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Holiday Disasters: Homeowners' Tales of Their Worst Yuletide Nightmares

By Graham Wood

It's the holiday season -- something's bound to go wrong.

We've all heard about those nightmarish holiday disaster stories in which accident after accident befalls some poor soul who just wanted a quiet, peaceful Christmas with the family. And we know you can't get enough of those stories, so we're here to bring you more!

We asked around to get some of the most ridiculous holiday horror stories from homeowners who just couldn't catch a break, and we rounded up seven of our favorites.

Unwanted Holiday Guests -- In the Christmas Tree

"My family and I travel out to the countryside of Virginia each year to cut down our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We enjoy donning our Santa hats to find the 'perfect' tree and the experience of the afternoon outdoors.

However, a few years ago, we brought home a bit more of nature than we intended: spiders! Apparently, there were egg sacs in our 'perfect tree,' and because they are so sticky, they clung to the tree branches even when the tree farm ran the tree through the agitating machine and tied it up.

Unfortunately, after a few days in the warmth of our home, we had spiderlings everywhere! I don't know what kind they were, but they were tiny and I kept finding them and their webs for weeks after the tree went up. It was almost a sad, annoying game. Each night, I would find new webs and new spiders, and I would vacuum them up.

With my diligent efforts -- and because the spiders that came for a bit of Christmas with us weren't house spiders and accordingly didn't find what they needed in our house to sustain themselves -- the problem went away after a few weeks. Lesson learned, though: Now we check each tree thoroughly before bringing it home! If we ever find an egg sac in the future, it won't change our love of the perfect tree. We will just be sure to remove the spider eggs before bringing it home!"

Missy Henriksen, Falls Church, Va.

Don't Let This Happen to You

Spiders, aphids, bark beetles and even praying mantids can live in pine and fir trees -- commonly used as Christmas trees. Their eggs live in the branches during colder months. But once they come into your home, the warmer environment causes them to hatch.

The National Pest Management Association offered these tips for keeping pests from coming into your home as you set up for the holidays:

Inspect live, fresh-cut evergreen trees, wreathes and garlands for spiders, insect nests or eggs before purchasing. Shake greenery vigorously outdoors to remove any pests before bringing them inside.

Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home on a raised structure, such as concrete blocks or poles.

Unpack decorations outdoors so pests aren't released into the home.

Store freshly baked holiday treats and opened ingredients in airtight containers.

Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour and rice -- the pungent scent repels many pantry pests.

Repack decorations in durable, sealed containers that pests can't chew through.

According to a Penn State study, you should never use aerosol pest-control sprays on Christmas trees because they are flammable.
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