Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

MSNBC recently ran a story about holiday gift horrors, “Used socks, old candy: Holiday gift horrors” by Rina Raphael, wherein TODAYshow.com readers shared their stories of weird, inappropriate and sometimes cruel holiday gifts.

For example, a Betsy Murphy of Mukwonago, Wisconsin writes: “My mother-in-law, who not only was usually drunk, but cheap, gave me a pound of ground beef — right from her freezer. She stuck a bow on it and made such a big deal over it. And it was very greasy!” (‘Mukwonago,’ BTW, sounds suspiciously like the way a juicer would pronounce ‘Milwaukee’ when they were in their cups.)

Over in Connecticut, Susan was disgusted with this choice: “My worst gift ever was from my mother-in-law. A used popcorn popper with old, rancid butter in the melting cup! (And it wasn’t a joke!)” (Hey, Mom’s recycling!)

And the understandably Anonymous checked in with: “I received two from my ex-mother-in-law when I was about 19. The first was a large faux wood Jesus clock whose arms spun around for the hour and minute hands and the second was a see-through polyester crotch-less lingerie in a size 2 times bigger (I was a size 9 in juniors at the time). Funny now, but boy what a Christmas that was.” (A Jesus clock and crotchless pantyhose what was on Mom’s mind?)

Well, that got Yer Ol’ Tattler to thinkin’ about some of the bizarre holiday gifts he’s heard of over the years, presented forthwith and without commercial interruption:

There was the matronly Aunt who, forswearing the usual hated sweater, tie or pair of Argyle socks, gave her relatives unrefrigerated Cornish hens one year, delivered in festively gift-wrapped boxes five days before Christmas. The stench of rotting flesh when the boxes were opened was overwhelming.

Ned had never gotten along well with his boss, so it surprised him his third year with the company to receive a Christmas present from the guy a large box of Harry & David fruit covered in green and red plastic wrap with a large red bow. He was nearly touched until he got the gift home and unwrapped it someone had removed all of the good H & D fruit and replaced it with small bruised apples, overripe pears and misshapen oranges. Ned responded by giving his boss a cheap plastic Mighty Mouse watch from the ‘factory-seconds’ bin at local Big Box store with a gaudy band that read “Here He Comes to Save the Day!” They never exchanged presents again.

The eight Hanukkah gifts from a mother-in-law to a new daughter. First day: an economy-sized canister of Comet cleanser; second: a toilet brush; third: a package of scrubbing sponges; fourth: furniture polish; fifth: large box of plastic trash bags; sixth: a toilet brush and caddy; seventh: a gallon of pine oil disinfectant; eighth: a 12-roll box of paper towels. Gee, what was Mom trying to say here?

Then there was the jocular college boy trying to impress the parents of his new love on Christmas morning by gifting Dear Old Dad with a year’s subscription to Juggs magazine; Mom with a box of ‘ribbed-for-her-pleasure’ prophylactics, and his paramour’s 15-year-old sister with a 12-inch-long black plastic ‘marital aid’ called ‘The Anaconda.’ He thought they’d all laugh. Shock wasn’t the word for it as his girlfriend’s parents and sister unwrapped their gifts it was all she could do to keep Dad from tossing him out of the house on his head. Incredibly, they ended up married for twenty-five years and had children. Today, he’s waiting for Karmic revenge as some boyfriend of one of his daughter’s gives him a weird gift and notes that his thrice-married sister-in-law still has The Anaconda in her dresser drawer with new batteries.


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Ken Carman
14 years ago

Wow, that was a real life joke-a-than with the gifts as great punch lines. I’ll remember that as our national joke lights the national Christmas tree for the last time this year. Wonder if we’ll need the fire department to reply this time? Probably call it a “terrorist act” and lock down the country.

Ken Carman
14 years ago

“…a large faux wood Jesus clock whose arms spun around for the hour and minute hands…”

Ah, kitsch, it never was “just for breakfast.”

RS Janes
14 years ago

Although it has nothing to do with Christmas gifts, the worst ‘serious artifact’ I’ve seen was a ‘Buddha Jesus’ at a pious elderly woman’s home — it was Jesus in the Lotus position, and it was functional — the hands were intended to hold a dinner candle. On the base it said: “May Your Eternal Flame Always Burn Bright, But Not Down Below.” Talk about hot pants!

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