Community Care’s Christmas disasters

Christmas comes but once a year and mostly with lots of cheer. But not always…The Community Care team share some of their most memorable (for the wrong reasons) Christmases.

Sally Gillen, senior investigative journalist:

I couldn’t pick just the one so…

Christmas 1999. Everyone, including myself, was looking forward to this very special Christmas. My boyfriend and I had tickets to celebrate New Year in Florence, where my brother was living at the time. Alas, two days before Christmas he was struck down with flu and I got acute tonsilitis. Our entire break was spent in bed fighting over throat lozenges and a box of tissues. 

Then there was Christmas 2006…

As soon as I saw my uncle, it was immediately obvious that he was going to spend Boxing Day nursing a bad head. The tell-tale signs were all there: purple stained teeth, lack of steadiness on feet, up for a bit of argy bargy. Yes, he was legless. But none of us guessed that a hangover would be the least of his problems. Or that he would end up in casualty.

It started with a surprising question: “Have we got any paper?” he asked us. We looked at one another confused by the odd request. Eventually my auntie asked “Why? Do you want to write something down?” A strange response, given that he could barely speak, let alone write. He then said he had knocked himself and removed his hand from the back of his head. His entire palm was covered in blood. My auntie whipped into action, locating the first aid box and unravelling the biggest bandage you have ever seen. She proceeded to mummify my uncle’s head. Not a good look. By the time, my uncle eventually agreed to go to hospital, he looked frankly ridiculous. My mum – not known for her sensitivity – shouted after him, as he was led to the car that he looked like a teletubby. Cruel. Very cruel.

  Natalie Valios, deputy content editor:

My worst Christmas must be the one in 1999. Everyone was predicting doom and gloom in the lead up to the millennium and it came in the form of flu. My parents had decided that they fancied a change from the traditional Christmas where my mother spends half the day slaving over a hot oven, so they booked lunch at a restaurant. Not only did my dad pay for me and my brother, he also very generously paid for my boyfriend of the time and my two grandparents.

Christmas Day dawned and I could barely drag myself out of bed to phone my parents to tell them there was no way I would make it, I had been struck down with flu. But it got worse as both my grandparents were in bed with it too. So my parents, brother and boyfriend celebrated the day together while I spent the day on my own in bed sweating and feverish. My dad probably wasn’t as jolly as he might have been considering the price he’d paid per person, only to see three meals go to waste.

They all piled round to mine at 4pm when I feebly attempted to open some presents. I thought that was the worst of it, but more was to come. That night I woke at 2am feeling sick and crawled to the bathroom where I proceeded to lie on the floor until 6am shivering and shaking because every time I tried to get up I collapsed and felt sick. I remember lying there thinking one day I might laugh about this, but right now, if I could crawl to the phone I might call an ambulance because I feel like I’m dying. By 6am I managed to make it to the sofa and lay there for the whole of Boxing Day.

And that was Christmas 1999. Fortunately I was well enough to join in the millennium celebrations. In fact I found out later that lots of people had their Christmas and New Year wiped out by the flu virus, so although it might not have felt like it at the time, I was relatively lucky!

  Clare Jerrom, web editor:

My (now ex) boyfriend was meeting my family for the first time at Christmas. My mum kindly washed and ironed our work clothes, as we’d travelled to Cambridgeshire straight from work, and left the freshly-ironed shirt on our door handle (as it was about 6 30am). My dad – who admittedly is not exactly a follower of fashion – saw the shirt, presumed it was his and proceeded to put on my boyfriend’s work shirt for Christmas day! I saw my boyfriend looking at my dad and he asked him if it was his shirt. My dad claimed it was his but on checking the label, it confirmed that my dad had indeed swiped a shirt that wasn’t his!

My mum was busy in the kitchen all morning cooking turkey, trimmings and lots of goodies for Christmas. As my grandparents, boyfriend and I sat down to lunch, my dad carried the plates and vegetables through to the table but tripped as he was carrying a huge bowl of mashed potato which went flying through the air towards my boyfriend and crashed onto the floor. Now, I’m an only child and I can understand my dad being protective but nicking my boyfriend’s shirt and throwing mashed potato at him? I guess it’s not a surprise he’s now my ex!!

  Amy Taylor, senior practice writer:

Every Christmas Eve me and my friends go to the night club we used to go to as teenagers near our parents’ houses (it’s absolutely terrible and a bit like the club in Trainspotting which I think is called the Volcano) and get pretty merry. As a result I am always a bit hungover on Christmas day but usually manage to keep the situation in check and carry on with the festivities.

A couple of years ago though I must have really gone for it as on Christmas morning. I woke up with one of the worst hangovers I have ever had. Luckily this coincided with being given a gel mask that you put in the freezer to sort out headaches as a present so I spent all day (literally from 10am until 10pm) with the mask stuck to my face while trying to avoid to having to communicate with any of my family. My mum was not amused particularly as I was unable to eat my Christmas dinner which she had been planning for weeks. Each year I am reminded of the year of ‘the mask’ and asked how I am feeling after my night out followed by some gentle chuckling.

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