But before I get to the ultimate worst, let's visit with the runners up. One year I opened a pair of what I would have sworn to be mens gray flannel pajamas. In a size large. Basically, it was a big flannel elephant costume. The only thing that convinced me these were womens is that they came from a popular lingerie store (and the Secret is that Victoria wouldn't be caught dead in them). Apparently, the giver thought I had a burning desire for something that resembled prison garb from the Shawshank Redemption. I took these lookers back to said store in an attempt at getting a refund, waited in a line about 20 bra and thong toting people deep, and was then told the retail value of my gift was...drum roll...$3.99. That's right: someone didn't even like me enough to spend a five-spot on a real Christmas present. I gave the clerk the pajamas and told her to keep the $3.99. That's the cost of a lesson learned.
Another year, my husband's family drew names. Everyone took turns opening their treasures, and when it was my turn, I saw everyone exchange glances in anticipation. My gift came from one of the cousins who lives in Alaska, and I know now that she is a notoriously bad gift giver. She wasn't there to see me open the gift, and it's probably a good thing. Chick bought me a poster of a brown bear running through a field. Seriously. It was like a National Geographic centerfold, all wrapped up with my name on it.
Now listen, Eskimo girl: I don't know how they roll up in Anchorage, but down South, that is not cool. I am thirty some-odd years old and that bear is not going up on my bedroom wall, a la something during my junior high years out of Tiger Beat. I am not a poster lover and I am surely not a nature lover, and I suspect that bear cost roughly the same price as the gray flannel jammies. Man, people have just got to stop spoiling me with these extravagant gifts. Next time, send whale blubber. At least it's novel.
But now let's get down to business. There is one gift that is so terrible, no one can beat it. A family member of mine gave me the ultimate crap gift. Before I even opened the box, she had already proclaimed, "you aren't going to like it." Oh, goodie, now I really can't wait. The year before she had gifted me a Dust Buster and I really thought that was our low point, but she proved my dust busting arse wrong. I pulled back the box lid with timid anticipation and found: two smoke detectors.
I swear to you that I looked around for someone to confirm it was a joke. No such luck. Who does that? Unless you are buying for Fire Marshall Bill, smoke detectors aren't on any sane person's wish list. It was like she cleaned out the garage and found my Christmas present on a shelf with some leftover paint and a can of Raid. They even spelled "guard" wrong on the box (although it does state that is has a hinged cover--only the luxury models have those). Not only that, she didn't even bother to put batteries in the things. So now I've got a crummy present that will also allow me to sleep peacefully while my house burns down around me.
I still have one of them, just as evidence that I was the recipient of the worst Christmas gift in the history of the world. Any time someone complains about a present, I go to my laundry room and pull out the trusty smoke alarm and trump that whining. And I'll take it one step further: if you got a Christmas gift that's worse than mine, I'll give you my smoke detector.
Here's hoping you had a fireproof, flannel pajama free, merry as a bear in a field Christmas!