Last week, we asked our online readers to share some of their holiday ‘disaster’ stories — because who doesn’t enjoy a good chuckle at someone else’s misfortune?
We heard from people who managed to pollute their entire apartment block with the stench of burned goose fat and from others who, rather than serve raw turkey, were forced to feed their dinner guests dessert first.
Since turnabout is fair play, perhaps it’s time I come clean about my own not-so-shining holiday moment.
It happened about 15 years ago when I was invited to a co-worker’s pre-Christmas party — a celebration at which it could be said I left my mark.
My visit got off to a bit of rocky start as I walked in and immediately realized that I’d entirely missed the part of the invitation that specified each person was to bring a gift beginning with the letter ‘C’ for a gift exchange game.
I had arrived empty handed except for a container of — and this is where fortune had smiled on me — chocolate chip cookies, which were immediately re-purposed for the game.
But my minor victory was to be short-lived.
Later that evening, a few glasses of holiday cheer, combined with the excitement of whatever game was going on at the time, got the better of me as a badly aimed swing of the arm sent my glass of wine — a full-bodied red — plummeting off a table onto my hostess’ pristine white carpet.
Internally, I was quietly dying a thousand deaths, while outwardly I was apologizing — profusely and repeatedly — while dabbing ineffectively at the growing pool of cab-sauv as it seeped deeper into each snowy fibre.
Another guest — having just seen a Martha Stewart segment on how to deal with this exact predicament — announced she knew how to fix it, and immediately poured her own glass of white wine on top of the stain, explaining that it would somehow reverse the effect of the red and make it magically disappear.
We stared in horror as the now marginally less dark red stain, reinforced with more liquid, spread further and further outward. It was then that another equally helpful — and it must be noted, equally inebriated — guest stepped in with her own sure-fire solution.
Pouring sugar on the stain was the answer, she explained. The granules would suck the wine out of the carpet and it would soon be as good as new.
It should be noted, all these years later, that I still admire how calm my hosts remained as they looked down at the centre of their living room carpet with its giant red stain — now sticky and glommed-together with the remnants of their sugar bowl.
There was little to be done at this point but move the party to another room and try not to pester our host, who in the absence of any more drunkenly helpful suggestions, had pulled out actual cleaning supplies and was working diligently at the stain.
In the end, I’m told it was a high-end carpet cleaner, purchased at half price on Boxing Day, that finally got the last of the wine and sugar residue out of the rug — but not before they spent their Christmas with an enormous pink stain in the middle of their living room.
I’m assured their investment in the shampooer has paid off over the years, with the arrival of a son and a dog. To this day, however, I can’t entirely relax in a room if the carpet is a lighter shade than the liquid in my glass.
And while that red wine stain may be long gone, I fear my shame over the incident will never quite disappear.