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Sunday, December 23, 2012
In the latest of our Christmas Top 10’s, ten of our writers look back on their worst Christmas presents. Tell us yours by leaving a comment below.
Mark Shields, Norwich reporter
Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Homer gives Marge a bowling ball for her birthday, complete with a thoughtful name engraving? Except the name engraved isnt hers, but his?
I understood the way Marge felt the morning I unwrapped my home chemistry set.
My dad, a scientist, had always wanted me to take an interest in what he did, probably with the idea that I would follow in his footsteps.
But making me do classroom experiments in my free time was not the way to win me over. It took just one freezing cold hour in the garage struggling with a paraffin burner before I packed it up, defeated and bored.
But that didnt stop my dad impressing my brother with all manner of fizzing potions and exploding reactions (dont ask me what they were).
He went on to study medicine; I became a journalist. Kids can be so ungrateful.
Kate Scotter, Norwich reporter
A few years ago, my sister and I received matching perfume/body lotion/body wash/soap sets. The sentiment was great, as we both love smellies, but unfortunately in this instance, smellies was the operative word. The fragrance was awful - the kind of musk even a musk ox would find repellent.
So we both said our thank yous and donated both sets to a charity shop come the new year. I hope I dont sound ungrateful, but I dont think anyone would have stood within a 10-metre radius of me if Id washed/lotioned/perfumed myself with it....
Richard Wheeler, local government correspondent
There are two worst presents Ive received from my parents since the lists to Father Christmas have dried up. The first was a portable snow shovel from my mum. One day Im sure this will prove its worth but the glory surrounding receiving such a present faded when my dad also unwrapped a portable snow shovel, and so did my sister.
The second was a Band of Brothers DVD box set from my dad. I love the Second World War television series, I really do. The problem was, however, that Id previously given the box set to him for his birthday. It was the same copy.
David Powles, assistant editor
Bless poor parents trying to keep in touch with the latest trends and fashions. It was obvious to my mother that I was keen on my music. The songs blaring from my room, repeated requests for lifts to gigs and a large array of band t-shirts were just a few of the clues. What she struggled to comprehend was what exactly I was into. So when I opened up what was obviously a CD to be confronted with the latest Savage Garden album, it wasnt exactly what a wannabe-trendy indie kid wanted to see. Listen to them if you want to know why.
Richard Wood, Beccles reporter
Secret Santa always seems like a good idea, but is it really? First theres the pressure of having to buy a decent present, and you just know youre going to pick out the person you know the least, and then theres the receiving of the present from someone in exactly the same boat. At sixth form I seem to remember receiving some novelty chocolates. The sentiment was fine, the problem was that for the 5 limit I got about as much chocolate as a snack bar and the taste on a par with American chocolate. So as I looked around the common room full of impressive chocolate collections and 1kg bars, I couldnt help but feel that Id missed out.
Dan Grimmer, local government correspondent
Maybe Im just easily pleased, but I dont think Ive ever had a worst Christmas present. However, what I do have is a really good present which causes me to be racked with guilt.
Its an expensive telescope which my wife kindly bought me, but which sits in the corner of the house simultaneously gathering dust and taunting me.
This is because I think I put it together wrongly and I cant figure out how to actually see anything through it. So it remains unused.
Every so often well be watching TV and something like Stargazing Live comes on. Shell turn to me and ask me when Im going to use that telescope and the guilt washes over me.
It was a great present, but, due to my practical ineptitude, it haunts me and has done for about three years now.
Stacia Briggs, columnist and feature writer
I wear black. I have worn black, and only black, for more than 30 years which is, ironically, a red rag to bullish present buyers.
Inevitably, practically every Christmas, I am presented with clothing which isnt black as if the concept that other colours exist hasnt ever crossed my mind.
This is simultaneously the gift that says: I think you look boring! and I thought about what you might like and then got you this anyway.
Scarves I can cope with. The infamous Floral Jacket Nightmare of 1995 almost set World War Three in motion. The moral: if its not black, take it back - or include the receipt. Please.
David Freezer, Norwich reporter
My worst Christmas present very nearly brought me to tears, when I was around 10 years old.
I rushed downstairs on Christmas morning with my brother and sister to find a huge box almost as big as me with my name on it.
That year I had asked for a steering wheel and pedals for driving games on my Nintendo 64 games console, but this box was far too big for that so my mind was racing with ideas.
When I was finally allowed to get at the box I soon discovered that there was another box inside, and another, and another, and another each getting smaller and smaller, like a Russian doll.
By the time I got to the final small box full of polystyrene chips, I was pretty confused and deflated.
Finally I made it to the bottom and found an envelope. As the tears welled up at the thought of my dad just giving me a cheque for Christmas rather than a present, he encouraged me to open it.
Inside was a simple message; look behind the sofa.
And fortunately, there was the present I had wanted, the N64 steering wheel and pedals, so the story ends well.
However, after the plan very nearly backfired, my dad didnt attempt the big box approach again.
Hes 50 now, maybe I should try that approach with him this year and see if I can make him cry? Love you really dad!
Lucy Clapham, Yarmouth reporter
My worst Christmas present wasnt necessarily the gift itself rather the way it was presented.
This particular year my family had gone to my grandparents for the festive celebrations, where we joined other members of the extended family. After dinner the youngsters were allowed to dive under the tree to collect their gifts.
After much searching I found my one and only present. Plucking it from the huge pile of beautifully wrapped gifts, mine looked positively shabby. The wrapping paper was clearly recycled from a previous year as was the very sad and droopy looking bow.
So limp was the wrapping that it didnt even require ripping and merely fell off when I held it up to say wow, one for me thanks! (no one noticed my gleeful outburst)
Once the crinkled paper had fallen away my present was revealed. It was a book, that had clearly been hastily grabbed from my grandparents bookcase as Id read it on a previous visit.
And my disappointment deepened further when I glanced over to see my brother jumping with joy after unwrapping a brand new model Landrover kit it had the plastic wrap on everything.
Not my best year but my grandparents Christmas dinner and afternoon tea more than made up for the rather lacklustre present.
Clematis armandii is a great favourite of mine but, it has its drawbacks. First of all, it is not the hardiest member of its tribe, and being evergreen, once its foliage becomes frost damaged this becomes a permanent feature.