Readers share their favorite holiday mishap tales

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published December 11, 2019

 Jennifer Hutley sits in her finest Christmas duds with her father, Herb Phillips, years ago.

Jennifer Hutley sits in her finest Christmas duds with her father, Herb Phillips, years ago.

Photo provided by Jennifer Hutley

 The Brose family finally got a real tree after three years of funny misunderstandings.

The Brose family finally got a real tree after three years of funny misunderstandings.

Photo provided by Sharon Brose

 Mikey Pochotko poses with his gifts left by Santa Claus some time ago.

Mikey Pochotko poses with his gifts left by Santa Claus some time ago.

Photo provided by Sue Pochotko

METRO DETROIT — Behind every social media snapshot of glittering trees, wonderstruck kiddos on Santa’s lap and families toasting over a bountiful dinner is someone who is haggard and weary and probably cursing a little bit after working hard to make the magic happen.

We asked readers to tell us about their funny holiday misadventures, and boy, did you deliver. Enjoy these amusing fail-la-la-la-las, and then head to the C & G Newspapers Facebook page and share some of your own.


Tannenbaum heist
Bill and Sharon Brose, of Warren, always had a difference of opinion on whether they should have a real Christmas tree for their holiday or something artificial.

According to Bill, for their first Christmas as husband and wife, he conceded to his better half, and they had a fake tree. The next year, Bill pushed even harder to get a real tree — something fresh cut, like he had as a child. Still, his wife was insistent that fake was the way to go.

Ahead of their third Christmas together, Bill had a plan.

“We were driving, and I said, ‘We’re going. Right now. We’re going to cut down a real tree, together as a family. We’ve got the kids with us; it will be great,’” he recalled. “And she replied with, ‘Bill, I am not going to cut down a tree in someone’s yard with the kids in the car watching.’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ She honestly thought we were going to drive around town and see some random tree in someone’s yard, cut it down and run it back to the car. For three years, she thought my intentions were to steal a tree.”

As it turns out, his beloved didn’t know about Christmas tree farms, where families could head out to select and chop down their own tree.

After that, the Brose family was proudly a real tree household.


Mom’s heart grew two ply that day
When Jennifer Hutley, of Farmington Hills, was just 3 years old, her father let her take the reins on buying her mother’s Christmas gift.

According to family lore, the pair went to the store so Hutley could pick out the perfect present, and after some browsing, she was sure she had a winner.

“I chose a package of toilet paper,” Hutley said. “And I told my dad, ‘I know she really likes this, because she buys it all the time.’”

Dad wasn’t about to poo-poo the sentiment, so home they went with a package of toilet paper, which he wrapped and put under the tree.

“She loved it,” Hutley said. “And she kept it under the tree for a while, much to the dismay of my grandma. Actually, I’m impressed with my younger self’s observation skills.”


Santa surveillance
The only thing better to a kid than finding a gift left by Santa Claus is perhaps the prospect of catching him in the act.

Sue Pochotko, of Roseville, almost interrupted her son’s covert operation to gain intelligence on the big man himself.

“My son was about 8 or 9,” she explained. “It was our usual Christmas Eve, with family over to celebrate the holiday. After everyone was gone, the anticipation of Santa’s visit became the focus, and we patiently waited for our son to fall asleep.”

While she waited for St. Nick’s arrival, Pochotko kicked back with a glass of wine and watched some television. She said she got up at some point during the evening to check in on her sleeping son, when she stumbled upon something unusual.

“He had set up the video camera, and it was focused on the Christmas tree in our living room, and it was on,” she said. “I don’t remember the words I used, but you can imagine what they were.”

That year, Santa coincidentally paid his annual visit right around the same time the video camera ran out of film.

“When I was able to watch the video, there was only me discovering the camera,” Pochotko said with a laugh.


Mystery muncher
Pam Coultis, of Redford, usually leaves the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner up to her sister, who is known in the family for her excellent cooking skills, not to mention her strict adherence to traditional family recipes.

But one memorable Turkey Day almost never came to be, thanks to one dinner guest who wasn’t too concerned with proper cooking times.

“About 25 years ago or so, she bought a large turkey, always 20 pounds or more, and took it out a day and a half before Thanksgiving to thaw,” Coultis said. “She put it on one side of her sink so it would defrost and the water would safely drain.”

As the first members of the family began to arrive the morning before Thanksgiving to help pull the meal together, everything looked in order, and some even commented on the impressive pink bird waiting to be roasted.

“As we sat at the table sipping coffee, chopping and chatting, she went to pick it up and place it on the counter to season it,” Coultis said. “As she picked it up, we heard her gasp and scream, ‘I can’t believe it. Who did that?’”

The massive turkey was now short a few pounds, as one of the drumsticks had been gnawed. A hole around 1 inch in diameter could be found on the side of the bird that was closest to the window while defrosting.

At first, the family wondered if a critter had come through the window for a bite to eat. A short time later, they noticed that one of the house cats was suspiciously hiding from the festivities out of sight. Kitty was surely the culprit.

But it didn’t matter, because it was 6:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve and their turkey was compromised. The family called around to local markets, who all had sold out of their birds.

There was only one option left to save dinner.

“The question became, ‘Who could do it? Who could remove the leg without doing further damage to the turkey?’ Now this was before cellphones, so we couldn’t look up on YouTube how to dismember a turkey,” Coultis said. “So, we did the next best thing: We winged it.”

The cooks gathered and watched with trepidation as Coultis’ sister grabbed the sharpest knife in the kitchen and carefully performed the amputation.

Once the drumstick was free, the group rushed the turkey into the oven and vowed never to tell a soul. Especially the family’s eldest brother, who was a notorious germaphobe and would never have eaten a cat-sampled turkey.

The official story told to guests was that the bird had been dropped while still frozen and suffered damage to a drumstick. Everyone bought the story, and big brother remarked that it was the best Thanksgiving dinner he’d ever had.

Now, so many years later, the jig is up. Sorry you heard it here first, folks.