Holiday Horror: Our Biggest Holiday Disasters

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—if you’re lucky enough to avoid travel disasters, family feuds and the worst gift at your office’s White Elephant exchange. Join the Chicks as we relive our worst holiday memories. 

  Marla Cooper

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As disasters go, it wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t one of those “dogs steal the turkey and the leg lamp gets broken” kind of holidays. But my kindergarten Christmas pageant has gone down in history as my most publicly humiliating holiday fail. The music teacher was frantically handing out white robes and angel wings right before we were to file onstage to form tidy little rows of angels. (And yes, this was back when schools unabashedly put on Christmas plays instead of holiday pageants.) Unfortunately, she was one costume short—and guess who was last in line? I wouldn’t have minded being the only one without wings, but I was wearing a red shirt. Red. So the quick-thinking teacher, instead of arranging a trade with someone who was already wearing white, said, “That’s okay. We’ll just put you in the middle!” So there I was, the angel in red. Hmmmm, now let’s see, what other angel is associated with the color red? Oh, yeah! Satan. Totally not traumatic at all.

Lisa Q. Mathews

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So far our family has been lucky (insert Hail Mary here). Even that New Year’s Eve at the Elvis impersonator show in Myrtle Beach was fun. But there was last year’s cookie baking derby with my daughter and her two little girls…

It was supposed to be the start of a multi-generational, culinary tradition. I arrived with cute matching aprons for everyone (thanks, Pottery Barn) and a sleigh full of vintage cookie cutters. My daughter had already made the dough. Poor Eleanor, 3, had come down with a nasty cold the night before, so she had her very own pile of dough and a separate baking sheet. Alison, 5, NASCAR-ed the kitchen, fresh off her sugar-fueled school holiday concert, belting out RU-dolph the RED-Nosed REIN-deer to the accompaniment of hand jingle bells. While my daughter and I tried to corral her, Eleanor crafted all the “safe” cookie dough into tiny, virulent angels. My daughter assured her she’d bake them, but the decorating process was hampered somewhat when Alison chugged 1.75 vials of red and green sugar. After that it was Game Over, but we did semi-salvage one cookie for Santa. And yep, this classic tradition is scheduled again for Monday.

Kellye Garrett


My worst holiday experience actually took place in October. However, it did involve snow. It was 2011 and I had just moved back to New Jersey after 8 years in sunny Los Angeles. I was confident in my decision to move back home—and then Snowtober hit and made me seriously question my decision. Yes, we all want a White Christmas. A White Halloween? Not so much. To complicate matters even further, it was the same weekend as my cousin’s baby shower. Half of my family couldn’t make it. There was a lot of snow and, unfortunately, there were also a lot of leaves still on the trees. Needless to say, it was a horrible combination, with lots of falling trees hitting power lines, shutting down roads and causing tons of damage to people’s houses and businesses. I shudder just thinking about it.

Ellen Byron


My holidays have been blessedly devoid of disaster. We always crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t get a heavy snow on Christmas or Christmas Eve because my uncle was a NYC sanitation man and if it snowed, his garbage truck would be kitted out with a snow plow that he’d have to spend the day operating. But I do have one New Year’s Eve memory that I still feel bad about. I got a little – okay, a lot – drunk and hailed a cab from whatever party I was at downtown to my home on the Upper West Side. I had a great cab driver, and we chatted away the entire ride. When I dropped him off, I told him he was getting a generous tip and handed him some cash. He said, “There’s only the fare here.” I insisted he was wrong, and it wasn’t until I staggered out of the cab that I realized he wasn’t. I was. I went running down the street after him, but never caught up. I even called the Yellow Cab company the next day to see if I could track him down and give him his tip, but no luck. To this day I feel terrible about it. I am so, so sorry, sir! I hope someone else gave you a whopping tip to make up for my drunken bad math.

Readers, share your worst holiday mishaps in the Comments, and make us feel better!

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