The Funniest (and not so funny) Holiday Stories

My life has inherent humor and irony built-in. I think it’s because God knew I was going to be a sensitive soul with a tough exterior so he needed to add some “what a story that will be!” to my life to avoid being downright depressed about a certain event.


  • The day after my mom died, I was obviously a wreck. My dad and sister approached me with “bad news”. I said, “What is worse than mom being dead?”. They said “Um, they don’t know where she is”, and I responded, “Like heaven or hell?”. Nope. They lost my mom’s body between the hospital and the morgue. Turns out it was a big misunderstanding and my mom who lived for getting good deals got a free cremation in death.

Humor saved the day.

Now with the holidays approaching, I think of those family gatherings that started with the hope of a Norman Rockwell photo and ended up like the Griswolds.

THANKSGIVING: Well, I guess I need to start over again

Thanksgiving was always “our” holiday, meaning the event happened at the Hardy home. It started with the smell of turkey as I woke up, followed by mom overworked mom refusing any help in the kitchen yet upset nobody was helping her, randomly bellowing “we aren’t doing this again next year” which inevitably lead to the yearly lie of “We’re cutting back on Christmas this year.”

As the family started to arrive, the booze flowed and the football games got louder, and the women stood around the kitchen offering help that was never accepted.

One year, gosh had to be late 80’s, we all sat down to a beautiful dining room table, the same one on which I am writing this article, and said Grace. We began devouring the food. We had one set of grandparents, 3 sets of aunts and uncles, 7 grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. I starved myself all day to eat this food.

I no sooner got my fork and knife into the air than I heard my oldest sister bellow “SHE’S CHOKING! SHE CAN’T BREATHE!”, and there was grandma turning blue. We all panicked. Calls to 911 ensued, the Heimlich was quickly given, and in my teenaged-mind, all I can remember is a blur of chaos and screaming.

Moments later, grandma finally kicked out the choking hazard. A piece of turkey, large enough to feed a horse and not chewed at all, flew out of her mouth right into the mashed potatoes. She was okay. Breathing normally. Sipping water. Calls to 911 were canceled.

We all sat breathlessly. Suddenly more thankful on this holiday of thanks than we knew was possible.

My niece, Amanda, who was probably around 5-7 years old at the time, broke the silence by saying, “Great-grandma, did you just spit out a piece of turkey in the mashed potatoes?”.

Grandma, in her eloquent manner she did with everything in life, wiped the corners of her mouth and said, “Well…. I guess I need to start over again.”

Here is my grandma as I remember her. She lived a couple more decades before she passed.

Humor from a little girl saved us that Thanksgiving.

The Christmas candle crisis

A few years later, we went to my aunt and uncles how as we did for every Christmas Dinner. They had a beautiful setup and tight quarters for the growing family. The “kids” table included people from 10 – 20 years old.

The youngest grandchildren ready for Christmas Dinner

I remember vividly being stuck in the middle of the table and hating it. I always sat on the edge for personal space issues. But this year I was trapped. Candles and holly adorned the table and we were enjoying the clicking of silverware and the humming of holiday chatter.

One of my male cousins, always wanting to put on a show, told me he could put his finger through the candle flame without being burned. Remembering the times he disfigured my Barbie’s as a child, I wished him well on trying. He did it time and time again to the amazement of the table.

Minutes later, he reached to get rolls, and I was in direct line of sight as this happened, and he leaned his head right into the flame setting his hair on fire. I said, “You are on fire” and between patting his head and water glasses being emptied in his direction, all was well.

Barbie would have loved to see that burned path of hair right at his hairline.

Banned from Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

As the Hardy daughters got older, we all went out separate social ways. Trying to get all of us in one place wasn’t easy. My mom begged the three of us to attend Christmas Eve Candlelight Service as a family.

Being the good Lutherans that we were, we sat front row. As we got ready to welcome little baby Jesus into the world my mom looked down the pew at us and said, “Don’t embarrass me.”

We were offended at the thought.

Most of the service was without incident. Then they handed out the candles and everything went south.

As I held my candle for illumination, I noticed wording on the drip pad. I looked closer and held back a grin — until I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I showed it to my middle sister who didn’t find it nearly as amusing as I did at first. So, I showed it to my oldest sister who at the time was my partner-in-crime. She burst out a laugh.

My mom’s eyes narrowed as she gave us the mom look.

By now, two of the three sisters were laughing to the point of tears. The third sister joined in.

Never had Silent Night been so damn funny.

You see, the drip pad had the obvious instructions to hold the candle upright. As if holding it upside down was going to be an assumption without specific instructions.

Even funnier? “Extinguish candle before returning to candle box.”

I was too wrapped up in my tear-inducing laughter to notice everyone had raised their candle above their heads. OF ALL THE STUPID INSTRUCTIONS, THIS WASN’T ONE OF THEM.

So I quickly pushed my candle up into the air, littering myself with hot candle wax right as we got to “Sleeeeeeep in Heavenly peace.”

Moments later we stood in the parking lot as a family. My sisters were still wiping residual laughter from their faces as my mom’s look got more stern. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice the hot wax all over my Christmas dress.

My mom said, “I asked you girls for one thing. Not to embarrass me. You couldn’t do that one thing for me?”.”

I said, “Mom. Seriously. Who needs to be told to hold a candle upright and to put it out before throwing it in a cardboard box?”. I was always the kid who had a mouth on her and I was hoping my sisters would come to my rescue but they just offered apologies.

She looked at me with disgust and said, “Never again will you three come with me to church. And all your Christmas presents are going back.”

My poor dad just sat there defeated.

Turns out the Christmas presents were not taken back and it lived to be Hardy family humor for years to come.

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor at Easter

Easter was held at my “other” aunt and uncle’s house. They weren’t quite as fancy and were into hunting. This house always creeped me out with deer heads galore and people dressed in camouflage while I wear wearing a brand new Easter dress.

I went into the “drink room” to get a soda. My annoying male cousins were there, the one having his hair grow back nicely from the candle incident. I asked what they were drinking. One said, “Here, I’ll make you one!” It tastes like punch.” It DID taste like punch, with a little bit of kick. I asked what’s in it and I got a list of everything from fruits to rat poop. Friggin’ male cousins are so annoying. But the first was good so I asked for another. They fed me three of them.

I went back outside and say by my mom, feeling sick to my stomach. Probably from all the chocolate I ate, right?

My mom, niece and grandpa at one Easter gathering

I sipped my new beverage to calm my belly. My mom sneered at me, “What are you drinking?”. I said I didn’t know, but that the boys made me a cool new drink. She sniffed it. Glared at me. Ordered me to not drink anymore and stormed off toward the drink room. I thought maybe she wanted one too?

My dad came and sat down around this time. My mom came back red in the face. She sat down, seething. My dad asked her what was wrong. She said, “Your 12-year-old daughter is drunk.” My dad’s slow gaze made me realize suddenly I was in trouble.

Now I knew drunk from what I had seen from other family members, but I didn’t know what it was for me. I wasn’t even old enough to drink. That stuff didn’t even smell good from when I broke into the liquor cabinet to take a whiff.

Turns out when you mix Whiskey with sweet and sour juice it doesn’t taste nearly as bad. My dumb cousins had blamed me for making a “Whiskey Sour” against their wishes. I had to convince my mom THEY made it for me. I just wanted a Coke but they lured me in.

Where is a Christmas candle when you need it? I stormed back into the drink room to the man laughing their hearts out. They promised, “It was only a little bit of whiskey.”

Thank goodness my mother believed me and not those hooligans.

Tell your stories

Holiday stories come with all kinds of humor, even when in the face of criminal activity (looking at you, older male cousins) and grave danger (check your turkey before swallowing, FYI). I want to hear yours! Share your favorite holiday stories with me.

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One Comment

  1. Msfab

    I enjoy reading your family stories, they are absolutely hilarious!

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