Coal for Christmas – When Tradition Crosses the Line of Festive Fun

Sad woman on Christmas.

In a classic tale of holiday surprises and family traditions, one social media user shared her unfortunate experience that left her questioning the festive spirit.

The original poster (OP) found herself at her fiance’s house for Christmas, departing from her usual celebrations with her own family.

Expecting warmth and joy, OP arrived armed with thoughtful gifts, only to be met with an unexpected and somewhat baffling tradition.

Thoughtful Gifts

OP had put genuine thought and effort into gifts for her fiancé and his family. She had thoughtfully selected an expensive and thought-out gift related to her fiancé’s hobbies.

Additionally, she prepared considerate presents for her fiancé’s parents, taking into account their previous conversations. As for other relatives whom OP didn’t know well, she decided to give small packs of chocolates.

OP’s intentions were to share the joy of the season and make a positive impression on her fiancé’s family.

However, the festive atmosphere quickly took a nosedive when the gift exchange began.

You Got Me What?!

Eagerly opening the presents addressed to her, OP was met with an unexpected sight – a piece of coal in each package.

The room erupted with laughter as the tradition unfolded, but the laughter soon faded from OP’s face, replaced by confusion and disappointment. All eighteen gifts were the same, leaving OP feeling hurt and let down.

Feeling the weight of the situation, OP couldn’t contain her emotions and lashed out at her fiancé, Dan. It was a natural reaction to such an unexpected turn of events.

In response, Dan calmly explained that this was an tradition in his family. Newcomers celebrating Christmas with them were bestowed with coal as a humorous ritual.

According to Dan, it was a way for distant relatives who didn’t know the newcomer well to participate in the gift-giving without the pressure of finding the perfect present. He assured OP that it was all in good fun and not meant to be hurtful.

A Not-So-Merry Christmas

Disheartened and feeling somewhat betrayed, OP expressed her disbelief at having missed her own family’s Christmas celebration for this unusual experience. Unable to bear the awkwardness any longer, OP left the gathering.

However, OP’s departure triggered a flurry of messages and calls from Dan and some of his family members, expressing their disappointment and embarrassment over the situation.

OP later turned to the online community to seek guidance about whether there was anything wrong with her conduct.

A Hurtful Tradition

Social media users responded fervently, offering their perspectives on the situation.

The comments from the online community were a mix of sympathy and condemnation.

User realstareyes, appalled by the family’s behavior, empathized with OP, stating,

“You skipped your family’s Christmas for this, and they shouldn’t have done this to you without a warning or your consent.

“Just because THEY enjoy this tradition doesn’t mean it can’t be hurtful to you, and they clearly ruined the occasion and then gave you a stupid explanation.

“Especially, your fiancé is inconsiderate in all of this, you deserve better! This was legit humiliation.”

Another user, Effective_Pen_4696, echoed the sentiment, describing the act as thoughtless and mean-spirited.

The user offered her support to OP and advised her to take time to think about the situation, while also suggesting blocking any negative voices.

This user particularly emphasized that OP had done nothing wrong, and the blame rested solely on her fiance’s family’s shoulders.

Jupiter235 took a more balanced approach, acknowledging that a single box with coal might have been seen as a fun gag, but eighteen identical gifts crossed into the realm of cruelty.

The user highlighted the importance of knowing where to draw the line when it comes to humor in holiday traditions.

CuriousTsukihime expressed sadness over seeing similar posts where partners weren’t informed about family traditions in advance.

The user urged OP not to accept hurtful behavior excused by the name of tradition.

The user also pointed out the need for open communication and consideration in relationships, especially considering they were engaged.

Reasonable_Funny_622 humorously pointed out that receiving a bar of chocolate wouldn’t have been too much to ask, especially considering the effort put into wrapping each gift.

“A bar of chocolate isn’t too much to ask. I mean they spend money and time on the wrapping paper.”

Meanwhile, Sad-Unit5046 firmly advised against spending future Christmases with Dan’s family, stating,

“That’s just mean, and there’s absolutely nothing fun about it.”

The Verdict

The incident shared by OP sparked a broader conversation about family traditions and how they can sometimes create unexpected challenges in relationships.

While traditions often hold sentimental value and strengthen family bonds, they can also inadvertently cause distress or discomfort to newcomers.

The discussion on social media showcased a mixed approach to addressing the issue.

Some users condemned the family’s actions, while others urged OP to reconsider her relationship with Dan.

The consensus seemed to be that communication and mutual respect were crucial in any relationship, particularly when navigating family traditions during the holidays. Dan could’ve given OP a heads-up to better prepare for the occasion.

In the end, finding a balance between festive fun and consideration for others’ sentiments is key to creating joyful and harmonious celebrations.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Do you think the OP from this social media post was wrong?

Featured Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia /

This article originally appeared on Ash & Pri.

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Pri Kingston

Ash & Pri are the Founders of and have spent the last decade building their way towards financial freedom and a lifetime of memories. Having successfully achieved their early retirement goal in under 10 years, they look forward to sharing their financial sense with like-minded people. Read more about Ash & Pri in the 'About Us' section.