Three read­ers re­veal their Christ­mas catas­tro­phes

From dire fam­ily din­ners to in­ter­fer­ing in-laws, Christ­mas can be try­ing to say the least. Three read­ers share the funny fes­tive mo­ments that have stayed with them the most...

Real Homes - - Contents -

‘I was about to pop the pota­toes in the oven when there was a huge bang and the elec­tric­ity cut out’

Rachel Mackay lives in Bed­ford­shire with her hus­band, Rus­sell, and their chil­dren Daisy, five, and Stan, 11 months

‘Be­fore we had the kids, Rus­sell and I moved back in with my par­ents for 14 months while we set about ren­o­vat­ing our house. We started in Septem­ber 2010 and moved back in just in time for Christ­mas the year af­ter. To cel­e­brate our first Christ­mas at home, we de­cided to host din­ner. I was so ex­cited to “do Christ­mas” for the first time – it felt so grown up.

‘De­spite the fact that our kitchen was tiny – so small that we ate at the work­top – prepa­ra­tions went well. The tur­key was cooked and I was about to pop the pota­toes in the oven when there was a huge bang and all the elec­tric­ity cut out. When we turned it back on, we dis­cov­ered that the oven had blown up.

‘Typ­i­cally, it was at the crit­i­cal mo­ment when ev­ery­thing needed to go in – the roasties, the pigs in blan­kets. I had a com­plete melt­down and started wail­ing “Christ­mas is ru­ined!” but Rus­sell was bril­liant and com­pletely took charge. His par­ents were away, so he packed me off to their house with piles of foil-lined trays to use their oven while my mum stayed and cooked the veg­eta­bles on our hob.

‘Af­ter­wards, I had a bat­tle with the com­pany to get them to re­place the oven. I es­sen­tially walked into the shop, cried and told them they ru­ined Christ­mas. But in re­al­ity, we had a good time in the end. Like my dad said, you don’t re­mem­ber the Christ­mases where noth­ing hap­pened – and we’ve got a great story to tell.’

‘I thought about all the other jobs I could have been do­ing in­stead of be­ing stuck in the loft’ ‘The cork flew out, hit the ceil­ing, bounced off one wall and onto an­other, then hit Dad square in the eye’

Zarah Mcleod, a hospice nurse, lives in Ste­wart­son, Ayr­shire, with her hus­band John, who works for a stu­dent loans com­pany, and their chil­dren Corey, 25, Jay, 23, Lola, four, and Beau, one

‘On my day off while the boys were at school one De­cem­ber, I de­cided to sur­prise them by fetch­ing the tree down from the loft to set it up for when they got home. I grabbed the lad­ders and climbed up, but as I pulled my­self up into the room, I ac­ci­den­tally kicked them. They col­lapsed, leav­ing me trapped with no phone and no one in the house to help.

‘I man­aged to get the dec­o­ra­tions down, but for the next four hours I was stuck wait­ing for the boys to get back from school. While I was there, I had a rum­mage around in all the boxes we had up there. I spent hours rem­i­nisc­ing over old photo al­bums, and I even found a box of old Hal­loween cos­tumes. For the rest of the time, I sat and waited, think­ing about all the other jobs I could have been do­ing on my day off in­stead of be­ing stuck up there.

‘When the boys came home, I shouted, “Get up the stairs. Hurry up!” I think they were a bit wor­ried un­til they saw me – then they just laughed. John told me I wasn’t al­lowed to use the lad­ders ever again. True to his word, we now keep the dec­o­ra­tions in the garage for easy ac­cess, and I haven’t been up in the loft since.

‘It wasn’t all a waste of time, though. I found a beau­ti­ful fairy that my mum, who has since passed away, bought years and years ago. We thought we’d lost it in the last house move, but it’s been on top of our tree ev­ery year since. It’s al­most like I was sup­posed to get stuck up there – some­thing good came out of it af­ter all.’

Char­lotte Clapham and her hus­band Sean, who both run a con­struc­tion com­pany, live in Twick­en­ham with daugh­ters Holly, 22, and Ella, 19

‘Our most mem­o­rable Christ­mas mo­ment was from back in the 1980s. My dad, step­mum, brother, sis­ter and I were sit­ting around the din­ner ta­ble af­ter hav­ing an ar­gu­ment. Ev­ery­one was quiet, so my dad de­cided to open a bot­tle of Cham­pagne to cheer us up.

‘He picked it up and held it at an an­gle. The cork flew out, hit the ceil­ing, bounced off one wall and onto an­other wall, then hit my dad square in the eye. I re­mem­ber it like it was yes­ter­day – our eyes fol­lowed it as it flew across the room. It felt like it was in slow mo­tion.

‘When Dad looked up, he had a per­fectly round ring around his eye and you could see where the end of the cork had im­printed onto his face. We were all roar­ing with laugh­ter. Luck­ily it missed his eye­ball so he wasn’t hurt, but no one cared any­way – we’re a fam­ily that laughs ev­ery­thing off.

If you want sym­pa­thy, you’re in the wrong place!

‘The stresses of Christ­mas Day just melted away and it in­stantly light­ened the mood. Peo­ple never be­lieve us when we tell them, but the cork had so much speed we thought it would never stop. The story comes out ev­ery Christ­mas now. When­ever Dad tells it, he em­bel­lishes it with an ex­tra wall or some­thing. It’s a run­ning joke – ev­ery time he opens a bot­tle of Cham­pagne, we all duck.’

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