People will often say that it's better to give than it is to receive. That's certainly the case for the people in the following stories as they who reveal the most traumatic gifts they have ever received. These poor folks were on the receiving end of some of the worst presents imaginable, and it sounds like they are still living with the trauma from them.
So take a break from the holiday cheer and read what they have to say. Who knows, these stories might prevent some people from making the same mistake.
Content has been edited for clarity.
"My mother is notorious for messing with me about my weight and made me feel guilty about it my entire childhood. Now that I've been to therapy and reflected on my childhood, I have accepted that I was actually pretty thin, I just had anorexia and thought I was way bigger than I was because of all of my mom's comments and actions.
I'm 20 now and haven't lived with my mother for a few years. A couple of years ago on Christmas, I decided why not, I guess I could go over to the family home, so I did, and she 'gifted' me with a pair of jeans that were three sizes too small. She knew that while I am small, I do have wider hips and a butt, but she likes to make me feel terrible, so she innocently said, 'Oh, I thought you were smaller, but I guess not.'
I guess she just couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a jab at my weight again, even though it wasn't that bad, it's just how my body is shaped.
I don't go over there anymore."
"My family was doing a gift exchange last year where you buy a random gift, and when everyone gets together, you put your gifts in a circle and pull numbers out of a hat. This number determines the order in which you pick gifts.
It was my turn to go and I picked up the one box that looked the most promising. I proceeded to shake the box very violently, only to hear THUD every time I shook it. The person who bought the gift started freaking out and told me to stop and to open it. She bought a budgie bird and put it in the box. So here I was, stuck with this brain damaged bird that I had to take home with me and was scarred for life from being in that box.
I'm pretty sure it has severe head trauma now. It ended up being handed off to a couple of family members over the course of a few weeks and is in a happy home now.
I could have killed the thing."
"When I was 9 or 10, my mom and stepdad got into a fight the night before Christmas. We could all hear it well into the night. The next morning, they just sat there with angry faces the entire time we were opening presents.
So the last present was larger and tucked away behind the tree. It was in a plain brown paper with just a tag. On closer inspection, it read:
To: Mathias | Love: Mom and Jeff (But my mom's name was crossed out)
Yeah. It all hit the fan after I asked what the line meant. I later found out that my stepdad crossed 'Mom' out as a passive-aggressive shot at her. She didn't work at the time, so it was aimed at her not providing anything.
My dad picked me up shortly after I called and asked him to come over. We never really talked about that Christmas afterward."
"It was Christmas morning, and I was around the tree with my family and girlfriend at the time. We were all opening presents and I opened one from my girlfriend. I unwrapped the box, and inside I found a flat-billed baseball hat, which was strange because I don't wear hats nor did I care about the team whose logo was plastered on the front, let alone the sport. So, I pulled it out and held it up so everyone (but mainly my girlfriend) could see. My parents gave a quizzical look, and even my little sister made a 'huh?' face.
I said something like, 'Uh, thanks, hun.' Her face drained of color. She said, 'Oops, that is for someone else, must have brought it inside on accident.' Then snatched it out of my hands.
And then I held out the card that was attached to the wrapping: 'Hey baby, love ya lots. Merry Christmas.'
That's how I found out she was cheating on me. I guess there were tickets to some big upcoming game tucked inside the hat too.
In a single beat, I 'rewound' our entire relationship to mine for clues. Anything to make sense of it. I am usually oblivious to stark, bold in-the-face situations like that, but I remembered a guy randomly popping up throughout our relationship. He was a fan of the same team with the same colors as the hat. He stood out because I remember feeling that he was a threat, and when I saw the hat, it clicked.
All I remember her saying was, 'You don't understand,' over and over at one point. She tried to turn it into an argument to stave off the inevitable, but I wasn't having any of it. She didn't want to leave in the end, and after I shut the door, I was sort of invigorated. I felt like I had lost a battle but became a better man. I don't know what the feeling was, but it wasn't anger, that really didn't come until later.
Needless to say, it was embarrassing to have to essentially break up with your girlfriend in front of your family on Christmas morning."
"When I was 14, my single mom was struggling to afford to raise me and my 2-year-old sister. Being the good guy, I thought it would be a good idea to ask my father if I could move out with him to give my mom a break for a while. My dad accepted, and I moved in with him, his new wife, and her two kids.
The next Christmas, we had plans to travel from our house outside of San Francisco to his wife's mom's house in Los Angeles for the holiday. But before we were to go celebrate Christmas, my dad told me to come along with him to Dallas to check out a construction site he was managing.
When we left for Dallas, I was thinking that it would be a great chance for the two of us to bond. Things hadn't been that great between us leading up to the trip. I had gotten into some trouble and my dad didn't really know how to handle raising a teenager. I thought this trip would give us the time to talk about our living situation.
We were picked up at the airport by three guys who took us to an office where my dad and I sat and talked to another man. This guy started explaining that we were at an in-patient rehabilitation center for kids, that I would be there a minimum of six months, and that my dad would be leaving. I wasn't having it.
As I sat there on the floor, being held in a four-point restraint, I watched my dad walk out the door without even saying goodbye or answering my pleas asking why he was doing this to me.
The place was a nightmare. My dad left me there three days before Christmas. It took my mom four months to get out of him where I was and then to get my uncle (who lived nearby) to get me out. In that time, I had no contact with anyone outside of the facility. I was abused - mentally and physically - and pretty much gave up on trying to live.
So there, Merry Christmas to me.
It's in the past now and its always driven me to try and be a different kind of dad to my kids. I feel no ill will towards my dad, though I feel no loss for not having him in my life either."
"I was a young, gay adolescent teen living in a small, rural conservative town. One year, my dad gave his son (me) a pair of pantyhose in front of the entire family, and everyone laughed.
My dad was an addict and a prick to everybody, and the other kids followed along because it was the 'dad thinks it's cool' type of thing.
My mom left him and nobody talked to him anymore, which is sad, but ultimately, it was for the best. My mom used to cry and pray for me not to be gay because she didn't want me to 'get aids or burn for my sins,' but she is super supportive now. The whole family is now."
"The year I got pregnant with my first child (32 years old, gainfully employed with benefits, and I'd been with the father for over eight years), my mother flipped on me as if I was 16 and didn't know who the father was. Her actual first reaction was 'I don't know what you expect me to say. I'm not taking care of it! Don't expect MY help! I am not babysitting, I'm not buying things, I had my babies and I'm DONE!'
Okay, okay, so that didn't go well. Still, better than expected. My mother hated being a mother and she was not looking forward to being potentially saddled with another even if that was completely ridiculous.
Well, after several months, she did start to come around, but at Christmas, she was still pretty salty about the whole matter. She was, for some reason - despite the fact that we got married - completely unconvinced that we weren't going to leave the baby on her doorstep. So, for Christmas that year - at four-months pregnant - I went out and bought my sister a ton of stuff. She is the youngest and I always get her a lot of stuff and I knew she was anxious about her place in the house now that I was having my own baby, so I got her a lot of stuff. I also got everyone else more stuff because I knew that would be the last year I'd have the chance.
My husband's mother and my mother both told us they were sending us a box of 'gifts.' My husband called me at work to tell me the packages came. He said he'd opened the one from his mother and to open mine when I got home 'so we can compare our bounty.' When I got home, I saw the package his mom sent us. Her usual: a box of sweet and thoughtful gifts and snacks. I was so excited I put on some Christmas music, broke out the ornaments, poured myself some sparkling apple juice, lit candles, and got in the mood. I was pregnant and living on simple pleasures, so I wanted to do it right.
When I opened the box from my mom, I wasn't surprised that the stuff on top was obviously for my brother and sister. They usually come over to my place for the holidays, so it makes sense for her to send it to my place. I thought that my gifts must have been underneath the other ones. I dug and dug, but everything was for my brother and sister. Everything except this one painting that I had bought for my mother several years ago in a broken frame. IN A BROKEN FRAME.
I wondered if this was a jab? Or was it some kind of horrible mistake? Maybe there were two boxes. Maybe the other box just hasn't shown up yet. Maybe she was just sending me my siblings' gifts early so I could wrap them and mine would be following. Obviously, she wouldn't not buy me a single Christmas gift the year I was pregnant! What kind of mother would do that? And I wondered about the painting. It must've been a mistake. Maybe she was sending it for my sister or something because surely she didn't send me a box of gifts for everyone but me except for a painting I bought her in a broken frame? Surely!
Nope. That was it. No other gifts came that year. Nothing. I held Christmas at my house the year I was pregnant and didn't have a single gift to open because I bought everyone else gifts and no one - including my mother - bought me a single gift. Not even a gift card. Not even a preemptive baby gift. Nothing but a painting I bought in a broken frame.
I choked on that for a bit. It was pretty cruel of her to do that, and with my hormones going crazy, I was in no mood for this, but I sucked it up. I realize my mother is a self-obsessed narcissist. She was mad about me having a baby and had to find some way to make the situation about her. She was bitter about not being able to find a way to do so. I figured she was making a point that 'No one bought ME Christmas gifts when I was a mom, you want to be a mom, you don't get any Christmas gifts.'
It took a while to find the words to confront her about this but it happened. We had a long tearful conversation about what a terrible mother she had been to me. She apologized and claimed she didn't realize how hurtful she was being. I believe her, too. It's hard to recognize when you're being hurtful when you lack the ability to effectively empathize with others.
As for the rest of my family, well, they're all kind of inconsiderate. My husband has literally never bought me an actual gift with me in mind other than my wedding ring and routinely uses necessities that he purchases for both of us as an excuse or substitute for a thoughtful gift. My siblings also never get me anything, mostly because I'm the oldest and there is no precedence for it. I buy them gifts, they don't buy me gifts. To be fair, historically speaking, I have made more money and been more stable than them. However, considering they are both in their late twenties now that point has become increasingly mute."
"When I was 10 years old, I woke up the day before Christmas sick as a dog with flu symptoms which persisted until four days later. When I woke up on Christmas, it was the worst of it and I felt like I was dying. I skipped the present opening and slept as best I could until my extended family got to our house. My mother made me come down to open presents with my grandparents.
My grandparents had always been known as the best gift givers they, always got us insane gifts, so I was excited to do it and even forgot about my sickness for a few seconds as I sat in front of my presents from them. The first few were the usual, candy and some socks, a must from older folks. But then I picked up the main present. I was so excited and I just wanted one thing to make this whole sickness seem worth it. I rip off the packaging and stair down at a box of garbage bags. My whole family started laughing hysterically.
Apparently, my mom told my grandmother I had been slacking in the past few weeks on my main chore which was taking out the trash. So my grandmother not knowing what else to get just chalked it up to a joke gift. I instantly started crying and my mother told me I was ungrateful and sent me to bed. I cried the rest of the afternoon from the incident and my illness.
Ever since then I have hated Christmas and any other occasion where giving gifts is involved."
"When my grandma was a little girl growing up in Portugal in the early 1940s, she and my great grandma were not on the best of terms.
One year, before Christmas, my grandma mentioned that she didn't believe in Santa Claus anymore. Now, there was a war going on nearby, and my great grandma was a single mother, so in her mind, she must have interpreted this as being ungrateful.
That year for Christmas, my grandma got one present from 'Santa Claus".' When she opened it, she found a dog turd with sprinkles on it inside.
My great grandma gave my grandma a dog turd with sprinkles on it for Christmas."
"My high school picked out a handful of students who they considered 'high potential underachievers.' Among this group was me, despite my low-A average. At our graduation, they called us up to the stage to give us booklets about having a positive attitude. As in, the booklets literally offered such gems as 'Try approaching everything with a can-do attitude instead of a can't-do attitude!' and 'Put on a smile every day!' and 'If you're friendly and outgoing, people will like you better!'
Throughout high school, I suffered from extremely debilitating depression and the other award-recipients were dealing with similarly bleak personal lives. So someone in the high school was seeing us struggling, realized we could technically be doing better, and assumed that our problems were due to our own negative attitudes. Then, they decided to memorialize it by giving us a 'Buck up, champ!' booklet on the last day we'd ever see them, in front of all our peers.
It was so absurdly offensive that I just sort of laughed it off. My mother was angry on my behalf. I regret not taking the opportunity to chew them out over it, but it's water under the bridge now."
"When I was young, I loved Pokemon. One Christmas, my family was opening presents, and we started getting towards the end when the 'big present' would be opened. My mom got excited and handed me a present. I opened it, and it was the official strategy guide for Pokemon Yellow.
I got ridiculously excited. I didn't own a GameBoy, I loved Pokemon, and I thought I was getting a GameBoy and the game where PIKACHU FOLLOWS YOU AROUND.
Then I saw my dad's face. He was very concerned. He knew what was going on. I wasn't getting a GameBoy. I was never getting a GameBoy. I just got a book with a Pokemon on the front of it because my mom didn't understand video games.
This wasn't the only devastating present from her. One year, she bought dog treats and put them in our stockings thinking they were regular cookies. I was 12 and my brother was 9, and we thought we were getting a puppy. My mom shouldn't be allowed to buy presents."
"When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old (early-'90s), my GameBoy mysteriously vanished sometime around Halloween. I searched high and low for it. I was really upset since I loved playing that thing during long drives and such.
Well, Christmas morning came around, and in my section of presents under the tree was this crudely, poorly wrapped rectangular object. I opened it, and it was my GameBoy.
I look over and saw my little sister, 3 or 4 years old, with the biggest, happiest smile on her little face. Her big, bright, blue eyes were twinkling and she was jumping up and down with excitement.
She ran over and hugged me and screamed, 'MERRY CHRISTMAS!' and gave me a big kiss. My mom was laughing hysterically.
It turns out, my sister wanted to make me happy and get me a gift that I'd really love, but, being a small child, had no funds. So, she stole my GameBoy, and my mom was complicit in the act. My mom even let my sister wrap it.
My sister didn't understand that causing me distress only to make me happy was pointless. What she did understand, however, in her quixotic childhood innocence, was that love is what makes people the happiest they could ever be.
So, there I was, holding my returned, stolen GameBoy that went missing two months prior, and staring at those responsible for it - my mom, who understood the situation in its entirety, and my little sister, the innocent baby of the family, who was so excited at the thought of giving me a special gift.
I hesitated for a second, glanced between my mom and sister, but then couldn't help but break down and laugh hysterically at how adorable this whole operation truly was. You see, the gift I received that day was a new understanding of innocence and love."
My husband's extended family invited us over for Christmas breakfast (we aren't religious; they're catholic) and as we sat around chatting after the meal they started handing out gifts to every family member but us, and flat out said we weren't being included because we don't go to church. My husband was speechless; we left immediately. I refused to have anything to do with them from then on."
"One year, my mom decided it would be funny to humiliate me in front of the family. She knew I was very sensitive, so it was particularly thoughtless. She gave me some owl vomit wrapped in plastic (not from a 'dissect and learn' kit or anything - just some owl vomit she had found). She also bought me underwear. Lots of underwear. And coal. And a cartoony 'how your body changes in puberty' book.
I was 13!
She kept handing me package after package. I pleaded with her to stop, but she made me open them in front of the whole extended family, and she kept laughing like it was the funniest prank ever.
I left the room in shame, trying not to cry out of sheer embarrassment. Later on, she (loudly) chewed me out within earshot of the whole family, for being a poor sport and ruining her funny moment.
She didn't get me any real gifts that year, just a LOT of joke ones."
"When I was 13 years old, my dad gave me a gift between my birthday and Christmas (they're two weeks apart). We were at a restaurant celebrating something, and my entire family plus my au pair (nanny) were there.
My dad had just come back from Nicaragua for a Habitat for Humanity program. Apparently, he was perusing the Catholic church scene and noticed a church was selling charms for different parts of the body that you want to be better, I suppose.
Here's where it gets good: He bought me a legit charm made of sterling silver that was made to look like a woman's 'ample' chest.
Remember, I was 13 at the time.
He presented this to me in front of the WHOLE TABLE with everyone there, and there was no escaping this one.
I guess you could say it worked because four years later, I'm a busty young woman. Despite that, I still feel like this is by far the most messed up thing anyone could do."