The worst Christmas ever

Christmas can be traumatic if it brings memories of an unfortunate event such as a death or a disaster.

Here are recollections of natural and man made disasters that some families live with every Christmas.

1896 – The Christmas race war on Christmas Eve

White citizens of Mayfield, Kentucky made the mistake of lynching one too many black men. Completely fed up, the black community got together and launched what was nearly the largest race war the state had ever seen. Black and white citizens alike armed themselves, with the whites barricading themselves into their homes while the black citizens marched on the town. Between December 23rd and 24th, the streets became a localized war zone. Hundreds of bullets were fired. Windows were smashed, houses were shot to pieces, and several people were gunned down.

It was only a timely intervention by people on both sides willing to negotiate that stopped the fight from ballooning into a mass-tragedy, but still plenty died that day. As befitting a significantly more callous age, the New York Times reported the whole thing with undisguised glee.

1913 – The Italian hall disaster

In 1913, striking mine workers and their families were attending a Christmas party when someone – likely a stooge employed by the callous pit-owner screamed “fire!” The effect was instantaneous. The hundreds of people assembled all began a stampede for the door, a tiny opening located at the foot of a steep flight of stairs. All in all, 73 people were trampled to death, 59 of them children. Many many more were badly injured. It was a tragedy on an epic scale, one that sent shockwaves through the local community.

To add insult to severe injury, the stooge who sparked the panic was never caught. To this day no one is quite sure who he was, or even what his motives were. Whatever reason he had for being there, his actions that day destroyed Christmas for 200+ families.

1953 – The Tangiwai train disaster on Christmas Eve

The Tangiwai disaster was New Zealand’s worst-ever train crash, a 1953 rail accident that constituted a most horrific Christmas gift for hundreds of families. At about 10:30 on Christmas Eve, an express passenger train carrying some 285 people passed onto a bridge above the Whangaehu River. Unbeknownst to anyone onboard, a flash flood had washed away the bridge’s supports only a few minutes prior. As the train rolled out across the rushing water, the bridge simply gave way, plunging all five second-class carriages, and one first-class carriage, into the river.

In all, 151 people were killed. twenty of these people were simply swept away, their bodies never to be recovered. Only minutes from home and less than two hours from Christmas, their lives were unexpectedly destroyed.

1974 – Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day

When Cyclone Tracy made landfall in the early hours of Christmas Day 1974, no one suspected the full extent of damage it would wreak. The city of Darwin, Australia had survived several cyclones already in recent years, with the result being that almost nobody bothered to evacuate or even prepare their homes.

The consequences of this almost insane level of laziness would be devastating. In under half a day, Darwin went from being a bustling post-war reconstructed city of around 47,000 people, to teetering on the brink of extinction. 80 percent of all homes were destroyed, 70 percent of all buildings collapsed, and 41,000 people were left homeless and stranded in a storm-ravaged wasteland.

Incredibly, only 71 people were actually killed, but the psychological devastation was unbelievable. Darwin was wiped out more thoroughly than it had been during the Japanese air raids of WWII. In the course of a single Christmas, an entire city had all but vanished.

Read more »

Best Christmas card message

Photo credit Voices from Russia

Photo credit

When you’re all out of inspiration (and money) give this card:

Photo credit

Here’s a card to inspire your religious relative:

Jesus birthday Christmas card

Here’s a card for the dad who taught you frugality:

Families around the world personalise their Christmas cards with a photo and a personal message. Here is a selection from families with their own special message.

Read more »

Worst Christmas gift

Someone bought a friend a real live goat for Christmas – but the goat was actually given to an African village so all she actually got was a little card telling her about it. To say that she was underwhelmed is an understatement.

Can you do better than the following recipients of the most embarrassing or unsuitable gifts? Tell us about your experience.

Image credit

Image credit

Image credit

Image credit


Wine cooler scarf

Kihappy Beard Ornaments 12pc Colorful Christmas Hair Ball Baubles for Santa Clip

No hands umbrella

Luggable Loo

For the person who hogs the arm rest

Worst book selection, ever

Best Christmas song: Grandma got run over by a reindeer

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
She’d been drinking too much eggnog
And we begged her not to go
But she forgot her medication
And she staggered out the door into the snow
When we found her Christmas morning
At the scene of the attack
She had hoof-prints on her forehead
And incriminating Claus marks on her back
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Now we’re all so proud of grandpa
He’s been taking this so well
See him in there watching football
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel
It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts
Or send them back (send them back)
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig
And the blue and silver candles
That would just have matched the hair on grandma’s wig
I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
Better watch out for yourselves
They should never give a license
To a man who drives a sleigh
And plays with elves
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Singin’ grandpa
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Merry Christmas!
(by Elmo and Patsy)

Best Christmas gift

Oprah shared stories about gifts that especially touched the recipient because the giver had insight or sensitivity to the needs of the recipient.

How about having a star named after you? Ashley Sepanski recounts her story. Quote.

After my first year with my boyfriend, I expected a decent birthday gift—maybe a nice dinner or a cute jacket from my favorite store. So when he handed me what felt like a wrapped piece of paper, my heart sank.

With fake enthusiasm cued up, I unwrapped a two-pocket folder. Inside were official documents for a star he’d purchased for me—and named Martine.

That was the name given to my mother in a Quebec orphanage before she was adopted in the U.S. and renamed Judy. It’s also my middle name. My mother died when I was 16, and I’d spent a few embarrassing nights tearfully telling my boyfriend stories about her.

Even though a piece of paper can’t bring her back, the night sky has felt different ever since—like she’s up there sparkling in all her eternal glory.” End of quote.

Image credit Sky & Telescope

Or something as simple as a Christmas ornament that represents the happiness of a family Christmas can become very special as Jennifer Chen recounts.  Quote.

Read more »

Best and worst Christmas dinners

The Mirror carried out a poll and found that six in ten readers had messed up the all-important Christmas dinner in some way or other.  Lumpy gravy, under-cooked or overcooked vegetables, we’ve probably all been there and done that.  Quote.

Andre Dupin, head chef at recipe kit company HelloFresh UK, said: “This research shows that even the most confident chefs can find preparing Christmas dinner a challenge, particularly when cooking for a large number of people.

“Preparing the festive feast involves lots of different elements, and you need to be fairly confident in the kitchen to be able to bring each of these elements together at the same time.

“Almost half of those polled admitted coordinating cooking the turkey, sides and sauces was the hardest thing about preparing Christmas dinner.

”Making the meal just right is extra important for home cooks when it comes to the big day.”

The study also found leaving the giblets inside the turkey, creating gravy which is too thin and under boiling the sprouts also feature on the list.

While other cooking mishaps include burning the potatoes while waiting for the turkey to cook, putting too much salt in the vegetables and forgetting to turn the oven on.

The study found the average person will cater for around five people at Christmas time, and four in 10 admit they’re worse at cooking if there are additional people watching them.

The hardest person to cook for is the mother-in-law (14 per cent), followed by a partner or spouse (11 per cent).” End of quote.

Understandably, this company is in the business of providing the Christmas dinner along with step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal.

Read more »

Worst methane contributors this Christmas

The Green Party would have us believe that farming is evil because of the unacceptable methane by-product.

Image credit Inverse

But reindeer trump planes in the global warming debate because Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem and Rudolph produce only 70-120 kg of methane each per year compared to aircraft which are estimated to produce 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide each, on average, per air mile.

Go Santa!

The worst methane producers travelling around the world at Christmas are planes.

Image credit

Should you be thinking about making a difference to methane emissions, first give a thought to China and India who are the worst emitters and growing. Forbes reported this year. Quote.

China’s emissions passed those of the U.S. in 2005, and by 2012 had surpassed the combined contribution of both the U.S. and the EU. Should recent trends continue, China will be responsible for the most atmospheric carbon dioxide in less than 20 years.

China has lots of regional company, t00. The Asia Pacific region is home to both China and India — the world’s two most populous countries and two of the largest carbon dioxide emitters. It is also home to other fast-growing and/or populous countries, like Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Japan. Over the past decade, this region’s carbon dioxide emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 3.1%, which was nearly triple the global average. As a result, Asia Pacific is now responsible for nearly 50% of global carbon dioxide emissions.” End of quote.

There is plenty of advice on reducing our individual carbon footprint but the only real benefit of this is self-satisfaction, because that plane is flying whether you are on it or not, and Asia is producing far more than you could counter by purchasing a few token carbon credits.

Give Santa a wave as he sails by this Christmas.

Did anyone notice farming deaths almost doubled this year?

The agriculture sector is failing in its health and safety responsibilities.

The Otago Daily Times reported on a recent farm death in Waitaki. Quote. 

The death of a 21-year-old man who became stuck in a hay baler on a farm at Five Forks yesterday was the fifth on a rural property in the last six months. End of quote.

We are not doing well nationally either. Quote. 

A Worksafe spokeswoman said she could confirm the man died after becoming stuck in the hay baler and an investigation has started.

It was the 17th farm fatality in New Zealand this year and [the] fifth this month. End of quote.

Let’s look at the previous year. In January Stuff reported. Quote. 

Agriculture is New Zealand’s most dangerous industry to work in, according to WorkSafe New Zealand. 

As of November 2017, nine people lost their lives working in the industry last year – with three of those people dying as a result of quad bike accidents. 

With a total of 124 deaths in the past six years, the sector is New Zealand’s deadliest. 

WorkSafe New Zealand chief executive Nicole Rosie said she was hopeful workplace fatalities would decrease again in 2018. 

“We’re ahead of the harm-reduction target set by the previous government in two of the three measures, and I’m cautiously optimistic that New Zealand’s overall health and safety performance is improving,” she said. End of quote.

Read more »

The year of the Mickey Mouse politicians

In a newspaper Barry Soper chose Ian Lees-Galloway as ‘Politician of the Year’ describing him as, quote:

…audacious in the defence of himself over the infernal Karel Sroubek affair. The unravelling of his decision was pure theatre.

The articulate and it would seem unflappable Lees-Galloway was adamant he’d made the right decision, make no mistake about it. He’d do the same thing again, he insisted.” End of quote.

Lees-Galloway presented as incompetent and didn’t do his leader any favours when she defended him before the full story of his incompetency unfolded.

Soper chose Simon Bridges as a close second in the inadequacy stakes after Bridges’ woeful pursuit of the villain who leaked his expenses. Retribution from Jami-Lee Ross, who released his conversations with Bridges and Bennett, made Bridges appear unfeeling and weak.

Both Lees-Galloway’s and Bridges’ travesties unravelled like soapie dramas on daytime television with the public glued to their screens for the next horrible instalment.

Read more »

Merry Christmas NZ steel manufacturing

Is this our first fallout from Jacinda’s big fat anti-Trump mouth?

Newstalk reports. Quote.

Auckland-based iron casting company Precision Foundry has been placed in receivership affecting up to 200 staff.” End of quote.

A newspaper also reported that workers at the Auckland foundry, which employs 85 people, were sent home for Christmas with three weeks pay and no job to come back to.

Newstalk reported. Quote.

Precision Foundry, formerly Masport Foundries, was taken over in October 2014 by private equity firm Challenge Partners.” 

Receivers Grant Graham and Pravin Bhana of KordaMentha were appointed this morning, Challenge Partners director Paul Ayers confirmed in a text message to the Herald.

The company is the country’s leading manufacturer of cast ductile and alloy iron, from its Mt Wellington plant.

The company, which now operates under the MFL name, pours several thousand tonnes annually of high-quality iron castings, most of which are then machined and/or coated prior to final dispatch. These are exported globally and MFL products can be found in many areas of Australasian equipment manufacture.” End of quote.

The company annually pours several thousand tonnes of high-quality iron castings. Photo/Getty Images.

Read more »