The Stars' Worst Christmases

It may well be the season to be merry and to relive all those wonderfully warm memories of Christmases past, but not every 25th of December is packed with joy to the world.

We've all had those Christmases when things just don't go to plan - the turkey is burned, grandma gets drunk and Great Uncle Albert reveals you're adopted - but rest assured everyone has had their fair share of Yuletide suffering.

So, as you contemplate another festive disaster at your house, take a moment to consider everyone has had a Christmas ruined - even the stars.

Whether it's mean-spirited siblings poking fun at Santa or miserable moments alone with a turkey, Hollywood is awash with festive foul-ups - and for many these Christmas disasters have scarred the stars for life.

Robert Downey Jr will never dress up as Santa Claus again after terrifying all the children in his extended family one year by appearing drunk.

The actor, who has been battling a past drug addiction for the past two years, admits he was horrified when he saw the look on the children's faces.

"We had a bunch of friends over and I came down the stairs as Santa Claus and it was not a 'Ho ho ho' situation," he recalls. "People were really scared. The children were like, 'Why is Santa so on edge? Why is he drunk?' They told them, 'Santa's been in the chimney for three weeks!'"

Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh was forced to cancel Christmas dinner one year when her cat ate the defrosting turkey.

Leigh sat and sobbed as she watched her pet puss gobble chunks of the frozen bird.

She says, "The turkey was defrosting in the sink and my cat ate the raw turkey and that was pretty bad. It ruined Christmas dinner. I seem to remember the cat was fine."

It was Love Actually star Laura Linney's pet dog who ruined one Christmas for her and her mother.

The naughty pooch found the posh chocolates Laura had wrapped up for a family friend under the tree - and decided to start his Christmas early.

"My mother and I were living in a small apartment and we didn't have a lot of money and she had a friend that had been very good to us this year - an older woman who was very well to do and a little snobby. My mother had saved all this money to buy her some Godiva chocolates, which we wrapped and put under the tree.

"My dog sniffed them out, ate the entire box and then got sick all over the apartment for about four days. Those chocolates cost a fortune - they almost put us in the poor house. Then, to add insult to injury, the dog had the runs all over the house. It was terrible."

Movie hunk Benicio Del Toro can also remember a Christmas that wasn't so joyous - when Santa sent him a cynical note.

He recalls, "As a kid, I asked Santa Claus for some toys and he wrote me a letter, 'I lost the bag. I'll get back to you next year.'"

The first Christmas after his mother's death was particularly tough on Peter Fonda - he insisted on buying his late mum presents and putting them under the tree.

He admits his family thought he was crazy, "It was a very peculiar one. It was our first Christmas after our mother had died and somehow my mind suddenly wasn't right.

"I had gotten presents for my mother and put them on a chair and I told everybody, 'This is where we put mother's presents.' They were all looking at me like, 'Get a grip.' For me I was thinking something is terribly wrong. They of course thought that I was terribly wrong and I was obviously a bit disturbed.

"Nevertheless, I remember making everyone swear on the bible that I was now the head of the house. I was 10. That was a very bizarre moment because I think maybe my sister already knew what had happened but I hadn't, and I wouldn't until I was 15.

"It's terrible to spend a family Christmas after the death of a parent."

Christmas would always be a miserable time for Billy Bob Thornton if his father's favorite college football team lost.

"I come from Arkansas and my dad was a huge fan of the local college team," he remembers. "If the Arkansas Razorbacks were playing a Bowl game on Christmas Day and they lost my dad was pretty sour, and that could make it a bad Christmas."

Billy Bob also has a miserable time of finding the right stuff to eat at Christmas because he's allergic to wheat and dairy products, "That just about rules out everything."

Jack Nicholson's mean parents used to dump a lump of coal in the actor's stocking if he was a bad boy.

The movie star admits the festive lesson his parents tried to teach him crushed him as a kid.

"I may be one of the few people that you know who actually received coal in his stocking for being a bad boy at Christmas," he grimaces. "I don't know what getting that coal did to me. I know what it did to me then! It destroyed me. I think my parents knew they'd overplayed their hand."

And Jack's pal Cher was once so depressed when she was home alone on Christmas Day she refused to open her gifts.

She remembers, "All the ones when my kids were little were great but there was one year where I was so depressed I didn't open my presents. I opened them I think in July; I just didn't care. I was over it.

"I make sure I never feel like that now. Christmas is really for kids and I have so many little friends; I'm buying for like 150 to 200 kids that I know. That makes it work for me."

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