Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Ghost Of Christmas Past

I think I have only ever had one naff Christmas
It was in 1990 when I was a student nurse working on an acute medical ward.
I completed the early shift on Christmas day with a miserable hangover ( and with a menopausal Dutch staff nurse in charge).......then went home, fed my cats...piled up all of the family gifts into my car and set off from Sheffield to drive the two hours back to wales.....full of Happy Christmas feelings and good will to most men!
Only my car wouldn't start!
It was cold
It was miserable
It was dark
I was alone...
and to cap it all..... I had no food in the house
Christmas dinner, as it turned out, was two individual pork pies and a mars bar bought from the 24 hour garage
and when I turned on my battered old portable tv (in my luxurious student pad living room complete with deckchair seating)........fuck all happened.........
I remember crying  in my deckchair , whilst drinking the dregs from a bottle of gin and listening to radio 4

Thank goodness things before and after 1990 have been generally more festive, even though I have often worked!!
So come on everyone.... give me your best (WORST) Christmas Stories...........
Share it with the group!

48 comments:

  1. That WAS a sad Christmas.
    I guess my worst Christmas was the last year Mom and Dad made it to our place for Christmas. We all knew it would be Moms last and for the life of me I couldn't enjoy it...I just wanted to cry..although..it could have been the next year when we took the entire Christmas dinner up home to them and I threw up in the car on the way back. All the rest have been stellar.
    This year may we all have a peaceful, calm, beautiful Christmas.

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  2. 1997. Just dumped, so was spending the time alone in my bedsit (a studio flat built out of the garage space that had itself been made out of an archway to a former coaching inn).

    Bought my dinner on Christmas Eve at 3pm on the way home from work. The shelves of the Holloway Road branch of Safeways looked like they were reenacting the worst depths of Soviet era shortages. No poultry of any sort, but on the plus side everything was reduced to clear before closing time at 5pm. Bought a shoulder of lamb for £3, potatoes, carrots, brussels and assorted other fruit & veg for 10p a pack. Looked through my recipe books and found a German festive recipe for lamb studded with raisins. No raisins, so used cranberries. It worked well enough for me.

    Worked emergency cover in the office 29th, 30th & 31st. Had invite to the New Year's do of the club a friend ran, in exchange for an hour or so working the door.

    Once I'd done my stint, I made my way into the throng. Was getting hassle from a drunken lout, so turned to someone I'd seen earlier and said "You've got a friendly face, prentend you know me until that idiot gets the message."

    That's how I met Howard.

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  3. Had proper influenza one Christmas, alone, in the Norfolk countryside - proper flu, not man-flu or a bad cold. Left work for the holidays and promptly went to bed for ten days solid and - when conscious - cuddled the phone for some reason because I really thought I was going to shake a double-six. Why I thought the phone would help I do not know. Didn't eat for two weeks. Didn't feel right for about three weeks! Lovely. Yeah.

    I laugh cruelly when people sniff and cough and say that they have "flu"! Hah! No, ma/mon cher, what you have is a cold...

    Merry blurrrgh!

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  4. Hmm..1989 was a bit rough, pregnant and had the flu. Spent the whole holiday on a camp bed at my Mums. My Mum is not one of lifes natural nurses and just kept my door shut and ignored me, while my Husband sat in front of the TV until I was better.

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  5. That was definitely a Christmas horribilis !!

    My best was 1993, the year I met Nick. I had my arm in plaster due to a broken wrist, had to eat nut roast for lunch as he was a vegetarian at the time (I later cured him of that with a bacon sandwich), spent the afternoon cleaning my motorbike (with just one hand) and was inexplicably deleriously happy.

    The worst was 2002, my mum having died suddenly, without warning, on 21st December. Christmas has never been quite the same since. I hope you have a nice time, even though you so recently lost your dear brother.

    Happy Christmas, John.

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  6. That picture (of a pork pie?) is pretty unappealing, I gotta tell you.

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  7. My Mom had a mini stroke on Xmas day so off to the ER we went..she didn't remember a thing!

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  8. Aw, John. Your Christmas was a right porker. X

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  9. The ghost of Christmas farts - don't get me started!

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  10. come on tom,...tell all... and all the rest of you too,,,,

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  11. That is one of the worst I could think of.
    Don't have any story that really stands out.

    Hope your weekend is going well, John. *Hugs* ♥

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  12. EWWWE! I agree with Scott, that pie is disgusting looking. It must be an English thing?

    My worst one was a "Hallmark" Christmas that went terribly wrong at my mom & dad's about 30 yrs. ago. We 4 siblings were quite rowdy and driving the parents crazy with a new karaoke machine. Mom was getting crankier by the hour because things were not going to her plan.The icing on the cake was when mom's Baked Alaska flopped and she started crying. I couldn't handle it anymore and burst from the table with "This doesn't have to be a Fucking Hallmark Christmas, you know!" (Never used the F word much in front of them before.) I marched outside and promptly drove home with my 11 yr. old sister in tow. Everyone was in total shock, but we all laugh about it now.

    I hope this turns out to be a good Christmas. My husband was admitted to the hospital with severe head pains yesterday. I hope they find out what's the matter with him soon. He's been down for 10 days now.

    My best wishes are coming your way for a pleasant Christmas, a happy holiday season and all the best in 2012, John!

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  13. Last Christmas was pretty awful. George had just come home for four weeks leave over Christmas and New Year. He'd been back just a few days when he got flu, real flu. It knocked him out for the rest of the holiday and even when he went back to work, out to Kazakhstan, he wasn't feeling very well.

    Jonny (our son) got flu too. So I was scurrying around making up the fires, filling water bottles, dispensing medication, water, offering unwanted sympathy (they were too ill) seeing to the animals, and frantically trying to salvage and freeze as much of the Christmas food as possible.

    In between seeing to them I had to visit our Aged Aunt who lives over 40 miles away(crossing my fingers that I wouldn't carry flu with me) as it was her first Christmas since being widowed. The weather was vile, the roads terrible. I tore from home to visit her, dashed home again to check on the patients, see to the dogs, hens, etc.

    On the plus side we did have a freezer full of food, the booze stayed in the bottles, tins of biscuits and chocs lasted ages!

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  14. A few years ago, I woke up on Christmas morning with a stomach virus. Everything was spinning and the bathroom floor became my home for the day. Unfortunately, I had a housefull of people who made merry as I spent the Christmas holiday mostly lifting my head in and out of the toilet. Three days later when I was feeling up to par, everybody else wasn't.

    I'd rather spend my time thinking of the good ones and except for the one I mentioned, they were all wonderful. I have teriffic family and friends who warm my heart each and every day.

    You are a very good man John, and I hope you enjoy your holidays.

    Arleen

    Arleen

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  15. All right. I'll give it a shot, just for you, John. :) I do recall one xmas morning (after a crazy night of partying xmas eve and little sleep) driving down to Derby from Bradford to visit my parents, with one old granny snoring away on the back seat, and a sister to my right who kept calling out "Carrie!" every time I dozed off and veered across two/three lanes of the (luckily deserted) motorway. That's more a funny memory, really. I've blocked the rest out...

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  16. Christmas.

    Pre 1969, brilliant. Most of them in the Black Forest, snow, sleigh bells ringing, Weinachts Markts, the works.

    70's UK. 4 day working week, power cuts, a Dad so skint he worked all the overtime he could and coasted down hills in order to save petrol.

    Late seventies early eighties, single and in the Army so I was expected to volounteer to be on duty over Christmas and New Year to let the 'Pads' as we called the married guys, have a real Christmas with their families.

    Christmas 1982, got blown up in Northern Ireland and badly burnt on bomb disposal duty. My left hand was useless. In the next room to me was a UDR officer who was recovering from his injuries with a smashed right arm. Between us we had a good pair of arms so we scooted round the ward, both of us crammed into the same wheelchair pushing a trolley delivering good cheer to the rest of the lads in the Military Wing of Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast.

    I am sorry John, you asked for horror stories and, like I say, Christmas 1982 I was a toasted fireball which is, I suppose pretty bloody horrific and really quite painful especially as I appeared allergic to all forms of pain management but I can still only remember the good bits of that Christmas. Rolling around the wards delivering tea to all the other poor smashed up sods and sneaking out from under the trolley the Lamb's Navy Rum that my UDR friend had, through his amazing local contacts and the no doubt selective blindness of the nursing staff managed to smuggle in.

    Oh I agree we might all have been hurting and many were homesick but there was a lot of festive spirit!

    There is a part of my more recent Christmases that are something I need to do but do not enjoy. Sometimes I put on a barbecue, other times I turn up with sackfuls of something useful as presents, like cheap Chinese made flip flops and old clothes. One year I managed to get all new mattresses to replace those ruined by children incontinent with trauma, both physical and mental.

    For the last decade, I have supported two orphanages here in Angola (http://hippo-on-the-lawn.blogspot.com/2009/07/antonio-is-three-months-old.html). In the Army it was a tradition, a duty of the Officer in Command (or his designated unmarried subordinate), to personally deliver tea and a large tot of spirits on Christmas morning to the troops on duty over the festive season.

    I carry on that tradition but my troops are now children living, despite the best efforts of the volounteers who look after them, in Dickensian conditions. And the best I can do for them is not an iPod under the tree or the latest video game (or maybe wrap up into a neat parcel for each of them Education, Healthcare and clean drinking water), all I can manage is a pair of rubber flip flops and a few rotten old clothes.

    They think I am Father Christmas. I think I am a shit because I couldn't do do more.

    I don't want to finish on a down note so I will recall your attention to the Army tradition of Christmas early morning tea. It is absolutely forbidden for male seervice personnel to enter the quarters of female service personnel. One of my lads enjoyed a raucous night out on Christmas Eve and ended up in the bed of a femmale soldier.

    As he woke up to the the female shrill of, 'Morning Girls, Merry Christmas!', he knew the game was up so, stark naked, he rolled back the sheets and called out, 'Two sugars in mine please!'

    He got 28 days nick.

    Merry Christmas mate!

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  17. I don't know if it would count as my worst Christmas... I was in college, and found out I had 4 wisdom teeth that needed out. I, being the 'get on with it' person that I am, decided to have all 4 pulled at once.

    I remember starting to hurt as the Novocaine wore off, being given a pill. Nothing much for most of the week, except dinner milkshakes. The one that nearly did me in, not for the taste, but the look was spaghetti in a blender. (Couldn't eat solid food for almost 3 weeks.) I nearly barfed when I saw the cup. Which is pretty much what the mixture looked like anyway... But like I say, I don't know if this would count as a bad one, because whatever was in the pills kept me sleeping and brainless for most of the time, so I don't really remember much! Except for that dinner. Shudder...

    Cat

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  19. beat hippo if you dare!!!

    tom (hippo).....you're life or more specifically the bits you share on your blog....is powerful stuff....often food for thought..a life that makes others seem like a dress rehursal

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  20. I've been pretty lucky with my Christmases - I've worked a lot of them and I've had lots of different versions. Pork pie's always in there somewhere though!

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  21. To MorningAJ

    A Pork Pie!

    What I would give for a genuine Melton Mowbray pork pie washed down with a decent pint of English ale. THAT would be a Christmas to remember. And on Boxing day, some Cheddar cheese and some of those disgusting pickled onions they always had on the bar of every honest village pub. Honey roasted ham? Never mind yer bleeding garden, I would dig yer whole farm over for that.

    But we are off topic now so I must stop thinking about it (actually I am slavering like a Nile crocodile).

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  22. Pork Pies bring me happy memories of going to Melton Mobray with my Grandad to buy pork pies...especially at Christmas which we spent with my grandparents...and they were magic. That ended when I was 12 and we were hauled overseas because my father was bankrupt and a family member somehow found him a job. We were reduced to a silver tinsel tree and about zero in the way of the traditions we had grown up in. I spent the next 10 years spending Christmas Eve on the sofa of various friends to avoid being anywhere near my drunken father. I probably sang that sad John Lewis song over and over...Once I had kids, I started to enjoy Christmas again, but there is something that still haunts both my brother and I at Christmas and we have to be careful not to get melancholy. After watching the show "Dexter" we now call it our "dark passenger" although we haven;t killed anyone.

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  23. I love that such a "simpl" blog entry gets so many varied and interesting comments!

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  24. Too, too sad to report.I'm concentrating on the one in hand as I always do. It will be enjoyable, laidback and no cleaning up for me! I'm officially retired from Christmas duty.

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  25. 1968 - Employed by Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade to 'Medivac' injured Australians from abroad, I was in Hobart, Tasmania. I was as sick as a dog after a tumultuous trip on an an Antartic Research Icebreaker escorting a scientist from Macquarie Island who had fallen while bird watching on the island cliff and suffered compound fractures to both lower legs. I was so ill from sea sickness that I just lay face down on my hotel bed, head over the side, dry retching into a waste bin!

    A picture of the Antartic Research base at "Macca" is located here - http://www.antarctica.gov.au/__data/assets/image/0004/53473/a5c.jpg -
    Authorative note - "Location: 54°30' S 158°57' E.

    Macquarie Island is a subantarctic island located in the Southern Ocean, approximately half way between Australia and Antarctica.

    Macquarie Island, or “Macca” as it is generally referred to, is a Tasmanian State Reserve managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997 as it is an island of unique natural diversity, a site of major geoconservation significance and one of the truly remarkable places on earth.

    Australia operates a research station at the northern end of the island from which a wide range of research is carried out."

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  26. tHANKS jON ...BLOODY HELL I am so f&cking boring!

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  27. I don't think any one of us would accuse you of being boring John.

    And, as you admitted, admirable that such a simple post could cause such a flurry of comments.

    But, having been tasked by you to think of our worst Christmas, most of us could only think of the good.

    What is it about Christmas that brings from us, however, briefly, the best?

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  28. Can't do an Xmas. But can do an Easter misery. Stuck on the side of the road (in the bush) at 1:00 am with the family and dog in the car.

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  29. Gin, pork-pies, crying and listening to Radio 4 - that was the Christmas I dreamed of.

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  30. Who could have imagined the pandora's box you would have opened with this post John?
    I've been blessed with wonderful Christmases...sometimes sad, sometimes lonely, but always blessed.
    It's been a sobering experience reading these comments, and realizing just how bloody fortunate I am! Cheers you..

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  31. I actually totally hate Christmas because my birthday is December 23rd and I always got combination birthday/Christmas gifts. Is that fair?

    I did have one pathetic Christmas. When I was 22 I moved to Toronto to look for work. I managed to get some sales work as temporary Christmas help but I wouldn't be paid until after Christmas so I had no extra money to take a trip back home. I had rented an unfurnished room in a boarding house. The only furniture I had was a fold up bed and my two suitcases. So there I sat on my bed eating a pizza slice and drinking a bottle of $2.00 Muscatel listening to Christmas carols. I did get slightly pissed from the gut rot wine so I really didn't care:)

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  32. Christmas Day 1974 - started out really well. Rhonda was pregnant, we were living in the married quarters of a brand new hospital in Canberra, all was well in our world and all the hospital staff were gathering for a bang-up Christmas Lunch in the staff cafeteria.

    The Medical Superintendent walks in, has a word in the D.O.N's ear, she indicated with a nod towards me and he walks over to our table.

    "Darwin has just been devastated by Cyclone Tracey," he says to me."Here's my master-key. There's a Hercules aircraft waiting at RAAF Fairbairn and a a surgical team is assembling. Get down to stores and open them up and give the team everything they need. Transport is on the way!"

    "Can I go too?" I asked anxiously.

    "No!" He says. "Those people have been through enough without your lot (psychiatry) playing around in their heads!" He walked off.

    I went up on the second team from our hospital 20 days later.

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  33. Very interesting stories. Honestly, I can't think of any "worse" ones, including those I spent away from family. (Maybe I've just conveniently forgotten the bad ones.) Now New Years Eve is a completely different story and why I refuse any and all invitations to NYE parties.

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  34. 4 years ago. I was in the mad Christmas shopping rush, slipped on the ice just right, and broke my humerus bone right off the shoulder ball. The emergency clinic gave me 2 puny vicodin pills until I could get into the orthopedic surgeon, and because of the holidays, I couldn't get an appointment for 10 days. I spent the holidays in bed in real pain, praying for the time to pass. Christmas Day was just a haze of pain.

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  35. One year when I worked as a Developmental Aide in a state facility for the mentally and physically challenged, I drew the short straw for working Christmas Day! In our cottage all but one of the eight residents had gone home to be be with parents, relatives or friends, but not Dot! Dot was a tall, well built middle aged woman who had been picked up off the streets and put in a mental institution several years before, now she was in our facility to be mainstreamed back into society. My main interaction with her prior to this particular Christmas was the day she had found a piece of broken glass, when I discovered her in the hall she was threatening to cut her wrist, there was no one in the cottage but me and the team leader and he was locked up in his little coat closet office (as usual). I grabbed the wrist of the hand with glass and that woman flung me around the hall like I was a bundle of straw. I'm yelling for the TL and she's a flinging! Fast forward, now it's Christmas and I'm to spend it alone with Dot for 8 and 1/2 hours, this is a Christmas that I'm not looking forward to...but you know it turned out OK, she was very calm very docile and happy to have company (we could have bunked her in to another cottage but nobody wanted her). So Dot and I celebrated Christmas and when it was all said and done...it was good!

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  36. I have now learned what "naff" means and what a pork pie is (sorry, ignorant American here). I can't pick one single "naff" Christmas...the entire month of December has always been cursed for me. Some highlights over the years:
    Brother in coma from Dec 1 to 31, 1991 (motorcycle accident); Step-mom died from a brain aneurysm while baking Christmas cookies on Dec. 23rd (1999); another family member died from cancer on Dec. 14th with the funeral on Dec 23rd (2000); My step-father lost both his parents between Thanksgiving and Christmas (2001);my dog was diagnosed with cancer Thanksgiving weekend (2005)and spent December 17 and 23 and 31 in chemo; I was diagnosed with cancer Dec 23rd (2008); my dog had to have eye surgery December 14th (2011; home recovering now). I've also had a horrible stomach flu twice on Christmas day and one Christmas Eve had my wallet stolen. So yeah, I'm not a fan of Christmas. I am now however, trying to take a page out of Hippo's book and focus on the positive (Christmas martini anyone??). Oddly, I found this post and comments uplifting (it's that, "ah, I'm not alone" feeling I suppose).

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  37. I was eaten by a crocodile one Christmas. Luckily he had a terrible cough and coughed me out again, only to be bitten by a venomous snake. Then, whilst writhing with my final breath, I was run over by a steam roller. Gotta larf though; aven't yer.

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  38. I don't think there's enough space here.

    It all started back in 1969...:)

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  39. Working night shifts on labour ward a few years ago on Christmas Eve and anticipating which woman would have the first Christmas baby - was magical then and still is now
    ..... Brings you back to Earth x
    Jane
    Merry Christmas John and fellow bloggers x

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  40. I have a wide range of "divorced mother takes me over to aunt and uncles, adults all get drunk, I fight with my cousin, it all ends in tears and drunken mother drives m home" stories from childhood. That one got repeated a lot. Christmas for my mother = getting hammered. Let's just say that I much prefer Christmas now that I'm an adult!!!

    My favourite Christmas was when it was just me and hubby alone one year, in our pajamas until afternoon, eating the turkey around 9 pm!

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  41. Reading these comments, I'm thinking you could create an anthology and publish it!

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  42. 1983. Flying from Washington DC to Pierre, South Dakota, (to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then in a 12-passenger plane with a stop in Sioux Falls before reaching Pierre). A blizzard hit Minneapolis. We were told to get on the 12-seater and get as far west as we could. They THOUGHT the plane could make it to Sioux Falls and knew it would not make it to Pierre. We flew to Sioux Falls in the blizzard. The plane lost heat; the pilot passed blankets to the back of the plane. We arrived in Sioux Falls and everything was shut down. We ended up in a Howard Johnson's for 2 days. High temperature was -37F (-38C). Windchill was -81F (-63C). Finally took a 9-hour bus ride to Pierre (a 3-1/2 drive). Arrived 3:00 Christmas morning. High temp that week reached -5F (-15C) and felt like springtime. We said we would never return to South Dakota in winter. So, in a sick joke, every family member who has since died has died in winter. We know they're laughing down on us when we trudge through the blizzards to their funerals.

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  43. Late to the party as usual! I do not have a worst Christmas story but last night Ron and I attended a housewarming party at an adorable home and we were the only guests who showed up!!! The hostess had a great array of delicious foods set out. I am hoping more people showed up after we left - we left around 8:30 pm after we watched the Wizard of Oz with the 6 year old. Actually I liked watching with her. She had colorful chunks in her hair too. Like a mini me....

    John, yesterday at the dog park we met Piglet..... I have a picture of her on my blog... she is a relative of Mabel's I am sure!!! xoxo

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  44. What an awful Christmas. My worst Christmas was back in the mid 80s, when I was sat home on my own with only a pot noodle for lunch. Luckily there was wine. New Year's Eve the same year, some drunk guy pulled a knife out on me and my friend going to a party in West London, we managed to run away. Actually I don't think that was the worst bit that New Year's Eve: when we got to the party we found 6 people who were planning to sit down and have a debate at midnight rather than welcome the New Year in lol! Christmases have been considerably better since then ... :0)

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  45. @ Hippo

    That sounds like a perfect Christmas to me......

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  46. thank you all... that was an interesting bun fight!!

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  47. That's a very long list of disastrous Christmases...some funny, some sad...hope yours is superb even with the minor kitchen tsunami

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  48. You know, why is it that we always remember the worst things more clearly than the best things? I can't remember my 'best' Christmas. Most of them were decent, but it's not like I came downstairs one Christmas morning and found Robert Downey JR sitting under my tree naked with a bow on his head.

    My worst one was last year. Two days before Christmas, Chuckles started coughing up blood. He wasn't going to tell me, but I knew something was seriously up with him and forced him to. I spent Christmas convinced his lung cancer was back (that's how they diagnosed it the first time in 2005). Seeing as he only has one lung left, I was really freaked out.

    Three months later, the docs said that because had had bronchitis 3 times in a row, and that was really tough on his one lung. He just broke some blood vessels coughing.

    Yikes. That was a bad three months that Christmas happened to be at the beginning of.

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