Illustrations by Carson Ellis

Got the holiday blues? Feel like you're the unluckiest chump to ever light a yule log? Well cheer up, Grumpy Gus! The following Mercury readers are WAY unluckier than you, as their "Most Horrible X-Mas" essays will soon prove.

What follows are true tales of holiday woe, and while everyone published here will receive a complimentary Mercury "Oh, Cheer Up, for Chrissakes!" Gift Bag™, only one person can win the grand prize of $100 and a pack of four 60-watt light bulbs. And that person is... JOHN, and his horrifying story appropriately titled "Sizzle Balls." Congratulations John, and if it'll make the rest of you feel any better, remember this: Christmas comes only once a year.

Essay Winner!

Two years ago I went home for the holidays to visit my friends and family. As per usual, I ventured out one night to climb on top of the local mega-mart in order to pee in the commercial fans, which causes my urine to rain onto the unknowing trailer park below. The only way to climb on top of said mega-mart, was by way of several garbage cans from the adjoining Chinese restaurant. I had done it many times before, so it was entirely second nature. However, this time I fell into one of the garbage cans, and guess what was inside? Acid! And not the good kind. The kind Chinese restaurants use to clean fryer vents!

I was rushed to the hospital, only to learn I had received third-degree chemical burns on my foot, knee, and scrotum. My balls swelled to the size of grapefruit! It was horrible. Christmas was starting to suck a big fat one.

The doctor, trying to console me, told me it was good that this had happened at the right time of year. Not understanding, I asked him to explain. He started to sing, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire." What an asshole! My balls were turning from black to green and this clit-fart is making fun of the situation. I told him that when I have children (who will have super powers because of my acid-inflamed vas deferens), I will make sure they hunt him down and draw Christmas trees on his genitals with soldering irons.

As it turns out, I spent Christmas with a shoebox covering my groin, popping Vicodin like Tic-Tacs, and thinking about that part in Fight Club where the hot guy pours chemicals on the less-hot-but-still-hot-guy's hand and he cries like a little baby. Sorry Chuck, but that guy was a pussy! I dipped my balls in that shit, and I didn't cry like that fucking pussy!

Sorry to get so upset around Christmas, but these are my balls, for Christ's sake. I'm fine now. In fact, aside from the psychological anguish from being renamed "Sizzle Balls," all I have is a scar on my nut-sac that kind of looks like the "W" in the Wu-tang symbol. I'm not sure if I can have children, but if I win, I promise to put the $100 towards a trip to the embryologist.

The Muktuk Vendetta

By Matt Harwood

Mr. Choo was an old man who lived across the frozen street from me, with his wife, in a north side igloo, on the outskirts of Fairbanks Alaska's barren facade of a downtown. I remember how the echo of sirens and strobes blended with the early morning snowfall to create a prismatically quaint sereneness outside my frosted bedroom window.

It still seems like I awoke to a dream. I'm not even sure if I had slept at all that night; after all, it was Christmas morning 1977, the day they found old man Choos' wife hacked to bits via the blade of an old rusty ulu. Her blood-covered husband ignored inquiries from appointed officials and curious onlookers as he sat there; toothless, chewing indifferently on what was at first believed to be a gnarled piece of muktuk.

Seeing the commotion, my brother and I decided to sneak under an obscure crawl space that would allow us an unhindered view of the action. A short while passed before the paramedics unwittingly discovered that both of Mrs. Choos' ears had been, in fact, chewed off. It was upon this discovery that Mr. Choo uttered his first words, something along the lines of, "She never listen to me."

The snow continued to pile up outside. While inside, the plot thickened, the irony got deeper, and the Christmas muktukÉ just a tad bit chooier.

As the old Eskimo spoke, unbound by conviction or resistance, two foreign objects dribbled out from his mouth; one with the viscosity only age can bring, dropping to his urine-stained lap. The other piercing into his chapped, swollen and slightly bleeding lower lip. Closer scrutiny was unnecessary; for the ivory, bead, and quill earrings were easily recognized as the handmade craftiness of the now deceased, Mrs. Choo. I remember catching a fleeting glimpse of earlobe along the horizon of his gum line right before Mr. Choo swallowed, with a wink of Christmas cheer, aimed seemingly in the direction of me and my brother.

I remember asking Santa for a Six Million Dollar Man action figure for Christmas that year. And as I tore through gratuitous gifts in search of Steve Austin, I remember thinking, "What if Mrs. Choo had a bionic earÉ maybe she'd still be alive!"

Well, I didn't get the Six Million Dollar Man; and boy did that Christmas suck.

She Had Plans of Her Own

by Moe S.

I've always been the first one to admit that Santa was real, because around December, I would turn into the jolly old elf himself. Things hadn't been going too well for my girlfriend of five years and we found ourselves living under a bridge. But being homeless wasn't enough to ruin X-mas for me. We had each other and had fixed up the hovel to where it was bearable. Our tent under the bridge was cozy and we were working together to get ourselves out of there. Or at least that's what I thought.

While I was out selling my plasma and doing everything I could to better our chances of getting housing as soon as possible, she was working on her own plan. Blissfully unaware, I went on about the business of X-mas; getting her presents and securing the surprise house sitting gig that would have afforded us a beautiful and private place to celebrate the day, and a few more after that. I was glad to get her out from under the bridge for Christmas.

About two days before, she had made arrangements to get something for another one of our friends. This was okay, because she said she would get some money and some of the speed for doing it. It sounded like this was working out great. I still hadn't told her about the house sitting, so I couldn't wait to see the look on her face when I took her, not to the hovel, but to a West Hills city view hot tubbed surprise. Unfortunately, she chose that time to leave me.

The hell that followed managed to destroy the joy of X-mas in me forever. I sat alone in the cold and dark under that bridge without anyone who gave a damn about whether I was alive or dead. There will never be a joyful Christmas for me as long as I have a memory of being humiliated and deserted by the only one I loved at this wonderful time of year.

Fuck you Santa, fuck you girlfriend, fuck all this Christmas shit. Scrooge was a pussy because he changed his mind. He had been right all along. May you have the worst day that you can.

I Am Thor

by Alexandra Rogers

After years of living on my own and foregoing the standard holiday fare (read: alone in an apartment on Christmas day with no presents and getting sloshed on day old egg nog) imagine my secret joy of landing a boyfriend from a very traditional family who invited me to spend Christmas day with him, tree, turkey and all.

We had only been dating a couple of weeks, so maybe it was a little soon. But you have to see this guy, Paul. For one, he was the first guy I had seen who wasn't an "up and coming band manager." He was in banking. He wore tiny wire frame glasses, ironed white shirts and great pants. He was pretty--not in an effeminate way, but pretty in the "I will never fuck up your life" way that sometimes seems a little boring.

At this point in my life, I was all about boring.

On Christmas day, Paul picked me up in his Saab, and we drove out of the city for 40 miles to a serene little Tudor in the woods. I'd offered to follow him there, but Paul would have none of it, reasoning this day was about me being pampered and waited on. Suh-weet!

His dad looked like an older version of Paul, and, well, so did his mom. So did his older brother. So, in fact, did his younger brother. So in fact did his other older brother, and his older sister. Jesus, I thought, they clone 'em like rabbits out in the backwoods.

I was feeling like the Christmas morning princessÉ until I discovered Paul's Achilles' heel. You see, Paul's a transformative drunk. One of those types whose Id is held in check by a tenuous thread of sobriety. Paul is a loud, obnoxious, break-out-into-a-full-sweat, hands-all-over you, sloppy drunk.

After his fourth Courvoisier, Paul let out a loud belch. Everyone at the table, his mom included, roared in approval. Then Paul stood up at the dinner table and looked at me, and said in a loud voiceÉ


The brothers laughed in hysterics. "Oh shit," I thought.

"He's doing Thor! Har, har!" shouted the brothers. "Get your hammer, Thor!"

His sister leaned over and whispered to me in that drunken whisper which is actually louder than actual speaking.

"He's sho cute when he dreshes up as Thor. I LOVE it!"

Paul's younger brother brought Paul a big Styrofoam hammer and horned Viking helmet.

No, no, noÉ

Paul glared at me. In fact, I don't think he had ever taken his inebriated stare off of me.


"I believe Thor was the son of Odin," I tried to correct.

'Thor' apparently didn't like this response. 'Thor' hit me on the head with his Styrofoam hammer. The family broke out into cackles.

"See what happens when you anger Thor!"

This was actually the 'nice' part of the fiasco. Because as soon as I saw my sweet Paul in his 'Thor' get-up, humiliating me in front of his family, I knew it was over. I started crying, and spent the next hour waiting for a taxi outside, while each member of Paul's family tried to console me back in, apologizing for Paul's rambunctiousness. Paul, of course, never came out.

As the taxi drove me back home, darkness had fallen, and I could see the huge tree in all its lit glory. It was, without a doubt, the Christmas that should never have been.