admire its beauty we noticed movement in the branches. Then the hysterical screaming started. SPIDERS!!! Thousands of them crawling down the branches and trunk toward us! We could not get that tree out of the house fast enough.
We enjoyed a lovely artificial Christmas tree that year, and many to follow. Wishing all the good people of Charlotte a very Merry and spider-free Christmas.
Marla Pegarella, Mooresville
The dreaded holiday bug
A Christmas in the late 1990s – our family of four traveled up to Parma, Ohio, to spend it with my relatives. One of my nieces came down with a stomach bug and my mother was insistent that everyone attend Christmas Eve dinner. With parents, children and grandchildren we had over 25 people. She came and was put into one of the bedrooms for the evening. Within 48 hours – 25-plus people had that stomach bug, some worse than others, and within a few days after that it spread to more relatives we saw on Christmas Day. The gift that kept on giving!!
Lisa Robinson, Harrisburg
Spam fills the place of ham
Our family fiasco came about 30 years ago. We had visited Virginia earlier in December and bought a smoked ham at a farmers market, where they told us to soak it before cooking. A few days before Christmas, my mother-in-law soaked the ham, soaked it, and soaked it some more.
Christmas morning we prepared for the feast, and I asked my father to cut the ham. He said it smelled funny. He tasted it: This doesn’t taste right. A few more bites and we tossed it.
We had no main course, and nothing was open. I went through my pantry and found two cans of Spam. I took them out of the can, put some brown sugar and cloves on them and heated in the oven.
As we sat down for dinner and my father said the blessing, I began to cry realizing it wasn’t about the meal it was about family. My mom said she never had Spam before and said it was pretty good. The memories made that day continue today. Every Christmas for the last 30 years I am asked where is the Spam. One day they may just see it on the table.
Marcia Krishart, Mount Holly
Drooper eats a present
My holiday story is about my wonderful, mischievous, overweight Bassett Hound named Drooper. Our Christmas tree was beautifully decorated, complete with many wrapped gifts. On Christmas Eve after our teenage boys had been to a neighborhood party, I awoke to my son Howie saying, “This is the worst think you’ve ever done.” Drooper had found a box under the tree that contained 5 pounds of Russell Stover chocolate candy from my husband’s aunts. There she sat, in a sea of torn papers. She had eaten most of the contents, including the brown candy wrappers. There she sat, with her guilty “I’m sorry” look that Bassett Hounds do so well. She didn’t eat for several days, needless to say, but recovered and lived to the ripe old age of 14.
Judith White, Charlotte
Up goes the cat, down comes the tree
This was in the early 1950s when the lights on Christmas trees were wired in series, meaning one bulb blows and they all go out. I am 8 years older than my brother and was a teen and so helped my father by setting up the electric train my brother would get the next morning as his big gift. The next morning he was delighted and left the train running around the tree. Suddenly I looked over to see our cat standing mesmerized by an ornaments and straddling the train tracks. Crash! Meoooow! The cat flew up the tree, which promptly fell over, sending gifts everywhere. The only thing unscathed, except for being derailed, was the train. Most of the tree never lit again, and next year we had to buy new lights. We didn’t see our cat again for hours!
Paul Bowen, Charlotte
The dead tree falls out of the truck
Years ago, we bought a tree from Wal-Mart, and on the fourth day it was crisp and brown as potato chips. We were devastated and took it back for a refund.
We un-decorated the tree while branches and needles were flying everywhere. Although dark, we loaded into the back of my daughter’s truck and returned to Wal-Mart.
Upon arrival, being very irritated, I rushed into the store and found the manager and requested him to come outside and look at the dead tree! He hurried, with good intentions. Upon looking into the truck, he saw nothing but an empty truck bed. The tree had blown out of the truck on the way there. It was very embarrassing to explain there really was a tree in the truck when we left home. He did replace the tree, no charge.
Pat Jackson, Charlotte
Falling tree leads to surgery
It took three men to haul the Christmas tree into the house that afternoon. That evening, I was alone preparing to decorate and decided to swivel the tree to show its best side.
Did it fall? Yes. Did I try to catch it? Yes. A few days later, I suffered severe pain in my neck and arm, and couldn’t use my hand. The doctor gave me a steroid prescription and after the six-day dose, I was feeling great. On my return visit, I declared myself “cured.” The doctor asked me to hold something, and to my amazement, it dropped to the ground.
He asked if I wanted surgery tomorrow or the next day! I got through Christmas, but spent New Year’s Eve in surgery.
Carla DuPuy, Charlotte
Longtime readers will recognize the name. DuPuy is a former Mecklenburg County Commission chairwoman.
Simple chicken dinner requires intervention
Editor’s note: This one blew way past our word count, but it was too good to pass up
We were bombed out of our home in London by the Blitz in 1940 and finally settled in a condemned cottage in the countryside as squatters. Even though we did without so many ordinary things during WWII, my mother always found a way to create magic at Christmas. Scrawny little trees could be beautified and hand-me-down toys could be recycled, but it was much more difficult to come up with something special for Christmas dinner.
One year my mother had serious problems trying to find a solution. We had used up all our food rations, so we could not run over to the butcher’s shop. That was always a problem towards the end of each month when we would scrape by for the last week. But we did have a big fat hen in a chicken coop down at the end of the garden. The $64,000 question was: What was more important? Should we give up those occasional eggs in favor of a juicy roast chicken?
Roast chicken won but that led to another problem. My mother had never killed a chicken in her life.
She told us not to look out the kitchen window when she walked back through the garden to do the deed. I peeped through the curtain to see her chasing that chicken all over the lawn with her apron waving all over the place. A helpful neighbor, John Harrison, finally came to her rescue. Next problem: My mother had had no idea how to pluck a chicken. We tried taking turns at pulling those feathers out, one by one, but that was obviously not the right way to tackle hundreds of feathers. At the rate we were going, Christmas would be over and it might even be St. Patrick’s Day before that bird was ready to be popped in the oven.
Now it was Mrs. Harrison’s turn to come to our rescue. She was still laughing when she walked in our back door. Good Irish country women know how to do all sorts of things, and she was very happy to show a Scotswoman how easy the job really was when you knew how to do it the right way. It was amazing and we were all very suitably impressed.
That was the tastiest Christmas feast I can remember. We even had traditional steamed Christmas plum pudding – smothered in custard, wearing a crown of holly and complete with silver surprises mixed in the batter. There was always one silver sixpence tossed in, and the person who found that in their serving was guaranteed good health and good fortune throughout the coming year!
Jean Sharpe, Tega Cay, S.C.
Sharpe has a self-published book coming out soon, “The Rats Palace,” about her childhood experiences during WWII. It will be available on Amazon.