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Guest Post—Sarah M. Anderson With Nook Giveaway!!!

January 4, 2013

Worst. Christmas. Gift. Ever.
By Sarah M. Anderson

The Christmas season has come and gone again, leaving several garbage bags full of wrapping paper and those irritating zip-ties that all children’s toys must now be belted into cardboard with.

I got pretty lucky this year—my husband went a little nuts with the online shopping, but I’m not complaining!

But not all of us have emerged unscathed.

Several years back, I had a relative (who shall remain nameless) who was well-known not only for the cheapness of her gifts (she would buy things at 90% off and then carefully peel off the layers of clearance stickers and leave the original price sticker intact to make you think she’d really spent full price on the gift), but for the overall awfulness of them.

Sometimes this was just odd—one year, I got a bowl of genuine imitation wooden fruit. Yes. She gave me a bowl of plastic fruit that was supposed to look like wood. Even the bowl was this plastic wood. It was awful. And that was my big gift that year.

But one year, she outdid herself in the awful-gift department. That year, I received the mother of all Terrible Christmas gifts.

On the surface, it didn’t sound bad. A two-foot tall Christmas Tree candle. That’s not terrible, right?

Except for a few key things. One, the tree had a face—a face possessed by pure evil. The smile was small and mean, but the eyes were narrowed with all the malicious energy a wax Christmas tree could muster—which turned out to be quite a lot. Maybe this had been a happy little wax tree at some point and undue exposure to heat had turned it into an agent of evil. We’ll never know.

But what really sealed the deal was the smell. You might think that a Christmas Tree candle would be scented, perhaps with fragrant pine or boughs of holly. And if we were talking about a normal Christmas Tree candle, you would be right.

But not this thing. Who knows, perhaps when the candle had been new (which was probably during the Regan era), it had smelled delightfully of pine-freshness. But at this point, it had probably spent decades outgassing. By the time I unwrapped it on Christmas morning, the odor had become one of concentrated farts. And I don’t even like that word, but there is no other way to describe it. The tree reeked.

This was the last Christmas I spent relatively single. I had just started dating my now-husband, so he had not been initiated into the ways my family suffered through gifts. When I talked to him that night, I told him about the Christmas Tree Candle from Hell.

“It can’t be that bad,” he said.

I had already decided that the demon spawn was not going with me when I went back home, but the tone of his voice left me with no choice. He had to know what he was getting into by being with someone who was related to someone who gave gifts that criminal.

So I triple wrapped the Evil Tree in grocery bags and stowed it as far away from my luggage as I could for the drive back to my place—six hours away. After the first two hours, the car began to smell. By the time I hit city limits, I had the windows rolled down. Sure, I was cold, but at least I could breath without tasting pure evil.

We met at my apartment. “Let me see this thing,” he said. Words to regret, I tell you, because I popped that trunk and motioned to the segregated bag of doom.

He began unwrapping. At first, he was all smiles, poking fun at me and my irrational fear of wax products. But as each bag came off and the smell got stronger—and I took more and more steps away from it—he grew quiet and, dare I say, more fearful.

Finally, the evil, evil eyes were freed of the plastic. The sheer force of that spiteful tree’s glare caused him to retreat a step or two. “That thing,” he muttered, holding it like it was radioactive, “is hideous.”

“I told you,” was all I could say.

Luckily, I had parked near a dumpster. My brave, soon-to-be husband sucked up his courage and carried the Tree of Doom over to the dumpster. For reasons I will never truly understand, he didn’t actually throw it away. He just sat it on the ground next to the dumpster and retreated quickly.

That gift gone horribly wrong—the Christmas Tree Candle from Hell—sat outside that dumpster for months. The garbage people wouldn’t pick it up; the scavengers refused to touch it. Instead it sat there for the better part of a winter, spreading its misery to the world at large. Finally, it disappeared and I moved in with my soon-to-be-husband shortly thereafter. I’m afraid it still haunts that apartment complex.

So, tell me—what was the worst Christmas (or Hanukah) gift you ever received? I’m giving away a Nook Simple Touch and some books—click on the rafflecopter link below enter! The contest runs through Valentine’s Day, so there will be many more chances to enter!

Click this link to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Mystic Cowboy Blurb:

The White Sandy Reservation needs a doctor, and Madeline Mitchell needs to do a little good in the world. It seems like a perfect fit, until she meets the medicine man, Rebel Runs Fast. As far as Madeline can tell, Rebel’s sole mission is to convince her patients that modern medicine can’t help them. And the fact that he makes her heart race every time he looks at her only irritates her more.

Rebel swore off the white man’s world—and women—years ago. But he’s never met a woman like Dr. Mitchell. She doesn’t speak the language, understand the customs, or believe he’s anything more than a charlatan–but she stays, determined to help his people. He tries to convince himself that his tribe doesn’t need her, but when patients start getting sick with strange symptoms, he realizes that he needs her more than ever.

Mystic Cowboy is available for pre-order! Visit your favorite bookseller, the Samhain



About the Author:

Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.

When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son. You can learn more about Sarah at


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  1. Tina permalink

    That made me laugh so hard! I can just see the Tree of Evil sitting there by the dumpster sulking & plotting its revenge.

  2. It was plotting, Tina! Luckily, it didn’t have legs or arms, so I’m not sure how it would have taken over the world, but it plotted!

    Don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter link to enter to win the Nook! Thanks for commenting!!!

  3. Mary D. permalink

    I’m sure that taught him to never doubt you where cheap gifts are concerned!

  4. Hee-hee…the real gift she gave you was this hilarious story.
    I too, have been gifted on Christmas with a memorable candle….like a bad fruitcake (is that adjective even necessary?) the candle comes back to haunt the holidays year after year when it shows up at the annual White Elephant party my girlfriends and I have…this Christmas marked the 7th year of the CANDLE….I’ll tweet you a pic…but here’s a blog post I wrote several years ago about it:

  5. Oh my GOD, Melonie–Candle sex?? THAT IS TERRIBLE!! (And thanks for the card–I just got it yesterday!!)

  6. Christy permalink

    Wow! I laughed so hard it woke the boyfriend up. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything quite that bad. How on earth did you hold the “present face” with the gosh awful smell coming off it?

    • Well, as I mentioned, there was a lifetime of training in the proper reception of bad gifts from this gift giver, so I had had years of practice. But it was a true challenge!!

  7. Rita Wray permalink

    That was hilarious, I loved it. I don’t remember ever getting anything that terrible for Christmas. I have received stuff I didn’t like. One time I had a yard sale and put all the ugly stuff on a table to sell. Well one of the people who gave me a few items pulled up at my yard sale and I had to quickly hide the stuff before they saw it. lol

    • Oh, no! I think that’s part of the terribleness of such gifts–there’s just no way to really get rid of them. They haunt forever!

  8. Maria D. permalink

    Funny, funny story. I thought I had tasteless relatives – none of my bad gifts has ever been that bad. I’ve been really lucky – I have no horrid Christmas Gift stories – I used to end up with tons and tons of stuff from Bath and Body Works but none of it was ever in bad taste…lol….Thanks for the contest.

    • You’re welcome, Maria! I have well-meaning relatives who buy me body sprays from Bath and Body Works–but I don’t wear fragrance! Maybe they’re trying to tell me something? 😉

  9. A chainsaw from my husband. I didn’t mind, since I got him several nice dresses.That was the start of the “let me pick out my own stuff and you buy it” years. Not very romantic, but really, how many rifles and tool boxes does a leady need?

    • It takes a brave (or extremely foolish) man to buy a woman a weapon as deadly as a chainsaw! Glad you both survived the event!

  10. bn100 permalink

    Not getting any gift

  11. ROFL!!! Sarah, that was truly awful! But as Melonie said, that is a whopper of a story! 😀 Woot! No truly hideous gifts here–I know I’m blessed 😉

    • Thanks, Fedora! It really was a candle possessed by the devil. EVIL! I’m impressed with all the good-gift-giving people in your life!

  12. Really enjoyed the candle story, thankfully I have never received one! I did however receive an apron from my grandmother when I was about 7, not the flowery, cotton kind, the one I received was sheer and yellow, looked kind of like one Mrs Jettson would wear. (That probably is greek to anyone under social security age).

    • Hi Janice! I totally know who Mrs. Jettson was. And now will probably spend the rest of the evening singing the theme song. Jettsons, Meet the Jettsons…

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