It's the least wonderful time of the year!
Holidays are a time of happiness, togetherness, and fun, right? Wrong! They are an awful time of the year that drains your money, time, and patience.
Whether it be because you are trying to make everything perfect for the family, or family just came to you to ruin your day, to braving the long, savage lines in stores and still not getting the perfect gift, to just never having the time to rest, the difficulty of keeping things in control as the chaos of the holidays approach makes you think they'd be more aptly named "Hellidays". Often, to add insult to injury, freak weather or other acts of "God"
will compound the hardship.
This could also be reminiscence, a frequent subversion of the supposedly joyful holiday atmosphere, when characters reflect on how crappy their holidays
are. While Christmas is, naturally, the most common venue for this trope, Thanksgiving
is also a frequent target in the US. This may be because the latter brings families together but is also completely secular, which is perfect for the mood to be ruined by some argument between people who don't share the same beliefs, someone coming out of the closet, etc.
It is this whenever a certain holiday causes, directly or indirectly, conflict. Can be Truth in Television
Related (often extreme) tropes are Twisted Christmas
, Soapland Christmas
(a subtrope specifying both Christmas and Soap Opera
), and Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday
, all for unusually sinister experiences. See also The Grinch
for characters who openly hate Christmas in particular, and Anti-Christmas Song
for an entire musical genre built around the Yuletide form of this.
For the other definition of "holiday", compare Busman's Holiday
or Horrible Camping Trip
- A memorable issue of The Flash had Wally West suffering a horrible Christmas that had him missing his own party due to being delayed capturing some criminals and then to top it all off discover he's being sued.
- There's a Target commercial wherein a cheerful hausfrau type is decorating cakes, and describing how much she looks forward to the Black Friday sale, and then she goes on to describe her other holiday preparations, culminating in declaring, "I haven't slept for THREE DAYS!" (cue insane laughter)
- The basic plot of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Then things get really ugly.
- Home for the Holidays has Holly Hunter going home to spend Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family. After getting fired from her job.
- There's a scene in Hogfather where the wizards at Unseen University start thinking back on all the things that bug them about Hogswatch, including disappointing presents, family feuds cropping up, and flaming rows over board games.
- The Dresden Files short story "Harry's Day Off" features more things going wrong in Harry's life than a regular novel does.
- Lori's husband Bill expresses this sentiment at the beginning of Aunt Dimity's Christmas. He points out that he's had to attend fifteen parties in ten days, as well as multiple crowded shopping trips and an expedition the woods for greenery and a tree—and Christmas is still two weeks away.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The main character hates Christmas so much he decides to ruin it for everyone else. He failed, and in that failure he finds the true meaning of the holiday.
- On one episode of Hey Arnold!, both Helga and Arnold complain on how their families ruin the Thanksgiving Day, and decide to leave their homes and go to Mr. Simmons' house expecting him to have a perfect celebration, it turned out his Thanksgiving Day was even worse.
- Averted in South Park, in which Christmas in Fire and Brimstone Hell is actually really enjoyable.
- Ironically subverted in the Phineas and Ferb Christmas Episode. Given Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Affably Evil nature and his history of sadistically tragicomic and consistently crappy childhood experiences, everyone expects him to hate Christmas. It turns out he honestly has no problem with it and was one of the few times in his childhood that "was always fine. It wasn't great but it wasn't terrible either."
- Turns out that he hates every other holiday, too. Every one, including Flag Day and Mardi Gras. Explained in song!
- Ironically, one of the most beloved Christmas Specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas, is mostly about how the main character is depressed during the holidays. "I know everyone doesn't like me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"
- In the first Family Guy Christmas special, Lois is constantly bombarded by one disaster after another. She takes them all in stride until, when trying to clean up after coming home, she freaks out after being told that they're out of paper towels (they actually weren't).
- The Nickelodeon Doug Christmas episode, "Doug's Christmas Story". Right near Christmas, Porkchop bites Beebe's leg (In order to get her away from thin ice when they were ice skating), injuring her. So Bill Bluff begins pressing charges against Porkchop for injuring his daughter, and he's taken to the pound, with a possible chance of being put to sleep. Interestingly, it's the darkest episode of the Nickelodeon series.
- The Fenton family has a long history of these, most as a result of Jack and Maddie's ongoing argument over the existence of Santa Claus. Highlights include Danny getting peed on by a dog as a baby and the Christmas turkey getting possessed. To top it all off, the special where we find this out involves a giant killer nutcracker, evil Christmas trees, and compulsive rhyming.
- In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee episode "Magic Takes a Holiday", it seems June might get a short vacation due to Edipan, a week-long holiday where all supernatural beings are supposed to take the week off. As fate would have it, however, she has to deal with a grouchy frost giant who doesn't observe Edipan (and he really doesn't like Labor Day much either).
- A Shrek Christmas special had him looking forward to a quiet holiday with his family, ruined when he has a meltdown over it becoming a big impromptu free-for-all party. Donkey later reassures him that this kind of tension is standard holiday fare, telling him "Like my momma always said, 'It ain't Christmas 'till somebody cries!'"
And God damn us, every one!