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...
‘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.’