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Jingle hell! Your holiday horror stories

/ Source: TODAY contributor

"I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery." — Ellen Griswold, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Ah, the holidays. They’re usually a very merry time, filled with family, friends, good cheer and bosses on two-week vacations. But let’s be honest: Everyone’s had Griswold-worthy holiday, where the Christmas bonus is not forthcoming, and uninvited guests drive up in a junky old RV. (No? Well, surely the dog’s eaten your presents.)

We asked TODAY readers to send along their own tales of holiday hell, via our Facebook page and through And boy, did you deliver! So the next time you think you’re having a rotten Christmas, remember these stories of Yuletide woe, and go give your in-laws a hug.

It’s all gravy
“We always had Christmas at our house,” wrote a reader identifying herself as In Florida Holly. It was always a casual affair, but one year, the family decided to get gussied up and take a family picture.

While dressed to the nines, Holly and her hubby were making the gravy for dinner. The giant turkey pan was perched precariously on the kitchen island. You know what happens next, right?

“Reflexes dulled by pre-dinner wine, neither of us (was) able to catch the pan,” said Holly. She was covered head-to-toe with gravy, and no, the family pic had not yet been snapped.

“Two bright spots: I was able to eat more since I changed into yoga pants, and the dog had a great treat of gravy,” said Holly. (That’s the spirit!)

Turned away on Christmas
Denice Mancilla de Socha loved spending the holidays with her family, but her now ex-boyfriend insisted that she stay in town to be with his family. “I decided to stay, only (to have) him tell me on Christmas Eve that his family was not very excited about having me over because their family reunions were pretty tight, and we hadn’t been together long enough,” she wrote on our Facebook page. “So I had to spend Christmas alone. It was horrible.”

Why blind dates are a bad idea
Margie Langworthy didn’t have a date to a New Year’s Eve party she planned to attend with her neighbors, so they fixed her up on a blind date with a man they knew. “He was very nice and went to refill our drinks,” recalled Langworthy.

And then, the evening took a tragic turn: Her date suffered a major heart attack. At 11 p.m., they got the news that he had passed away.

“Can you even imagine how I felt having my blind date die on New Year’s Eve after only knowing him for about an hour?” wrote Langworthy, who added that she hasn’t had a New Year’s date since that one.

Santa, please send an ambulance
Last Christmas, Natalie Hanner’s two young children woke up vomiting, with high fevers. Later that night, when the kids were in bed, the 25-year-old Hanner started having intense chest pains. She’d been having them for weeks, but the doctors told her it was acid reflux. After fainting at her husband’s feet, Hanner went to the hospital via ambulance, and had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder. The next day, her husband called her in the hospital to tell her their kids had strep throat.

Flooded with good cheer?
It was three days before Christmas, and Laurie Williams was doing laundry. When she went to change loads, she saw water streaming down the hallway. “The city line was plugged up with roots, causing our house to flood,” she wrote. The water took out four rooms — including the family’s two bathrooms! — and they had “huge LOUD dehumidifiers” in place for two weeks.

The damage took three months to repair, and after the work was done, there was another leak in the laundry room. “When the original crew put in the new drywall, they broke a pipe!” said Williams.

The long and winding road
“One year when my husband and I were dating, we left his mother's house early Christmas morning for a five-hour drive to my parents' house,” wrote Eva Edgell Wilde on Facebook. “We ignored the weather reports and sure enough, the snow piled on us all day.”

The drive, on West Virginia’s slick, winding roads, stretched into 13 hours, and the two were stressed-out and disappointed to have “missed” Christmas. But all was not lost: Wilde’s boyfriend asked her to marry him that night.

And that’s where we’ll leave it. May your holidays be bright, your travels be safe and your plumbing, functional.