HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Christmas Dinner Nightmares!!

Ok, this should be good.

What have you been served at the Christmas/Hanukkah/festive table that made you cringe or just shake your head?? Time warp items? Ambitious failed attempts? Turducken fiascos? Give it to me!! Oh yeah!!

I was served mashed potatoes with no trace of butter, salt or dairy anything, bashed boiled turnips and pale, starchy, brussels sprouts. The turkey was very moist though. Good gravy too. Thank God my mom isn't computer literate, bless her "boil it till its mush" little heart.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The wife's family tradition - vaguely Hungarian passed through generations of worsening cooks:

    Ham with "let's kill the diabetics" sugary "gravy"

    Sauerkraut and (tinned button) mushroom glop moistened with some kind of canned soup

    "Babaika balls" (fried fingernail-sized dumplings tossed with cottage cheese)

    "Gotta make our Christmas rolls": leaden dough filled with canned fruit filling (not even the pie style, but the thickened-until-it's-a-starchy-paste style)

    --Wolfed down and insistently shared with gusto by the blood relatives, picked at by us in-laws until we can adjourn to the local fast-mart for a nuked hotdog.

    ---Just kill me now, please.

    1 Reply
    1. My FIL over cooked a wild turkey one year.
      As I understand it, wild turkey is like regular turkey, only drier. So over cooking it to the point of being dust was just disgusting.


      1. This was years ago, but unforgettable...

        We walk into Grandma and Grandpa's house. It smells delicious. Someone says "The turkey smells great!" and Grandma said "Oh, we aren't having turkey this year. We are having chicken."

        Okay, a nice roast chicken. Fine.

        Nope. Boiled. A platter was presented with a bony skeleton surrounded by shards of wet meat and that pot scum clinging to it all. Even Grandpa couldn't hide his dismay.

        The accompaniment was some thick homemade noodles the texture of play-doh, served simply. By simply, I mean absolutely plain. They were un-choke-downable.

        I remember being thankful for my glass of milk and my dinner roll, because that's what I had for that festive holiday meal.

        1. Steak and Kidney pie once. OMG. I JUST had a client order this from me. What did I do? I ordered one from an English tea house who makes them, cut it into quarters and kept it frozen. Lamb kidney no less. Sorry, don't even wanna learn how to make it.

          1. Yesterday, at noon at SIL's house, a lovely meal of French Toast, sugar butter on Texas Toast from Sam's club. Yuck.....Worse yet was her 20 yr old sons still in their pajamas.....at noon.

            11 Replies
            1. re: LikestoEatout

              LOL, I smell a sitcom! I'm sorry you had to put up with that, but I think we have a winner! Ding!Ding!Ding!

              1. re: LikestoEatout

                Hey nothing wrong with pajamas at noon! :-)

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  That one was puzzling to me, too. Holidays are MADE for jammies.

                  1. re: Snackish

                    Went to son's in-laws (lovely people), and she made a lovely beef tenderloin, yum.
                    boxed, scalloped potatoes
                    green bean casserole
                    jarred gravy, blech
                    stove top dressing

                    Wowser......enough sodium to kill an elephant.

                    1. re: mcel215

                      If I could ban one food item from the earth, I think boxed potatoes would be my choice.

                      1. re: Snackish

                        No - the jarred gravy. How can anyone consider it edible? I mean, how hard is it to make gravy? It practically makes itself.

                        1. re: cayjohan

                          This may get me kicked out of the chowhound club, but I have never actually tasted gravy.

                          1. re: Snackish

                            Oh, gravy is my favorite soup! I just hope that when you do finally have The Gravy Experience, it'll be with good stuff, not moistened flour.

                        2. re: Snackish

                          I am SO with you there! I've made homemade scalloped potatoes before which is why I am absolutely puzzled why my hubby keeps buying the boxed kind!!! I CANNOT stand that stuff. What's even more confusing is that any type of gravy made in our house MUST be made by him. No canned crap!

                        3. re: mcel215

                          MIL's last ex-husband would prepare a hormel ham and she would make boxed scalloped potatoes. He would serve sweet german wine to go with it. I wished she would have divorced him prior to that meal. I fantacize that her next husband will be a brilliant cook.

                        4. re: Snackish

                          Yeah, my husband and I wore jammies all day Christmas day! With Santas on them too! :-)

                    2. Green beans cooked in the "Southern style", which means boiled for about two hours until they've lost all color, texture and flavor.

                      Other than that, everything was good.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: QueenB

                        LOL Queen B, being from SC, I never knew growing up that Green Beans were not "Olive Beans." My grandmother used to proudly call green beans done when they "clinged to the vessel."

                        I still have her "vessel" which is now over 90 years old.

                        1. re: Moonpie

                          hey now, a lot of cuisines in addit to southern, cook green beans til they are limp - turkish and italian being two. Were your grandmothers beans seasoned up at least?

                      2. 363 days a year my mother could cook a mean roast. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, however, she seemed to fancy herself some sort of enforcer, wherein she would make certain, through the magic of oven heat, that the turkey and ham were really dead. Good. And. Dead. The pop-up thingie in the turkey? A Communist plot - ignore it and cook for 5 hours longer. Ham? Better as ham jerky, in her opinion. No wonder my Dad got her an electric knife. Shoulda been a chainsaw, if truth be told. And if anyone *suggested* less cooking, the resultant glare was enough to blister skin at twenty paces.

                        I HAD to take on the holiday dinners just to save my family's teeth from the by-golly-that's-um-chewy meat.

                        1. When I first moved to the US a few of years ago I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house. Seeing as it was my first ever Thanksgiving, they went all out and made absolutely sure that they included EVERY remotely traditional dish. Bless their hospitable hearts, almost all of the food was fabulous, but I still shudder at the memory of one of the dishes. It was cottage cheese mixed with green jello, walnuts and raisins and set in a mold the shape of a fish (??!!) with those waxy glace cherries for the eyes. Ungracious as this may sound, it had the appearance, taste, smell and texture of vomit. To this day I just cannot understand how this was one of the most popular dishes at the party.

                          1. About 3 years ago DH's SIL invited the whole family to Christmas dinner. She's a vegetarian as is her daughter, her son is vegan. All the rest of the family is omnivore. We discovered that the main dish was tofu stroganoff. Words cannot describe the heroic efforts we made to hide our dismay and get through the hideous meal. After dinner and some strained conversation we made our escape.

                            The following year she invited everyone for New Year's Day lunch. Which was vegetable soup. More strained conversation and another quick getaway. After that we made sure we had plans for the entire holiday season starting from Thanksgiving through Martin Luther King Day.

                            1. MIL made a precooked turkey roast and warmed it at least 3 hours until it was the texture of jerky. There was a sauce with a raspberry jam base that at least looked festive. The stuffing was so over cooked it made me wonder if it should have been served as salad crutons instead.

                              The instant mashed potatoes were lumpy - - sadly they weren't mixed with enough liquid and the lumps were unmixed, dehydrated flakes.

                              I was concerned there weren't enough veggies (12 asparagus spears and 2 dozen soggy green beans for 18 people) The solid peanut butter with red pepper dollops of 'sauce' on top of the veggies were rejected by most and there were plenty left over.

                              1 Reply
                              1. My mother had steamed asparagus as a side this year. She checked them and said they should be ready in about 30 minutes. I went behind her and accidently unplugged her steamer.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Moonpie

                                  LOL!!! Kinda like those southern-style green beans, huh? :-)

                                2. Every year. Tough, greasy goose at my MILs, who is otherwise an excellent cook. I have never had goose that wasn't tough - is that the nature of the beast, or is it possible to cook a goose so that it's tender? Or heck, maybe I just don't like goose?

                                  1. My mothers recipe for "sauteed" mushrooms:
                                    1. Wash mushrooms in lots of runnung water.
                                    2. Soak same mushrooms in water for 1 hour or more.
                                    3. Place mushrooms in saucepan and fill with water to cover
                                    mushrooms halfway.
                                    4. Add an ice-cream scoop of margarine.
                                    5. Cover.
                                    6. Bring to boil and boil for 45 minutes or until dark brown
                                    and slimy.
                                    7. Drain.
                                    8. Add another ice-cream scoop of margarine.
                                    9. Serve and enjoy........

                                    No wonder I started cooking for myself at a very young age!

                                    1. Mashed potatoes that tasted like...I'm not kidding...an ashtray. So I guess by comparison the rest of the cold, dry food was a step-up. It was a few years ago so can't remember all the food, but I can't get the potatoes or my hubby's relative's wife's cold family out of my mind. We ran from there to a bar and immediately ordered tequila shots.