Two anonymous contributions (from two different women with excellent memories) perfectly capture the hellishness that can be the holiday season.
1. My Dad was an undertaker in a small town in Northern Minnesota, Hibbing. Whenever someone died, if there was no investigation into the death, they called the mortician to come pick up the body. I think my worst Christmas was one Christmas night, when all 12 in my family were sitting around at my parents' house, and my Dad got a call about a head-on collision on the highway. For some reason, all the guys decided it would be cool to help my Dad go pick up the bodies.
The entire house cleared out except for the girls. They were gone for hours. They came back somber and depressed and the night was ruined. They talked about body parts strewn on the highway for blocks, about picking up parts of people and then those parts disintegrating.
Was there any redeeming quality to the evening? Well, we did get to feel superior to those who couldn't help as they were too busy throwing up on the side of the highway!
2. One Christmas Eve I was newly pregnant and desperately sick (not just morning sickness - it went on all day). My husband and I were invited to my sister-in-law's house for dinner and presents. We got there and they wanted to open gifts first, which dragged on for hours. Finally sometime around 8pm or so, we find out that they didn't cook dinner - that we are going out. To make things worse, there were no plans for a place to go, so we drove around and found a Chinese Food place that was open.
I hadn't eaten in hours so I was already really nauseated. The smell in the Chinese restaurant almost sent me over the edge. The worst part was that no one (except my husband) seemed the slightest bit concerned. Needless to say, that was the last Christmas Eve we spent with them.