I've never had a bad Christmas until that one in 95.
My mother, she's a doll I tell you, and she was wrapping singulary empty gift boxes. She was more like preparing them for display than having them summarize the holidays with new stuff on Christmas morning.
She had enough money for boxes, gift wrap, and tape, but not enough for actual presents. I was never a brat, but there was still some reasonable materialism in my person. Practice made it all the more refined. And with all my previous Christmases, I had more than my proper share of practice. My holiday spirit was this growingly greedy presence, more like an evolving summary of my abundant Christmases past. And it was that same nasty spirit, however improperly reasonable because it uses "upbringing" as an excuse, which played a big role in imprinting that memory with severe graphic detail.
I tell you, you don't forget things like that. It killed my expectations, made quick work of paralyzing my Christmas Spirit, and left me decidedly less convinced of a merry Christmas that year.