Not everyone can be Santa Claus, bringing joy and goodwill to everyone on Christmas Day. Sometimes you’re too tired, or ill, or pissed, or hateful, or absent, and you end up being the person that ruins it for everyone else, making them wish they hadn’t bothered slaving over a hot stove and dressing up all fancy. A lot of Christmases end up less like the joyful dancing bit in the middle of The Snowman and more like the hideously depressing bit at the end of The Snowman. And usually, all it takes is loads and loads of booze.
We spoke to 13 people who have managed to ruin Christmas to find out exactly how it feels to be That Guy…
I left my Christmas shopping to the last minute and went out to do it on Christmas Eve, but got a call from a mate and went to meet him for one quick pre-shopping pint. It was delicious, as were the ten or so after that, and before I knew it it was 4am or so on Christmas Day and I was stumbling towards home having not bought anyone anything. There was one 24-hour shop open, so my family were presented with sweets, air fresheners and soft drinks, all wrapped in newspaper (but not sellotaped). And I stank. I smelled so, so bad.
On Christmas Eve in 2002 or so, I got incredibly fucking drunk and did a bunch of E, so I was unmovable on Christmas Day. My parents had bought me a car (a truly awful car – I think it was a 1989-or-so Toyota Carina, which is not a thing anymore and may not have been a thing then) and were all excited for me to find the key in my stocking. They finally got me downstairs and found the key, dragged my ass outside and said: “Awesome, can I go back to bed now?” in the flattest voice ever, like a real shithead, then went back upstairs. In my defence, there wasn’t much to be excited about. I never drove it, because by the time I got my license the piece of shit wouldn’t start.
One year my brother was feeling poorly on Christmas Day and picked at his Christmas dinner but didn’t really eat much. Jokingly, during the lunch, I told my mum the reason he couldn’t eat his Christmas dinner was because he’d bought a kebab the night before and kept it under his bed and eaten it just before we went downstairs for Christmas dinner – this was all a lie, I just thought it was funny. Before I could retract it or reveal my hilarious jape, my mum got so pissed off at my brother that the Christmas lunch basically descended into a massive row about why my brother thought it was OK to eat a kebab right before sitting down to a meal that had taken my parents hours to prepare. That was a fun year. Christmas kebab. Never forget.
My Nana took her false teeth out and started picking the food out of them at the dinner table. Then she sicked in her handbag and went home in an ambulance.
I wasn’t on speaking terms with my sister, and bought everyone a thoughtful Christmas present except her. I got her a stupid Santa outfit, which she threw in my face before storming out in tears. My brother had been slaving away on dinner, so walks in, knife in hand, to tell me I’m a cunt. Mum passes out in shock seeing her two lads have a face-off with a knife between them. She has some kind of fit and starts talking in tongues. We call an ambulance, but eventually she calms down so we cancel it. Then sibling by sibling, everyone drives off elsewhere. Then she follows, and as a non-driver, I’m home alone on Christmas Day. Second time that’s happened!
I wouldn’t say it ruined Christmas per se, but every year my mum makes about eight Christmas puddings from scratch, spending time putting them together and steaming them properly and everything. Anyway, Christmas Day comes around and she takes the one she’s made for the family and does the traditional thing of pouring brandy onto it and lighting it. Only it doesn’t light. So my mum tries a bit more. Still nothing. And a bit more. Nothing.
It turns out my sister had drunk all the brandy and filled the empty bottle back up with water. So my mum was basically just pouring increasing levels of water onto the Christmas pudding she’d spent hours making.
I accidentally outed a family member as pregnant one Christmas. I’m really close with my aunt. She’s my mum’s youngster sister and checks off all the ‘cool aunt’ stereotypes – she helped me with girls, filled in when my dad wasn’t around, everything. Also, we rag on each other constantly. Insult, insult, insult. So at Christmas, I’m being 17 and thinking I’m a cool grown-up with my new garms and she goes, “You’re still a boy and your trainers are shit”. I respond, “At least I didn’t turn up to Christmas in a shapeless purple sack – what are you, pregnant?”
She runs out to the kitchen, my mum follows, my grandma, who’s travelled over from Ghana for Christmas for the first time in 15 years, goes with them, and that’s how they all find out she’s pregnant, through me being a dick. The kid is nine now. I farted on his head the other day.
A few years ago I was at my girlfriend’s family’s home in Edinburgh. I’d flown up for my first Christmas with them. We were having a few drinks in the evening and one of her aunties accidentally set fire to a napkin in the living room. In my infinite wisdom I decided to blow it out, which of course made the fire much worse. Suddenly my hand was basically on fire. I thought I should run outside and throw the flaming napkin. I run towards the front door in a panic, and throw it out, but a gust of wind catches it and blows it back in, onto the dog’s head.
So now the dog’s on fire. Her little cousins run in to find the dog on fire and me hitting it to try and put the fire out. The children start crying, and I’m laughing hysterically because I’m quite drunk and I can’t believe how bad everything’s suddenly got. The dog was fine, and I ended up marrying my girlfriend, so it all ended well.
One Christmas Eve I decided to get extremely drunk in the day. Stupid idea really. I was due back at my parents’ house that afternoon, because, you know, it’s Christmas and that is what a good son is supposed to do.
Unfortunately, I am a bad son, and so duly had just enough beers to make sure that when I got on the train home, I fell asleep on it and went all the way to Gatwick, which is resolutely not where I live. Oh yeah, and my phone had run out of battery, so nobody could call me. They could call the British Transport Police though, which they did, because everyone thought I was dead. I was not, of course, but I most definitely deserved to be.
I was eventually picked up by my understandably ticked off father, hours – oh so many hours – later, on a dark road that he had been driving up and down looking for me all night. I absolutely shattered my parents’ expectations of me being a fully-functioning, responsible adult capable of adhering to simple instructions. Merry Christmas!
My mum cooked Christmas dinner and had a few drinks while doing so. When we got round to eating she was a bit pissed – at one point she started going on and on about how much she loved Star Trek, which is a show she has never watched. The conversation turned to family heirlooms and things like that, at which point my sister said she would be thrilled with anything, except the ugly chicken-shaped egg holder, which was my great-grandmother’s, which my mum promptly got out to show everyone. Cue some smart arse making the joke, “It was all good fun until Mrs F got her cock out.” As everyone laughed, my mum tried to rescue the situation by turning to my sister and pleading. “I used to hate it too, but when you grow up, you will learn to love it.” This came right after the word cock. Dinner had to be abandoned due to chaos, and my mum had to be put to bed.
As a teenager I tended to go out and get beered up on Christmas Eve with my mates. One year – about 20 years ago – I staggered home about 1am, locked the doors and passed out. At around 9am on Christmas morning I was rudely awakened by the phone ringing. No other lazy fucker in the house could be bothered to get it so I stormed to the phone and yelled “Fucking what?” through my massive hangover. To my surprise it was my mum asking sweetly if I could let them in now. Turned out I had locked my mum, sister and brother out and, after repeatedly ringing the doorbell, phoning and banging on the window, they’d had to camp out on a neighbour’s floor.
We invited everyone to ours for our little boy’s magical first Christmas. It seemed a little odd that he didn’t want to eat all of his food but we put it down to the excitement. Less than 12 hours later, he had gleefully passed norovirus around eight members of the family. We’ve got out of hosting Christmas since, so it may not have ruined Christmas after all.
We have an extremely ritualistic Christmas in my family – 7am wake up, 7.30am stockings with coffee, 8.30am tangerine, etc. Anyway, about five years ago, somewhere between the midday walk and 3pm dinner slot, I felt it my ‘adult’ duty, now that I was a grown-up, to stoke the fire a little bit. We’ve got one of those log-burning stoves. So, I open up the doors, stuff a few logs in and close the doors. Or, almost close the doors, thanks to a corner of a log jutting out. In what I can only assume was severe respect for the Christmas schedule (or my apelike tendencies after a Buck’s Fizz), I decided the only way to close it was to ram the fucker home with the doors. The glass doors. The smashable, crackable glass doors. So, I cracked and smashed the glass doors.
At first I was only a little annoyed, but when the fire began aggressively drawing air in through the cracks and smashes, and fucking raging, I thought we might have a situation. And we did. The fire started raging so aggressively that I could see flames disappearing up the flue, which is not good news – I had set the chimney alight. That’s when I became less ‘adult’ and more ‘toddler’ and screamed for my dad to come and fix my mess. He managed to stop the flow of air through the crack with something, but the fire was still raging inside. It was SO HOT. We had to douse it with water, which exploded soot and dust EVERYWHERE through the living room. We didn’t need to call the fire brigade, which was good news, but we also found we’d lost our granddad during the blaze. It turned out he’d just gone outside to move his car, just in case it caught fire too.