We promised a free SVC class or workshop voucher to the two people who received the most pathetic holiday gift. Well, we’re pleased in a most sadistic way to announce Annie Laurie Malarkey as one winner, thanks to the barista action figure she received, which was clearly not a statement on what her life was all about.
Our second winner/loser is Amanda Carlson. For her first Christmas as a married woman, her wonderful, loving husband gave her two books chronicling the exploits of America’s most famous serial killers. She’s been unable to sleep ever since.
Sympathies and congratulations, Annie and Amanda. Here are the rest of the submissions in no particular order. Enjoy.
-The worst gift I’ve ever received was a barista action figure. I unwrapped it and thought, “Is this what my identity has become?”
-Here is my worst present story. For our first Christmas as man and wife, my wonderful, loving husband gave me two books about famous American serial killers. He knew that I liked to watch CSI and he thought I would also enjoy seeing pictures and reading about some of the most brutal murders in history. I really appreciated that he tried, so I smiled, said thank you, and they’ve been hidden on our bookshelf ever since.
-Christmas 1986: year of the matching velour tracksuits! (I’m on the far left.) Mom (evil mastermind) is the only one smiling.It’s funny… NOW. ;-)
-High School Band Christmas Party, 1994. Everyone had to stand in front on the class and open our Secret Santa gift. Mine came wrapped in duct tape and was the size of a shoe box. After a few minutes, I got through the duct tape to find a thick layer of packing tape, followed by more duct tape. In the end, 20 minutes later, I was left with a small plastic box, about 2” square. Inside, lying on a bed of cotton balls were my Secret Santa’s recently removed wisdom teeth.
-I actually received more of a disgusting gift! During a White Elephant gift exchange among our sorority sisters, I received 4 pairs of cute Victoria’s Secret undies. However, one of the four didn’t look so clean, let alone new (no tags). I’ll leave it at that….Til the day, I don’t know who it was from, if it was a joke, if someone mistakenly threw in their worn undies, or if they bought a returned pair at the store.
-My grandmother is mean; a mean judgmental old woman driven by religion. We have never been very close but I have worked at calling her at least a couple times a year to check in and catch up. Five years ago I left a bad marriage. And since, every time I call she asks if I’m dating any nice young men. And every year I tell her I am not interested in dating any men nor am I looking to marry one.Knowing that as a child I liked Precious Moments figurines, for Christmas she sent me one called “Someday My Love.” It’s a figure of a tom-girl holding herself up to a wedding dress imagining what it’s like to be married.
-A friend made me an amazing art quilt that I wanted to hang in my bedroom without using thumbtacks or duct tape. So, I did a little online research and found “quilt hangers:” beautiful, handmade wooden devices that clamp onto quilts without damaging them, allowing you to hang a quilt from the wall. When my mom asked me for suggestions for Christmas gifts, I emailed her a link to the quilt hangers and promptly forgot about them, as the rush of the holiday season overtook me.
Fast forward 6 weeks: I am sitting in my mom’s living room with a lovely array of packages at my feet. I pick up a lightweight Christmas gift bag, pull out the requisite tissue paper, and discover three pastel padded coat hangers for infant clothes inside. I try to disguise my bewilderment as I have no idea on earth why my mother would have given me hangers for children’s clothing as a Christmas gift. She looks at me sincerely and asks if I like them. “Honey,” she said. “You have no idea how hard I had to look to find those things. What on earth do you want them for?”
As I mentally recounted my Christmas wishlist, I realized that she had confused “quilt hangers” with “quilted hangers.” I burst out laughing as I explained to her what I had intended. Luckily she joined in my laughter as she had thought the request ranked up there with “ the weirdest thing anyone has ever asked for!” The quilted hanger story gets retold and laughed about every Christmas now, firmly part of our family holiday lore.
-Ever seen the infomercial for a “bumpit?” http://www.bighappiehair.com? (yes that link says ‘bighappiehair’- do yourself a favor and check it out). These sorts of ridiculous accoutrements have always been a running joke between my friends and I. The infomercial swears it can be used “poolside, countryside, Upper East side”, but I personally beg to differ.
You already know how this story ends. Cut to Christmas day, me: shock, disbelief; pack of bumpits in my trembling hands. My grandma: delight, blissful unawareness; purchaser of said gift.
Sometimes we don’t know what we need. In this case I’d say I already knew, and bumpits are woefully absent from that list. Le sigh.
-The most disturbing Christmas gift I ever received was a lustful, deep purple sweater made from a kind of rayon that has a slick, almost lubricated feeling. The V-neck V-ed down in a way that demanded this alluring garment be worn without an undergarment for heightened sensation and chest-hair exposure. On the front of the sweater were emblazoned the words “The look you want to know better.” On the back: “Guess.” But the worst part was that this suggestive top came from my mom.
-The weirdest gift I ever received was a tree ornament that was a replica of a nail used to crucify jesus. First, I’m not religious so that made it awkward. Second it had a pretty red ribbon tied through the top as if to say, “see it’s and ornament, it’s totally fine to hang in public”. And third, it was given to me by my then mother in law which made it no joke.
-The crappiest gift I received was a bolt of black fabric from my then-boyfriend. He told me I could make it into a poncho. I don’t sew.
-The strangest gift I’ve received was a ceramic shoe with a ceramic shrimp and lemon attached to the toe. The shoe is about 9″ in length and peach in color. We tried for several years to hide the shoe in the houses of various friends but it always made it’s way back to us. My husband had the opportunity to take something to work and have Mario Andretti sign it. He took the shoe. Mario laughed. It now has value and takes the position of honor on our mantel.
-My Aunt Julie gave myself and my husband a used and worn quilt with large blood stains on it - yes, placed in a nice gift bag complete with tissue. Coupled with the odd fact that her husband had just passed away from an illness led me to promptly garbage this strange Christmas gift instead of keeping it or re-gift it along.
-I got a journal from my mother that is filled with questions I have been instructed to answer and send back to her in April for her birthday. So basically I got assigned writing a novel about my mom as my Christmas present.
-This is one of the weirdest and worst gift I’ve ever received. Prior to Christmas I had been watching the TV series ‘Friends’ (sad, I know), and had gotten myself through season 3. My dad asked what was on my list this year, and I mentioned a DVD of Friends season 4 as one of the items. On Christmas morning I grabbed a DVD-looking package from my dad and opened it. It was a movie called “Just Friends.” Here’s the rub – my dad took a black sharpie and scribbled out the word “just,” so that only the word “Friends” was readable. Below the title he taped a torn piece of notebook paper with the words “season 4″ written on it. After opening the gift, I simply stared down at this weird thing in my hands, half-muttering “uhhhh…” Then my dad interjected:
“C’mom, it’s Friends season 4! See? Are you looking at it? Friends season 4, just like what’s on your list!”
The rest of the morning I simply assumed the real Friends season 4 was wrapped up somewhere under the tree, at the very least to validate and dignify the “joke” version of Friends season 4. But it wasn’t under the tree. That was it. No actual Friends season 4. Only a terrible movie called “Just Friends” that couldn’t even be returned because it had sharpie scribbled all over it.
-Bitter Coffee? My boyfriend of 9 years broke up with me over Thanksgiving and I haven’t seen him since. After visiting my family for the holidays, I came home to find he (a barista) had left me his free weekly bag of Starbucks coffee beans with nothing else but a sticky note on it saying “merry xmas.”??? And also, burn!
-Unwrapped a beautiful snow globe, only to find that it was clearly marked with the previous year (2010). Even better, the snow globe had a special engraving dedicated to the couple who had gifted us the snow globe to commemorate their winter wedding that took place in 2010.So thoughtful! :)
-Great question. I think the worst present I ever got was an opened package of steel wool.
-My mother thought it would be a good idea to have a gigantic blanket made based on a photo she took of my two dogs, a pug and a Boston terrier. The Boston is in a bright pink ruffly coat, laying on top of the pug, sleeping on a hideous couch. If that’s not creepy enough, try snuggling up in the blanket with a 3 foot pug head staring at you.
-The idiotic gift ever? Our ‘favorite’ relatives sometimes re-give presents they don’t like. Once my aunt and uncle gave an 8 years old a book ‘The Idiot’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky. They just couldn’t keep it for themselves.
-This year for our first Christmas as a married couple my cousin (who is close in age, I grew up with, and still hang outwith regularly) sent us a picture frame.This would have been great to put our wedding pictures in if it hadn’t been in the shape of a Catholic cross and said something terrible like “family memories” on it. My husband and I are atheists and it was a HUGE family deal when we refused to get wed in a church.
-I asked for a wool blanket, but instead received a bathroom rug made of shocking pink fake fur. I donated it to a veterinary hospital, because most pets are colorblind.
-The most pathetic gift I received this year was office supplies from my cooky Aunt-in-Law. You know, staples, erasers, pencil sharpeners. The stuff you get when you’re going into first grade.She did sew a lovely christmas drawstring bag to hold it all.
-This actually happened to my husband… on account of me. One Christmas right after we were married, my mother-in-law bought me a ton of new art supplies… canvases, paints, watercolors, paper. It took me about 30 minutes to open all my gifts, there were so many. Finally, it was my husbands turn. He was used to being the recipient of equally extravagant gifts from his mother (he is an only child.) She handed him his gift. It was a wrapped up BROKEN hershey candy bar. The 50 cent kind. That’s it. Things haven’t gotten much better over the years. It’s a running joke between my husband and I now that apparently he has been “replaced” by the daughter she never had. I guess I’m more fun to buy for.
-The crappiest gift I have ever received was from one of my brothers. It was:Three cans of Beef Ravioli (generic brand) with a plastic bowl.
-This year, I received two very disturbing gifts… A package of Iron Man briefs from my in-laws (because I mentioned once, 2-years ago, that Iron Man was my favorite superhero as a kid) and a pair of Native American chaps from my mom who lives in Yuma, AZ (the note from her said, I saw these in Mexico and I thought you might like them). So, when I opened the underwear and attempted to handle the awkwardness of trying not to laugh, I thought to myself, “there is no way I’ll ever receive a more useless gift”… Then I opened the chaps the next day…
-Every year my family does a gift exchange and I always get hosed. This year was no exception. I made 2 pillows and bought a book for my secret pal, and from my pal, who forgot they even had me, I got a single “candleholder” made from Monkeyballs.
-My worst/weirdest gift ever? Hands down – a hot glue gun. It was baby blue in color with a matching storage case AND an extra pack of correctly sized glue sticks.
This ultra-romantic gift was from my boyfriend, Steve, back in the early 90’s. I didn’t ask for it, and I really didn’t even know what it was at the time. I was not thrilled at all when I opened it, and he seemed very surprised about that. Needless to say, Steve and I are no longer together, but I bet he’s buying similar thoughtful gifts for his current girlfriend/wife. Lucky woman!
-So my Grand Aunt (My Grandpa’s sister) has been living with us for about 4 years now and she decides to give me an xmas gift—mind you that she’s a total horder and all out weird (keeps take-away containers, reuses disposable things, makes soup from a coffee maker, ect).
She doesn’t drive and she doesn’t work so I’m skeptical at this point. I bring the christmas gift up into my room and I notice that the xmas gift wrapper is from a couple years back when I bought christmas wraps to wrap one gift for my ex-girlfriend. This being said, I had a bad hunch of what I was getting. I open it up and it’s cheap mens perfume that my dad got 2 xmas’s ago from his cheap ex-band members that we absolutely hate. Basically she found the xmas gift my dad stashed in the guest room and she found old xmas giftwraps that was stashed there also to regive to us. Funny thing is that I placed the xmas perfume back into the guest room.
My mom’s sister laughed “It’s the thought that counts.” She should know that I don’t wear perfume and if anyone in the family does, then there wouldn’t be any mens perfume left to be unwanted. Not sure if any thoughts were involved.
-My mother (who believes she is clairvoyant) has always had a more vibrant connection with the “spiritual realm” than the “physical realm.” Man does it result in some epic Christmas present fails. With too many to list, I’ll just share a few of her shockingly bad choices to help illustrate the joy we all share around the holidays: teal turtlenecks given (in subsequent years) to my husband, my sister’s old boyfriend and (yes, I swear) my sister’s new boyfriend. (Who the f*ck wears teal turtlenecks?); a box filled with a scarf and a note that it is just a “prototype” of the one she would like to give my sister—in reality it was a scarf she had gotten herself before realizing that my sister might want one too: at least 20 used, heavy hardcover self-help books she bought for less than a dollar each at a church garage sale (it should be noted that I have to pay to ship all my presents home each year); a brightly colored ceramic dragonfly, which my mother explained had belonged to her until she realized she didn’t want it and decided my sister might; every Suduko product ever made—always given to the recipient in a box with other Sudoku products (did you know they make a Picdoku for kids with pictures instead of numbers? It showed up under this year’s tree though none of my siblings or I have children.); a gaudy, nine-inch-long crucifix given to my sister who lives with her Buddhist fiancé and has repeatedly expressed that she does not believe in Jesus; Bulletproof Monk and various other (always used) DVDs that she’s gifting because they express a “spiritual teaching.” With far too many to list, it’s sufficient to say that like death and taxes, truly cracked-out Christmas presents from my mother are one of life’s unwavering assurances. It’s sick, but the whole mess gives me a warm, holiday glow as I anticipate it each year (but, I am running out of hiding places to stash the gifts before I fly home without them).
-When I was a child, I really wanted to play video games and asked my father for an Atari. We had a Vic 20 computer at the time, but no games. On Christmas morning we ripped through the gifts hoping for the Atari, only to find a book, on programming video games in basic. We spent the better part of the day typing in lines of code trying desperately to get some sad version of Pong to work on our ancient machine. To this day, any form of programming leaves me feeling a little sad and disappointed.
-My ex-husband gave me an iron for Christmas.
The worst part, as if it needs a worst part, is that I told him I wanted a jewelry box. I SHOWED him the exact jewelry box I wanted. The iron came in a box the size of the jewelry box and was just the right weight. He had it professionally wrapped.If he was smart, he would have acted like it was a joke. But it wasn’t and he didn’t. He really thought, because I said I needed a new iron at some point and it had steam and an auto shut off feature, that it would make a great Christmas present, one that I would talk about with my friends.
-I just received a small terracotta bottle cooler that is supposed to hold a bottle of wine to chill. Except it isn’t large enough to hold even a normal shouldered bottle of Chardonnay. I placed three different types of bottles, to no avail I have a terracotta cylinder for collecting stale air.
-My best friend got married over thanksgiving and went to Disneyland for her honeymoon. After dropping hundreds on travel and wedding party expenses to be in her wedding, she brought me back the shampoo/conditioner/bath soap from their hotel as my Christmas present.
-GIFT OF FORTITUDE:
One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; it gives a person a special strength of will. This gift confers an extraordinary readiness to undergo trials for love of God or in fulfillment of the divine will; unusual courage to bear difficulties even for many years; firmness in carrying arduous tasks to their completion; perseverance in a lifetime fidelity to one’s vocation in spite of heavy trials or disappointments sent by God; and gladness in being privileged to suffer persecution or humiliation in union with Christ and for the sake of his name. It was printed on a label attached to an Uncle Seth’s Pink cookie.
-Could my baby-sock-converted-to-coin-purse possibly win me a free class? The best part is that it came pre-stuffed with pennies.
-Okay, I’ll bite. I think the most random Xmas gift I’ve ever been given was a small, hardcover book devoted to glossy photos of and teeny-bopper fandom for Tom Cruise. Yes, that Tom Cruise. It was given to me a few years ago from an acquaintance I knew back in high school—first I thought it was a gag gift (if it were, it would have been perfect!), but when she looked at me earnestly and said, “Remember? REMEMBER?!?” I realized with a horror, not entirely masked by my confused smile of thanks, that she was entirely sincere. (And no, I didn’t remember.)
So oddly, whenever I’m in the print shop at SVC, and I see that Dianetics billboard from the window, I think of that bizarre gift. I dunno, maybe if you’re a Scientologist, Tom Cruise is the gift that keeps on giving.
-When I was 16 (way back in 1992) I was a skinny wannabe basketball star with a dope Posse on Broadway and mad Zelda skills. On Christmas morning I was ready to tear into a new LL Cool J cassette or some new Reeboks. My great-grandma usually gave me $5 and a card, but this year she went all out and handed me a wrapped present. No it wasn’t her cat, it was something fit for only the coolest of 16 year olds. A Little Golden Book. Not just any Little Golden Book though. It was one fit for a spiritually curious 4 year old, “My Little Golden Book About God.”
-Hands down the worst gift I got was probably six or more years ago when my well-meaning aunt (who didn’t want anyone to go without getting to open a present) gave me several items from, what seemed to be a thrift store or…garage sale. Oh, there was the rusty hair clips, forsure, but the most horrifying was unwrapping an Electric Razor. Not only did it looks like it was innovative technology for the 80′s and you had to plug it in….when I opened it…there was HAIR IN IT!!!!Someone else’s hair!!!! Leftover from the last owner!!!
-Weirdest gift? By far has to be…iridescent glitter coated seashells with looped ribbons, which were apparently to be used to hang the abominations. I wish I had a picture. I was in college at the time (19ish?) and a friend of mine gave them to me. They struck me as something my grandmother would have made (and I think did make…), but my peer? Really? We’re not close anymore.
-After 20 years it has finally sunk into my husband’s head that I really like flowers. So recently he went to Fred Meyer to get me a present, and came back with a rose, a coke, and…two tubes of epoxy.
I should explain that the Fred Meyer clearance table is my husband’s holy grail of shopping. He is obsessed with it, in the way that only an extremely thrifty, hyper-focused person with mild Asperger’s can be. When he goes to FM, he makes a beeline to the clearance table to find cheap treasures, often forgetting why he went to FM in the first place and coming home with bags of stuff, but not the one thing he went out for. We have tons of stuff we don’t need simply because it spoke to him from the FM clearance table. And it was on sale.
I imagine that when he went to FM the epoxy was there, shining brightly on the clearance altar, cheap and practical with hundreds of household uses, and it’s nearly Christmas—therefore, he concludes rationally, it is an excellent gift. Kind of like the automatic trash can, car bungee cords, router set, combination flashlight/tire gauge, and variety pack of sponges I have received for other gift-giving events, all with FM clearance price tags on them.
Since I don’t have much use for epoxy, I asked him if he was planning on gluing us together. He said, “forever.” In his mind, this is a truly romantic gift. Who am I to argue?
-First, some background. I’m a graduate student in restoration ecology, and I’m interested in ways that animals affect how we restore native systems. My parents don’t know what I actually do, after years of attempts to clarify. I currently work with mammal research and wetlands, but also love frogs and reptiles.
For my last birthday, they said they were sending a card. I wasn’t expecting much, maybe a short letter or some photos, but they had first emailed how they had hunted to find just the right one for my interests.
The card was a photoshopped image of a frog, on a motorcycle, wearing leather biker gear, including a jaunty leather cap and fringed vest (the card got wrecked, otherwise I would have scanned a copy). The inside said, “Happy birthday. Love, Mom & Dad.”
-This year, my family agreed that we would save money by not giving gifts this year. However, 5 of us got pink-eye from my nephew, the 24-hour flu from my sister, and white towels with thin blue and pink pastel stripes from my parents. I just got married last year. My parents were there. We’ve got towels.
-I’ve never been a petite individual, but for many years, especially in my early teens, I received clothes several sizes too large for me. These usually featured kittens or cats because I’ve always been a cat lover, with glitter and flower embellishments. One standout in particular was a butter yellow sweatshirt with “Florida” on it along with some dolphins. If they were meant to be “nicer” items they were usually cut and fashioned after the late 90’s misses trends, with shoulder pads and various shades of beige. For a girl who was already very self-conscious about her weight, these were pretty insulting. “You really think I’m that big and would look good in this?!”
-A moldy container of Kozy Shack rice pudding with a bow on top. Yes, really.
-I was given a paperback book titled “Stuck Up,” which was all about the various objects that have been stuck up into people and had to be removed by surgeons. Poor photos, bad writing. Overall not a nice holiday experience. Of course I did look at every photo before tossing it into the recycling bin.
-One Hanukkah, when I was 6 years old, a friend of mine gave me a coloring book. What made this present so bad? Half of the book had been colored in by the friend! Outside of the lines too! Booo!
-Um, not to whine… but my boss just laid me off on December 15th, right before the holidays! Now that’s a crappy gift. And right before my departure she could be heard (in our open studio) discussing how they were going to the “beach house” for Christmas and all the gifts she bought for her family. I would have gladly taken a Chia Pet.
-Last year I received a snow globe from my grandmother. She gave my brother and sister extremely important and sentimental gifts. When she gave me the box she said, “The moment I saw this it reminded me so much of you!” I opened the nativity scened snow globe and put on my best, “Oooohhhh!!!! Thannnnkkk youuuuu!!!!!” face while the rest of my family stiffled laughs. I have never been interested in snow globes or nativity scenes.