Sure, many of us have received bad Christmas gifts, but some gifts are on a different level of bad. Broken leftover cookies, something meant for the person your partner is cheating on you with, actual coal–these are just some of the gifts the following people have received. Read on to learn about some truly messed up gifts!
42. Wrong Boyfriend, Wrong Gift
It was Christmas morning, and I was around the tree with my family and girlfriend at the time. We were all opening presents and I opened one from my girlfriend. I unwrapped the box, and inside I found a flat-billed baseball hat, which was strange because I don’t wear hats nor did I care about the team whose logo was plastered on the front, let alone the sport. So, I pulled it out and held it up so everyone (but mainly my girlfriend) could see. My parents gave a quizzical look, and even my little sister made a “huh?” face.
I said something like, “Uh, thanks, hon.” Her face drained of color. She said, “Oops, that is for someone else; must have brought it inside on accident.” Then snatched it out of my hands. And then I held out the card that was attached to the wrapping: “Hey baby, love ya lots. Merry Christmas.” That’s how I found out she was cheating on me. Needless to say, it was embarrassing to have to essentially break up with your girlfriend in front of your family on Christmas morning.
One Christmas, my family got together and gave me a fake lottery ticket. When I opened it up they all played along and told me I should check to see if I won so I did and I won just over $3,000,000!
I was so excited and didn’t know it was fake yet, so I started planning out what we would do with the money and the fancy vacation I would send my parents on and the college fund I’d set up for my niece. They finally decided the joke had gone on long enough and told me it wasn’t real and I got super upset; it was extremely frustrating. I couldn’t help but start bawling my eyes out.
40. Wait, What?!
My then-girlfriend once gave me a stack of dirty movies on VHS as a birthday gift, no explanation. I started watching them and they were super low budget and sleazy…and she was in all of them!
They were old and it wasn’t something she was currently doing. She had already told me she used to be a dancer so I wasn’t that shocked and, in theory, the idea doesn’t really bother me and could even be kind of hot– if it was good smut. It wasn’t. Watching a bunch of greasy, ugly dudes go to town with my girlfriend wasn’t much of a gift.
39. The Most Expensive Gift Ever
Last Christmas, we had reached the end of all the presents and my mom pulls out one more. She says it’s for me and it’s the most expensive one here!
I’m thinking it’s a signed art print or something. Nope. It was my college diploma. I asked if we kept the receipt, I wanted a refund since I was still unemployed.
38. “What’s Up, Doc?”
When I was 13, there was a gift under the tree which was a big box with my name on it. True to my nature, I never touched it. When it was passed out to me by my father (dad always handed out the gifts), I started unwrapping it only to find another wrapped box. I unwrapped that to find yet another wrapped box. Suffice it to say that not only did the boxes get smaller and smaller but were also wrapped in black tape, then duct tape, packing tape, and stuff until I ended up with a little 2″ by 8″ box.
When I finally got that open, there was a carrot in it — and it was fresh. I, being the inquisitive type of kid, asked, “Dad, how is this so fresh when it’s been under the tree for a month?” He answered that they had replaced the original box with this one last night. Next question, “Dad, why did you give me a carrot?” He said that the doctor says my eyes are 20-20. I was feeling more than a little hurt by now. Worst Christmas joke ever in my opinion.
37. My Dreams Shattered
Back around 1990, my grandfather bought me a handheld radio. He got it cheap because it was the display model and didn’t come with a box. So, he borrowed an appropriately-sized box from my cousin because we were all staying at their place for Christmas. It was the box from a Gameboy. I had asked for a Gameboy, but my parents refused, so when I unwrapped that gift, I went insane with happiness. Then I opened the box, and had my dreams shattered.
My parents later told me that I was so obviously disappointed, but was trying not to let my grandfather see that, that I just stood there, unable to form words. Luckily, my grandfather took that as a sign of extreme excitement and gratitude.
36. With Sprinkles
When my grandma was a little girl growing up in Portugal in the early 1940s, she and my great-grandma were not on the best of terms. One year, before Christmas, my grandma mentioned that she didn’t believe in Santa Claus anymore.
Now, there was a war going on nearby, and my great-grandma was a single mother, so in her mind, she must have interpreted this as being ungrateful. That year for Christmas, my grandma got one present from “Santa Claus.” When she opened it, she found a dog turd with sprinkles on it inside. My great-grandma gave my grandma a dog turd with sprinkles on it for Christmas.
35. Lost And Found
When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old (early-’90s), my GameBoy mysteriously vanished sometime around Halloween. I searched high and low for it. I was really upset since I loved playing that thing during long drives and such. Well, Christmas morning came around, and in my section of presents under the tree was this crudely, poorly wrapped rectangular object. I opened it, and it was my GameBoy. I look over and saw my little sister, 3 or 4 years old, with the biggest, happiest smile on her little face. Her big, bright, blue eyes were twinkling and she was jumping up and down with excitement. She ran over and hugged me and screamed, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” and gave me a big kiss. My mom was laughing hysterically.
It turns out, my sister wanted to make me happy and get me a gift that I’d really love, but, being a small child, had no funds. So, she stole my GameBoy, and my mom was complicit in the act. My mom even let my sister wrap it. My sister didn’t understand that causing me distress only to make me happy was pointless. What she did understand, however, in her quixotic childhood innocence, was that love is what makes people the happiest they could ever be. So, there I was, holding my returned, stolen GameBoy that went missing two months prior, and staring at those responsible for it – my mom, who understood the situation in its entirety, and my little sister, the innocent baby of the family, who was so excited at the thought of giving me a special gift. I hesitated for a second, glanced between my mom and sister, but then couldn’t help but break down and laugh hysterically at how adorable this whole operation truly was. You see, the gift I received that day was a new understanding of innocence and love.
34. Super Mature On Dad’s Part
When I was 9 or 10, my mom and stepdad got into a fight the night before Christmas. We could all hear it well into the night. The next morning, they just sat there with angry faces the entire time we were opening presents. So the last present was larger and tucked away behind the tree. It was in a plain brown paper with just a tag. On closer inspection, it read: To: Mathias (Me) | Love: Mom and Jeff (But my mom’s name was crossed out.)
Yeah. It all hit the fan after I asked what the line meant. I later found out that my stepdad crossed “Mom” out as a passive-aggressive shot at her. She didn’t work at the time, so it was aimed at her not providing anything. My dad picked me up shortly after I called and asked him to come over. We never really talked about that Christmas afterward.
33. It’s A Plane, No, It’s A Bird!
My family was doing a gift exchange last year where you buy a random gift, and when everyone gets together, you put your gifts in a circle and pull numbers out of a hat. This number determines the order in which you pick gifts. It was my turn to go and I picked up the one box that looked the most promising. I proceeded to shake the box very violently, only to hear THUD every time I shook it. The person who bought the gift started freaking out and told me to stop and to open it. She bought a budgie bird and put it in the box.
So here I was, stuck with this brain-damaged bird that I had to take home with me and was scarred for life from being in that box. I’m pretty sure it has severe head trauma now. It ended up being handed off to a couple of family members over the course of a few weeks and is in a happy home now. I could have killed the thing.
32. This Is Why You Should Always Manage Your Expectations
The year the Nintendo 64 came out, it was all me and my brothers wanted for Christmas. We rented a system from Blockbuster every chance we got and it came in these black carrying cases.
Fast forward to Christmas morning and one of these boxes is under the tree. We thought maybe my parents had gotten a used one or something and we were beyond excited to open that puppy up. We saw the tag was from our grandparents, who were very anti-video games. Maybe they came around, we thought. Maybe it’s a Christmas miracle. We pop open the lid and sitting inside is… a typewriter. An electric typewriter. My grandfather thought we could use it to work on our typing skills. All three of us were devastated.
31. What A Thoughtful Sister
I once got this super ugly t-shirt from my sister. If I remember correctly, I was about 15 years old and she was 13 years old. I awkwardly said, “thanks” and pretended to be really happy about it. It remained in my wardrobe, and I never wore it.
Six months later, she told me where she got it: my own wardrobe. Basically, it was so ugly I never wore it and I didn’t even know I had it, and she took the opportunity to re-gift it to me.
30. 8 Years Subscription
My grandma got me a subscription to Nickelodeon magazine when I was 10. She kept renewing it every Christmas until I was 17. After that, she switched it to golf digest. I don’t even like golf and I still get them every month.
Nope, she has not forgotten she’s paying for them. She prints off the 12-month order confirmation and wraps it up in a box. She gets the biggest smile when it’s my turn to open gifts. If I tell her I don’t like it, she’ll think I’ve hated my gift for the last 8 years. Which is true, but I can’t do that to her. I just put on the biggest fake smile and act surprised.
29. My Dad’s Face Says It All
When I was young, I loved Pokemon. One Christmas, my family was opening presents, and we started getting towards the end when the “big present” would be opened. My mom got excited and handed me a present. I opened it, and it was the official strategy guide for Pokemon Yellow. I got ridiculously excited. I didn’t own a GameBoy, I loved Pokemon, and I thought I was getting a GameBoy and the game where “Pikachu follows you around.” Then I saw my dad’s face. He was very concerned. He knew what was going on. I wasn’t getting a GameBoy. I was never getting a GameBoy. I just got a book with a Pokemon on the front of it because my mom didn’t understand video games.
This wasn’t the only devastating present from her. One year, she bought dog treats and put them in our stockings thinking they were regular cookies. I was 12 and my brother was 9, and we thought we were getting a puppy. My mom shouldn’t be allowed to buy presents.
28. Three Sizes Smaller
My mother is notorious for messing with me about my weight and made me feel guilty about it my entire childhood. Now that I’ve been to therapy and reflected on my childhood, I have accepted that I was actually pretty thin, I just had anorexia and thought I was way bigger than I was because of all of my mom’s comments and actions.
I’m 20 now and haven’t lived with my mother for a few years. A couple of years ago on Christmas, I decided why not, I guess I could go over to the family home, so I did, and she “gifted” me with a pair of jeans that were three sizes too small. She knew that while I am small, I do have wider hips and a butt, but she likes to make me feel terrible, so she innocently said, “Oh, I thought you were smaller, but I guess not.” I guess she just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a jab at my weight again, even though it wasn’t that bad, it’s just how my body is shaped. I don’t go over there anymore.
27. But I’m Not A Barbie Girl
I was a 12-year-old, hardcore tomboy who hated anything remotely girly, or pink/purple/sparkly in any way. I was into dragons, wolves, bugs, Pokemon, LOTR, Inuyasha, collecting fake fantasy weapons, making dark OCs on DeviantArt, and wearing kind of annoying stuff like printed fedoras and pewter necklaces with crystals and witchy symbols and stuff. That kind of cringy little pre-teen stuff.
My dad gave me Barbie Princess bedsheets. Not as a joke. He has no sense of humor. He was just that oblivious. I lived with him three to four days a week my whole life and I was his only child. It still gets me mad. And I had no choice but to use those sheets at his house until I turned 18. They’re probably still on my old bed to this day.
26. Leave My Tummy Alone
When I got married, my mother-in-law told me I had to pick a favorite cartoon character because all the women in the family had one as their “signature thing.” I told her I didn’t really like cartoons, so she “assigned” me Winnie the Pooh since I have a big tummy.
Now, every year, I get Winnie the Pooh-themed gifts for my birthday and Christmas. So far I’ve gotten embroidered overalls, pajama pants, numerous stuffed toys, a stamp set, wall decals, ornaments, earrings, a stencil to use to paint him on my walls, and even a gift certificate to a tattoo parlor to get the ol’ bear and his honey jar inked on my skin.
25. A Gift With A Hidden Message
I was bullied a lot in high school. I was not the most popular girl plus was a mix of social awkwardness and low self-esteem because of bullying and isolation. The Christmas holiday came around. It’s my favorite time of the year, and we were two days from the holiday break. My classmates were exchanging gifts. We had a mandatory one for the Secret Santa — nothing really nice because the gifts were at a low budget, so lots of chocolates and candies. I asked a classmate who was giving out personal gifts, as a joke, if he got me a present. He was one of the few who didn’t bully me. I was surprised when he said “wait a minute” and started rummaging in his bag. I even said, “Hey, you didn’t have to…” He pulled out a dental hygiene kit…something you would buy from a dollar store-type quality. It was a set of a really shoddy toothbrush and a tongue scraper.
I was internally horrified and became super self-conscious. Was my breath that horrible? Do I have nasty teeth? I thanked him and he just shrugged and left me. I felt awful about my dental hygiene for majority of my life (until now). I also avoided him a bit since because I thought we were friends, but, in reality, we weren’t. I hated high school.
24. Recycling Gifts
My ex-mother-in-law was a strange bird. For starters, the ex-in-laws liked shopping for gifts months or even years in advance, such that for the first several holidays with my ex, I received gifts that they had picked out for his ex-girlfriend. It didn’t go so far as to have her name on the items, but they were very clearly intended for her with her favorite colors and motifs all over everything.
I guess they assumed the items were generic enough that I wouldn’t know, and maybe it was my ex’s fault for telling me so much about his ex-girlfriend, but I knew these were leftover gifts from his last relationship! I dutifully and diligently wrote polite thank you notes and then either sold, donated, or gave the items to my ex if he found them useful.
23. Literally Trash
When I was 10 years old, I woke up the day before Christmas sick as a dog with flu symptoms which persisted until four days later. When I woke up on Christmas, it was the worst of it and I felt like I was dying. I skipped the present opening and slept as best I could until my extended family got to our house. My mother made me come down to open presents with my grandparents. My grandparents had always been known as the best gift-givers; they always got us insane gifts, so I was excited to do it and even forgot about my sickness for a few seconds as I sat in front of my presents from them.
The first few were the usual, candy and some socks, a must from older folks. But then I picked up the main present. I was so excited and I just wanted one thing to make this whole sickness seem worth it. I rip off the packaging and stare down at a box of garbage bags. My whole family started laughing hysterically. Apparently, my mom told my grandmother I had been slacking in the past few weeks on my main chore which was taking out the trash. So my grandmother, not knowing what else to get, just chalked it up to a joke gift. I instantly started crying and my mother told me I was ungrateful and sent me to bed. I cried the rest of the afternoon from the incident and my illness. Ever since then I have hated Christmas and any other occasion where giving gifts is involved.
22. Plus The Receipt
We used to do a secret Santa in my family. It was about a $20 limit, and you made a little list of things you would like in that range. I have one aunt who was notorious for bad gifts unless it was one of her kids.
Anyway, she drew my name when I was 13 or 14. She worked for JC Penney so you knew whatever you got was from there. It was a very skimpy size small shirt with a gift receipt. I was never anywhere near a size small and had even put my size on the original list anyway. My aunt says she wasn’t sure what to get but to return it and get something I like; whatever, this wasn’t totally unexpected. I returned it for a whopping $0.73. Thanks.
21. The Reason Why I Moved Out
On Christmas Day, three months before I turned 18, with my half-brother visiting (I have only gotten to spend time with him a few times), I saw there was a huge present beside the tree. Like it was a good five feet tall. It had my name on it, and I was super excited. We saved it for last. It was all the stuff my father confiscated from me over the years: video games, movies, clothes, work uniforms, homework, school books, and a lot more. My huge Christmas gift was all the stuff he stole from me.
My father wanted the house to be “neat,” so he would confiscate anything that was not hidden in some way. Homework on a desk? Confiscated. Movie case on the DVD player? Confiscated. Work uniform laid out on the bed so you can change quickly after school? Confiscated. I don’t think I came out of my room for two days after that happened because I was so mad and embarrassed. I moved out the day I turned 18 and it was one of the many reasons why.
20. Yearly Diet Pill Supply
Each Christmas, the whole family (10-15 people at least, plus their guests) would get together and exchange gifts. Each year, I would get the same themed gift from my mother-in-law. I am overweight (just chubby), so she felt the need to emphasize it by doing things like giving me individually wrapped cans of slim fast, or a box of diet pills.
But my favorite was one year she gave me one of those neoprene waistband things that are supposed to make you sweat like a goat until you have a slim waist. Like, come on! Is my fat hurting you that you’re that bothered by it?
19. It Was Disappointing At First, But…
When I was about 11, my grandma gave me oversized underwear and this little coin purse that looked like an old-fashioned swim cap with big sequins hanging off it. I opened the underwear in front of the family and was kind of mortified (and probably showed it a little) but graciously thanked her as I had been taught.
Later, my mom pulled me aside and told me that Nana wasn’t completely all there anymore but that a little gift vendor came around her nursing home selling stuff and she had scraped up whatever change she had to get me a present. I was the only grandkid that she had gotten something for Christmas. She died a year or two later. I still have that little purse tucked away in my important things box.
18. He Wrapped Up What?
While I’ve received a number of bad Christmas presents over the years, I think I’ve probably given the worst of all. My father got remarried when I was about 20 years old, to a woman who already had three children of her own. The following Christmas marked the first time that our newly formed family would all sit around the tree together and I figured that I’d make it a special occasion. That was why, in addition to the small (and allegedly thoughtful) gifts that I bought everyone, I also purchased and wrapped twenty-four potatoes. No, I don’t know why I thought that would be a good idea. I just did it. These holiday spuds were smuggled into my father’s house on Christmas Eve, then hidden beneath the bed in the guest room where I was staying. After everyone had gone to sleep, I tiptoed down to the living room and carefully arranged all twenty-four of them in a wide ring around the tree… at which point, I discovered that I had unwittingly wrapped my “presents” with the same style of paper that Santa had used. Since the youngest of my new step-siblings was about 7 years old at the time, I wasn’t entirely sure that going through with my caper was the best idea. I did anyway, though.
The following morning, everyone rushed downstairs and gathered to open their gifts. My stepsister–the 7-year-old–immediately suggested that we each unwrap one of the twenty-four identical spheroids that she had discovered. Everyone else agreed (although I suspect that my father was just confused by the appearance of the presents), and we all tore the paper off in unison. A moment passed in silence before my stepsister looked up, grinned, cocked her head to one side, and asked: “Have we been naughty?” I’m not allowed to bring potatoes to Christmas anymore.
17. Let’s Just Say “It’s The Thought That Counts”
My grandma gave me a pen and pencil set when I was like nine. I thought it was alright at first. My dad had his own pens and pencils so I had a grownup gift like him, right? But they didn’t work very well and I kinda forgot about them.
Until one day in a grocery store when I saw the same set free-with-purchase taped to a carton of smokes. Uh, I guess that’s why my pencil set said “Parliament.” Thanks, grandma, for my free smokes pen.
16. Uhh. In-Laws!
My mother-in-law gave me a vegetable steamer wrapped in used Christmas paper. She proceeded to tell me, “It’s not much of a gift, but as you insist on giving my poor boy frozen vegetables at least you can steam them.”
And the best gift ever (Christmas) was when she gave me a pair of g-string underwear which more resembled dental floss. This was followed by my sister-in-law giving me a basket of edible body paints, motion lotion and a vibrating adult toy! Wow, just wow!
15. Jack Daniel’s Collection
I told my aunt that I liked Jack Daniels and instead of buying me a bottle of it like most people, for three years straight at Christmas, I’ve had Jack Daniels related presents and they’re all as bad as each other. The first year I was given a Jack Daniels lamp.
Well when I say lamp, it was an empty Jack Daniels bottle with fairy lights inside. The second year I was given yet another empty Jack Daniels bottle with glitter and water inside which I had no idea what to do with. Last year I got a pair of Jack Daniels sunglasses which broke within a week. Fingers crossed I actually get a bottle with Jack Daniels in it this year.
14. Broken Leftovers
I did a Secret Santa with a club at my school. The budget was around $35. For my person, I went all out and basically got them a bunch of items they wanted.
The person who had me gave me a takeout box filled with broken cookies. The worst part was that those cookies were leftovers that she took back home from our Thanksgiving party we had a few weeks prior.
13. But It Was A…
When I was five, ALL I wanted for Christmas was a Care Bear. Nothing more. My mother knew this. When the Christmas tree was put up and presents put under it, I spied with huge excitement a package the right size and feel as a soft teddy bear so I really couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to see which Care Bear I had been blessed with.
Christmas morning duly arrived and I immediately chose that present to unwrap first… It was not a Care Bear. It was a beach towel. We didn’t live near the sea. I still want my Care Bear.
12. What A Terrible Family
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve HATED the smell of cigars. My parents and Nana were chain smokers and everything I owned was dingy, stained, and smelled really bad. I believe I was around 9 or 10 this year my uncle and his blob of a wife came up for Christmas.
I opened my gift and it was a cigar case with a lighter holder. Blob said, “I wasn’t sure if you’re smoking yet. But when you start you’ll need that.” The next year she bought me a copy of The Newlywed game. What makes anyone think that those are good gifts for a child?
11. It Was The Opposite
My step-grandmother is the worst at giving gifts, but mostly just to me. I used to be a hardcore tomboy, and she would gift me pink bedazzled shirts and Barbie dolls. But the worst gift she’s ever given me was after she and my grandfather had just come back from a cruise in the Caribbean.
After she handed out nice souvenirs to everyone else, she tossed me a hair clip and told me one of the street vendors had thrown it at her, but it’s pink, so she thought I’d like it. What made her think I’d want a hair clip some random person threw at her? I have no idea.
10. Something A 12-Year-Old Wouldn’t Enjoy
My mother bought me bedsheets when I was 12. Sure, they’re something you use quite often, but for the 12-year-old kid who sits there super excited on Christmas, bedsheets were the one thing to bring you down.
And it wasn’t a sort of placeholder gift with something inside, or alongside something the 12-year-old would actually enjoy. Nope, just a bedsheet. So when all my siblings spent the next days playing with their new fancy toys, I had my bedsheets.
9. So Bad It’s Funny
I literally got coal. I was a straight-A student, never got in fights, helped in the community, never talked back, helped around the house, and paid for everything I owned since I was 12. My sister got a Game Gear along with games as her stocking stuffer. I got a piece of coal.
After the laughter died down, I asked if I could open my real presents only to be told that the coal was my present. When asked why and what I did to deserve it, I was told, “You didn’t do anything wrong; I thought it would be funny.” I stopped holding my breath for sibling equality or even something resembling it after that.
8. “People Always Need Batteries”
We were the type of family that made “lists” for Christmas, and at the top of my list was a digital camera. This was the before iPhones. We always opened our stockings first, and for some reason, my mother put a Ziplock bag of batteries in my stocking. I remember thinking, “Yes! I’m totally getting my camera!” But no.
Instead, I got a disposable camera. When I had the look of pure disappointment, she says it’s because I always break things, so this way I won’t break it. The worst part was that my older brother got a digital camera, which he didn’t even ask for and when I asked what the batteries in my stocking were for, she says, “Oh, people always need batteries.”
7. Full Of Jokes
One year, my mom decided it would be funny to humiliate me in front of the family. She knew I was very sensitive, so it was particularly thoughtless. She gave me some owl vomit wrapped in plastic (not from a “dissect and learn” kit or anything – just some owl vomit she had found). She also bought me underwear. Lots of underwear. And coal. And a cartoony “how your body changes in puberty” book.
I was 13! She kept handing me package after package. I pleaded with her to stop, but she made me open them in front of the whole extended family, and she kept laughing like it was the funniest prank ever. I left the room in shame, trying not to cry out of sheer embarrassment. Later on, she (loudly) chewed me out within earshot of the whole family, for being a poor sport and ruining her funny moment. She didn’t get me any real gifts that year, just a LOT of joke ones.
6. I’m Not Giving Up
My mom gave me a baby onesie outfit one year for Christmas. I’d been married for a few years and I had told her that my husband and I were officially trying to get pregnant. Except–it turns out I’m infertile. We tried for years to get pregnant: meds, injections, IVF, nothing. Eventually, we get with an adoption agency, get picked by a young biological mother–who changes her mind after having the babies (they were twins). We end up moving, have to change agencies–that adoption agency goes bankrupt after we paid them $20,000 (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP). Recently, we moved again and got into the foster care system in that state, and just when we were approved, my husband lost his job and we had to move again to where we both had work available.
It’s now been 15 years since I got that onesie for Christmas and I can’t throw it away. To throw it away means I’ve given up and I really don’t want to. But every time we move (which has been a few times now), I find it and it reminds me of how long and hard our struggle has been. I don’t blame my mom–she was excited and meant to be optimistic. But that tiny onesie has turned out to be my own albatross, at regular intervals reminding me of my failures.
5. A Bug’s Life
I’d say I was about 10-12-years-old at the time and into typical boy stuff. I had a brother who was about a year older than me and naturally, we played with the same toys and did the same kind of stuff.
Christmas rolls around and one of my older cousins gave my brother a monster truck toy. Nothing amazing but pretty sweet to play with. I open my toy and it’s A Bug’s Life figures. What the heck? I’m pretty sure my confusion and disappointment showed on my face because my cousin said: “I wasn’t sure what you guys played with…” We ended using them as pool toys that we’d dive for. But I always had to watch my brother play with his awesome truck.
4. A Monster Mom
The year I got pregnant with my first child (32 years old, gainfully employed with benefits, and I’d been with the father for over eight years), my mother flipped on me as if I was 16 and didn’t know who the father was. Her actual first reaction was “I don’t know what you expect me to say. I’m not taking care of it! Don’t expect MY help! I am not babysitting, I’m not buying things, I had my babies and I’m DONE!” Okay, okay, so that didn’t go well. Still, better than expected. My mother hated being a mother and she was not looking forward to being potentially saddled with another even if that was completely ridiculous. Well, after several months, she did start to come around, but at Christmas, she was still pretty salty about the whole matter. She was, for some reason–despite the fact that we got married–completely unconvinced that we weren’t going to leave the baby on her doorstep. So, for Christmas that year–at four months pregnant–I went out and bought my sister a ton of stuff. She is the youngest and I always get her a lot of stuff and I knew she was anxious about her place in the house now that I was having my own baby, so I got her a lot of stuff. I also got everyone else more stuff because I knew that would be the last year I’d have the chance. My husband’s mother and my mother both told us they were sending us a box of “gifts.” My husband called me at work to tell me the packages came. He said he’d opened the one from his mother and to open mine when I got home “so we can compare our bounty.”
When I got home, I saw the package his mom sent us. Her usual: a box of sweet and thoughtful gifts and snacks. I was so excited I put on some Christmas music, broke out the ornaments, poured myself some sparkling apple juice, lit candles, and got in the mood. I was pregnant and living on simple pleasures, so I wanted to do it right. When I opened the box from my mom, I wasn’t surprised that the stuff on top was obviously for my brother and sister. They usually come over to my place for the holidays, so it makes sense for her to send it to my place. I thought that my gifts must have been underneath the other ones. I dug and dug, but everything was for my brother and sister. Everything except this one painting that I had bought for my mother several years ago in a broken frame. IN A BROKEN FRAME. Obviously, she wouldn’t buy me a single Christmas gift the year I was pregnant! What kind of mother would do that?
3. It’s Not Cool, Dad
I was a young, gay adolescent teen living in a small, rural conservative town. One year, my dad gave his son (me) a pair of pantyhose in front of the entire family, and everyone laughed. My dad was an addict and a prick to everybody, and the other kids followed along because it was the “dad thinks it’s cool” type of thing.
My mom left him and nobody talked to him anymore, which is sad, but ultimately, it was for the best. My mom used to cry and pray for me not to be gay because she didn’t want me to “get a disease or burn for my sins,” but she is super supportive now. The whole family is now.
2. A Very Unconventional Gift
When I was 13 years old, my dad gave me a gift between my birthday and Christmas (they’re two weeks apart). We were at a restaurant celebrating something, and my entire family plus my au pair (nanny) were there. My dad had just come back from Nicaragua for a Habitat for Humanity program. Apparently, he was perusing the Catholic church scene and noticed a church was selling charms for different parts of the body that you want to be better, I suppose.
Here’s where it gets good: He bought me a legit charm made of sterling silver that was made to look like a woman’s “ample” chest. Remember, I was 13 at the time. He presented this to me in front of the WHOLE TABLE with everyone there, and there was no escaping this one. I guess you could say it worked because four years later, I’m a busty young woman. Despite that, I still feel like this is by far the most messed up thing anyone could do.
1. Just Make Something!
Six years ago, I got a children’s book on Ireland. I come from very humble beginnings and I don’t get a lot of gifts generally. But this one really got to me. Yes, I love books and reading. Yes, I love Ireland. No, it wasn’t cute to buy me a children’s book about a country I know virtually everything about. The year before, I got the Tao of Pooh and Assorted Works of Voltaire. Those should have been a warning sign. Especially since I owned both of them anyway.
TOP TIP: If you are poor and don’t know what to get your significant other, make them something. Don’t waste your money thinking you need to buy them something. Making something shows you spent time on it, and that you actually care.