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‘It was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen’

On this, the second-last shopping day before Christmas, we share some of the most terrible gifts that notable Canadians have given or received. Each of these people assure the Toronto Star they are now quite generous and gracious, but they had a few stories worth mentioning.

We all have stories of gifts gone wrong.

On this, the second-last shopping day before Christmas, we share some of the most terrible gifts that notable Canadians have given or received. Each of these people assure the Toronto Star they are now quite generous and gracious, but they had a few stories worth mentioning.

Debra DiGiovanni, comedian

My parents were just shafted by terrible presents for years. The worst part is we were all in our teens and aware of what we were doing.

I bought my dad a bottle of Aqua Velva every single year. It was probably the cheapest aftershave you could buy without it being flammable alcohol for your father’s face.

Wayne Gretzky, hockey legend


Probably with my older boys, it was getting them clothes and socks that they never put on.

The best gift I ever received was a Gordie Howe jersey when I was six. Does that make your story better?

Kristyn Wong-Tam, city councillor for Ward 27

It was 1986 and my first trip back to Hong Kong in over 11 years. I left as a child and returned as a 15-year-old teenager.

For one of my elderly aunts, time had stood (still) and she still remembered me as a little girl.

She gave me a silver fleece tracksuit with yellow cat illustrations all over it. It was delightfully soft to touch but I could never bring myself to wear it out of the house.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the gift because it was a reminder of my sweet aunt.

David Peterson, former premier of Ontario

It still haunts me. Some guy sent me a portrait he’d done of me. It was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

I don’t even know who the guy was. He might have been a great talent. Maybe I was ugly.

I put it in my basement and I used to bring it out to scare the kids when they misbehaved.

Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for humour


When I was in high school, I worked at a local gas station in the evenings and on weekends.

One year, I used my employee discount to give my mother a new car battery for Christmas, as she’d been having problems with hers. A lump of coal may well have given her as much joy on Christmas morning.

 
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