Every year around this time, we gather for a holiday tradition – the swapping of holiday horror stories in Carolyn Hax’s annual Hootenanny of Holiday Horrors. This year’s Hoot takes place Friday, Dec. 12, so start sending in your tales of hilarious and horrible holidays past.
12 boyfriends tripping
I’m Jewish, but one year I went to spend Christmas with my then-boyfriend and his family. He decided an appropriate gift to them would be LSD, because it was “such an important part of his life” and he “just wanted them to understand.” He gave them each about two hits, in a baggie, along with printed tips from the Internet on navigating their first “trip.” Cue a three-hour, screaming, crying scene, during which I try to disappear into the corner of the couch. Did I mention I had the flu? I really wish I was lying about this. 
11 sisters peeing
My family has a tradition that the littlest child always places the angel on top of the tree. When I was about 10, my 5-year-old-sister was scared so my Dad hoisted me up to do the job instead. Unfortunately, we both forgot we’d recently moved to a suburban house and Dad rammed my head into our new lower ceilings. No one was hurt and we all had a good laugh.
The next year my sister was feeling more game and Dad set her up on his shoulder with the angel in hand. Somebody remembered the previous year’s events and we all started laughing so hard that my poor little sister peed her pants — all over my father. Our family photo album features two pictures of the tree-topping moment — and my father and sister have each changed clothing between the first and the second. 
10 lint balls growing
One November, unbeknownst to anyone else, my little brother asked my mom to start saving dryer lint. She thought it was for a school project, and got used to stuffing the lint in a box in the cupboard every time she did laundry. Fast forward two months to Christmas morning, when my father opens a large box from little brother that contains … mounds of dryer lint. The rest of the family is dying with laughter, thinking it was a joke, while my brother is protesting that, “you always complain about starting the woodstove in the morning, and dryer lint is great for starting fires!'” Dryer lint made an appearance at several more Christmases after that. The corollary to this story is, 20 years on, I washed some new towels last night and came away with such a satisfying wad of lint, it got giftwrapped and is being shipped to little brother’s house now. Merry Christmas! 
Nine pot pipes smashing
This is one for the books: We are not going home (across the country) for Christmas this year because of Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving we had twenty people over to dinner including my husband’s family and my parents. The afternoon started with me in the kitchen preparing the meal and most of the crowd in the living room snacking on hors d’oeuvres. As I continued to replenish the trays, I watched as the most expensive ingredients were being depleted at a much faster rate than I would have thought. I then realized that my Mother in Law was sneaking into the kitchen filling dinner plates with smoked salmon, caviar, and handmade (by me) gruyere cheese puffs. How does one respond to that? Why was she doing it? Because she and her son, my brother in law, were high and had the very expensive munchies. This annoyed me but what can you do, family is not always convenient. However when they proceeded to go out on the patio and light up, I freaked. Have I mentioned my father is a federal judge? Oh, and that one of the guests who had not yet arrived was a DEA agent? All things all of the guests knew, as we had just been discussing the guest list.
I did what any insane/sane person would have done — I flushed the bag of weed and smashed the glass pipe with the flat side of my cleaver and tossed it into the fireplace. Most people at the party had no idea what was going on. For some people, please don’t smoke in my house is not understood, but for my family apparently even fear of prosecution is not enough. Hence the cleaver! So can “smash the pot pipe with a cleaver” be a part of the holiday song next year? LOL 
Eight parents fighting
One year after a bunch of drama with my family, I went home to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving instead, where I ran into the inevitable “all the dirty family secrets come spilling out” holiday. Turned out her parents were on the verge of divorce (we knew her father was cheating), and her mother chose that night to bring up the cheating again. Which led to him threatening her with a knife, her breaking a wine bottle and threatening him with the broken neck, an “I’ll kill you like I killed my first husband!” with two adult daughters looking on going “WHAT FIRST HUSBAND?” and urging me to “YES GO AHEAD AND CALL THE COPS” — which I was defeated in by not knowing the address I was at, and her father managing to get the phone out of my hand before they could tell it to me (I was the only one with a shot at this being taller than the father and having the b*lls to actually make the call).
I was certainly appreciative that my family’s level of dysfunction didn’t rise quite that high after that. Oh, and apparently the mother’s first husband did exist and really was found in a closet dead by some method I can’t remember almost 20 years later. Whether or not she did it is, well — who knows? 
Seven turkey showers
I was 23, fresh out of college. I was enjoying my first post-college apartment (living alone! With my own kitchen! Heaven!) and was possessed to throw a dinner party. It was a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so I decided to have a turkey, various side dishes, and a couple of desserts. I invited about 20 college pals and set about getting ready in the days leading up to the party.
I’d read or heard somewhere that if you had a fresh turkey, you should cook it within 24 hours. When I went grocery shopping three days before the party, there were only fresh turkeys, so I didn’t buy one — I thought I’d just get one the day of. Well. You can imagine.
I went shopping again the morning of the party, and that day, the store had only frozen turkeys. I checked at two other grocery stores and frozen was the only available option. A low-grade panic set in, as I knew it took days to defrost a frozen turkey.
I bought a turkey anyway, not having the experience or wisdom to think of a different main course, and took it home with a heavy heart. I read the laughably-named “quick thaw” method on the packaging and despaired. Then in a flash, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan … my apartment building had excellent water pressure, and I thought that maybe warm water AND the action of water beating on the turkey might thaw it faster.
I called all my guests and asked them to come two hours later than they’d been invited for. Then with the turkey still in its plastic wrap, I put on a t-shirt and shorts and climbed into the shower with the turkey. I rolled it back and forth in my arms with the water beating down on it for at least an hour. Then I called a local butcher, close to tears, and asked what I should do. “Turn the oven on to 500, wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil and roast the hell out of it for an hour longer than it tells you to,” he said. “Then in the last 20 minutes, take off the aluminum foil so it’ll brown.”
I said, “Am I going to give everyone salmonella?” He said, “Good luck, honey.”
No one got sick, the turkey cooked OK and everything was delicious. But the part my entire family and all my friends still remember all these years later is, of course, the fact that I took a shower with a frozen turkey. 
Six joking (?) grandpas
This came from a Christmas dinner a few years ago, when my then-boyfriend, who I was absolutely in love with, came over. He is from Latvia, which came out over the course of dinner. During a lull in conversation, my grandpa looked over and said, “So, when are you going to be deported?” Absolutely silence. My mom tried to cover it by saying, I think he is asking when you are going to visit your family. My grandpa interrupted, “No, really, when are you going to be deported?” Cue uncomfortable laughter. Now its an annual event, asking the new guy (my mom has 3 single daughters so there is usually a new boyfriend involved) when they are going to be deported. I think my mom thinks of it as a test — if they don’t run, they are a keeper? Us girls think its really a ploy to keep us single forever. 
Five glass bikinis
When I was a junior in college, I was dating a guy who I thought was the Greatest Thing Ever (he wasn’t). I was devastated that GTE and I were going to our respective home states for the holidays and wouldn’t be spending them with each other. Just before our break started, I decided we should have some holiday-themed, um, fun. I made him close his eyes while I furiously wrapped my (nekkid) body in two strings of Christmas lights. I turned them on before he opened his eyes.
Just as he was starting to take in the full effect, we heard my roommate’s key in the door (we were in the living room). He dashed into my bedroom with me in close pursuit, my scurrying hampered both by having forgotten to unplug myself from the wall and the need to scramble with a rather wide stance to keep the lights around my legs from poking the opposite thigh. It was only in the moment before I landed that my flying leap onto my bed seemed like a bad idea. Yep. The impact shattered a dozen or so of the Christmas lights I was wearing. So instead of dreamy, Christmas-themed farewell-for-now fun, I had the unending joy of helping my boyfriend pick lightbulb shards out of my butt. Good times. 
Four frisky fake-outs
Last year Christmas was at our house. We had our son and daughter, their spouses, and our grand kids all staying at our house. After everyone was in bed, my wife and I were feeling romantic and were getting frisky. Our security system provides a panic button that is attached to the bedpost on my wife’s side of the bed and, in the throes of passion she accidentally hit it. Suddenly there was this 10,000 decibel alarm going off in the house. I jumped up to run out in the hall to punch in the code to shut off the alarm but realized my entire extended family would be out there seeing what was happening and I was naked. So I had to first put on my pants. Sure enough, everyone was there asking me what happened as I punched the code into the keypad. “It was an accident” was all the explanation they were getting. Then I called the security company and asked them not to send the cops. I then sent everyone back to their respective beds and returned to mine. My wife greeted me with, “Now, where were we?” My question is, should we do it again this year and make it a tradition? 
Three church laughs
Just wanted to share my busting-up-in-church-on-Christmas-Eve story. One year, while singing “What Child Is This,” we got to the line about “where ox and ass are sleeping” and I thought, “Uh, huh-huh … they said ‘ass.’ ” Of course, my siblings picked up on the same thought as if by ESP, and all you could hear from our pew for the next 15 minutes was stifled snorting and wheezing.
I was just glad to see that ours isn’t the only family going to hell. 
Two death chairs
Here’s our family holiday tradition:
Black olives (and other green ones and pickles, but those get ignored) go into a lovely bowl on the table, about midday. Olive platter is covered in plastic wrap. All day long, the plastic wrap is carefully lifted and black olives are “stolen” from the tray by all family members. At dinner time, grandma dramatically enters with a SECOND can of black olives, and the bowl is refilled, and we cheer and clap. A small, odd tradition, but comforting. I know I can count on those black olives to be there, waiting for me in Buffalo as the snow piles up outside.
We have other wacky things we do, like everyone getting a lottery ticket and dad sitting in “the death chair,” but I won’t get into those. Happy Holidays! 
And a complete hair removal system
Gift chosen by my father’s second wife: A Complete Hair Removal System! Reason my face was hairy: chemotherapy.