Your birthday is supposed to be a joyous day; a day of celebration, fun, and presents. That's not exactly the case for the people in the following stories. These poor souls spent their birthdays with crummy gifts, shattered expectations, and a general sense of dread, so read along and see how it all went down.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
Their Mom Bought Herself A Gift Instead
“One year on my birthday, money was tight, real tight. I was in my mid-teens when my mom took me aside and explained that I would not be receiving a birthday present that year. My inner child screamed, but I just nodded and smiled and thanked my mom. The day came, and there was no present. It hurt, but I was determined to be a man about it. Two days later, I was in the kitchen when I noticed a shopping bag on the bench. Being a curious person I had a look to see what was inside. When I looked inside, I found the most enormous amount of pot I had ever seen in one place. I knew my mom, and her boyfriend smoked, but come on.”
All He Wanted Was Father-Son Time
“My dad took my three young stepbrothers to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field on my 21st birthday. The only problem was he didn’t invite me.
He was supposed to meet me for a drink at midnight the night before but didn’t show up, call, or even text. That was hurtful. He stood me up for my birthday then took my three stepbrothers to a baseball game later that day.
We got together a few months after my birthday and he gave me a jersey he bought at Wrigley. Then it dawned on me that he didn’t buy me a present until a later date. He didn’t even think about it until after I expressed how hurtful it was.
I’ve been telling my dad since I was 8 or so that all I wanted was time with him for my birthday.
Our relationship is to the point where he’s ‘Kevin’ in my phone, not dad.”
Their Birthday Got Off On The Wrong Foot
“When I was 8 years old, my family was involved in a horrible car crash. I was sitting on the right-hand side of the car, with my foot in the gap between the front passenger seat and the side of the car. Then we were t-boned by a guy who had been drinking in a massive SUV. My foot was destroyed, and doctors saw no other option than to amputate it. My mom died from the impact of the SUV, and my dad and my sister died later.
At the time of my 10th birthday, it had been almost two years since the accident. My skin still looked like overcooked meatloaf, and I was still healing, but thanks to the love I received from my adoptive parents, I was doing rather well mentally. The shrinks and meds also helped.
There were about 15 people in my class and because I was still having a rough time with the tragedy two years prior, my adoptive parents allowed me to invite all 15 classmates to my birthday party. So I handed out the invites a few weeks before the party.
On the day of the party, it was a beautiful Saturday, and our house was decorated with balloons, confetti, and other party fare. My adoptive parents got an inflatable castle, tons of snacks, and I was so happy and excited for the party to start, which was at 2 p.m.
At 2 p.m., no one had arrived. I thought people maybe didn’t know where our house was. It wasn’t a common name, and only a handful of people had GPS at that point. At 2:30 p.m., still no one. I was starting to get worried a bit. I kept staring out of the window, hoping my classmates would show up, but no one. I kept staring out of my window until 6 p.m. Then my mom called me for dinner. I wasn’t hungry, so I went off to my room and pretty much cried myself to sleep. It was at that moment I realized no one liked the scarred little freak with only one foot.”
They Received An Unforgettable Lesson
“I graduated around the same time I turned 18. My mom and stepdad didn’t get me anything for my birthday because they were already giving me money as a graduation gift. Everyone except for my grandmother followed suit. This would have been fine except for the fact that my mom opened a bank account for me to store the money I was going to use for college. Well, a week later my parents spent all my money to pay off their various debts. I learned a hard lesson that day: don’t trust your parents with money. I opened a bank account of my own, got a job, and moved out to another state.
I rarely talk to or see my parents anymore. They’ve done a lot to earn my distrust, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I didn’t celebrate my 21st birthday either. My boyfriend at the time forgot it was my birthday and demanded we clean all weekend. I bought myself flowers twice because I didn’t have anyone in my life who’d do this for me even if I asked for it.”
An Awkward, Uncomfortably Quiet Dinner
“My wife and I were splitting up. She’d been cheating on me with this guy named Steve.
She decided to move out the weekend of my birthday, and so I went to house-sit for a friend while she packed up her stuff. On my birthday, she called me up and offered to buy me one last birthday dinner. I agreed. We met up at the restaurant, and everything was going smoothly. Over appetizers, I asked, ‘So, how’d you find out about this place?’
She quickly responded, ‘Steve tuned me onto it, isn’t it great?’
What followed was an uncomfortably quiet birthday dinner.”
His Son Couldn’t Take The Abuse
“Two birthdays ago my ex-wife threatened me in the driveway while I was leaving with my son to go to dinner with my family.
My son threw up from the stress of having his mother call me some of the most hurtful degrading things not worth repeating.
My ex-wife called the police and reported that I had abducted my child.
And I mourned the loss of a partner of 8 years that for some reason now wanted me dead.
I don’t think there will be a worse birthday, but I skipped last year just in case.”
He Was In For A Surprise, That’s For Sure
“My 13th birthday. My dad is married to this terrible woman (my step-monster). She barges into my room early and wakes me up and tells me I need to go downstairs and clean the entire kitchen before I go to school.
I’m a little surprised, but as I go downstairs it dawns on me that they want to keep me busy downstairs so they can set-up my presents upstairs. Awesome!
I go to work with a smile on my face anticipating what is going to be waiting for me. She comes back down when I’m almost done and asks me to mop the floors. OH MAN! IT’S SO BIG THEY NEED MORE TIME TO GET IT READY!!!
At this point, I’m dripping with excitement, literally about to pee my pants at what could possibly be waiting for me upstairs.
I’m finishing the floor and her and my dad comes to the kitchen. It’s time. They both look at me and say, ‘We forgot it was your birthday… we’re sorry. Go upstairs and get ready for school.’ I thought it was a ruse, so I happily bounce upstairs to find nothing waiting for me except an unmade bed and ruined 13th birthday.”
She Got The Cold Shoulder Instead
“I had a sleepover with all the girls from my fifth-grade class on my 11th birthday. I had to switch schools before that school year, and I wanted all of them to come. We went out to see a movie, and none of the girls would sit with me. When we got back to my house, all of the girls spent the night in my brother’s room playing PlayStation. They also gave me constant grief because we didn’t have cable.
The next morning, after everyone left, my mom took me out for a day of ‘whatever you want to do’ because I the girls pretty much ignored me the entire party. It was humiliating.”
It Started With Domestic Abuse And Only Got Worse
“My ex-boyfriend was angry at me until 3 a.m. or so on my birthday one year, and he kept pushing and shoving me while throwing out insults. I asked him for a hug before he went to spend the night playing video games and he stared at me and said ‘no’ in the nastiest way possible. This was always over petty stuff that I did wrong in his eyes.
I tried to hug him in the morning before I left for work the next morning, but he put me in a headlock and squeezed me until I pulled away. I tried to talk because I was scared that if I didn’t make sure we were okay, he’d be angry and try to hurt me all day. He liked to abuse me in subtle ways so he could deny hurting me on purpose. That made me feel crazy too.
Apparently, the entire incident was my fault, and it made me late to work where I was supposed to be irrigating a field. There was a miscommunication with work, and I thought I was supposed to leave the water on all morning, so I thought the start time didn’t matter. Boy, was I wrong.
My boss chewed me out and said some nasty things about me sleeping all the time. I did not sleep at all, and I’d been sleep deprived for months at this point because of my ex screaming at me at night. I wanted to tell him the truth and that I was exhausted and my boyfriend had hurt me that morning, and I was making sure I was safe before I left. And that it was my birthday and I just wanted to not be yelled at on my birthday.
Instead, I went and cried in the field and thought about hanging myself in the barn because I was alone, just so alone. I looked up how to tie a noose and wrote out and then deleted a text to my mom about how she needed to rehome my dog. I felt like I was guilty of everything all the time and treated like someone who couldn’t do anything right by all sides. At least, it felt like that.
I’m glad I changed my mind that day.”
Subtlety Wasn’t This Teacher’s Strong Suit
“When I was in the seventh grade, I was a mess. I have naturally oily skin and hair, and that was hard to keep under control. Well, one of my teachers kept me after class one day to ask me when was the last time I had taken a shower.
It was hurtful, and I think she realized that after she asked. Just before my birthday, she pulled me aside again to give me a present. It was shampoo, conditioner, a brush and comb set, hair ties, and hair clips.
Not So Sweet Sixteen
“When I was 15, my best friend and I decided that we should do something for my next birthday. I never do anything for my birthday, so I was a little worried but excited at the same time. Through the year, we celebrated his birthday, his brother’s, his sister’s, and a mutual friend’s birthdays. We got ideas and planned out something awesome to do for mine. He was stoked to be the person to do something for my birthday.
A couple of weeks before my birthday, my friend’s dad announced that the family would be moving across the country. On my birthday.
It’s been over 20 years, and I still don’t celebrate my birthday. It seems that nothing good happens when people try, so I don’t bother letting anyone know when my birthday is, but that always stands out as a horrible day for me. All that build up and my present was to get nothing besides losing my best friend.”
His Mom Kept Her Promise
“I was going to take an impulsive trip with my brother up to my godparents’ cabin for my 26th birthday. My mother was sick and dying of cancer. I called her before I left because I had a bad feeling about leaving.
I explained my worry, and she laughed in a slow, tired way. She told me to go up north and enjoy myself. I expressed hesitancy, and she told me that I was, of course, welcome to spend my birthday with her but I would probably have more fun with my cousins.
After a long conversation, I made her promise me that she wouldn’t ‘check out early.’ She promised and wished me a happy birthday. I drove up that night to the cabin where nobody remembered that it was my birthday. I had an okay weekend, and when I came home, my mother had kept her promise. She checked out ten days later. I know it didn’t happen on my birthday, but I regret not spending that final birthday with my mom.”
Kicked Out By An Evil Step Mom
“I came home on my 12th birthday to find a giant garbage bag of everything I owned from my father’s house dumped on my mom’s front porch.
He didn’t even gently place anything in the bag. My toys, figurines, board games were all broken and opened and turned into a mess. My bedding was balled up and wrinkled.
It turns out his new wife hated me but loved my brothers. So they got to stay, and I didn’t. He didn’t bother telling me why or saying goodbye. Nothing. He didn’t even look at me whenever he came to pick up my brothers.
You know, until he had a kid with the new wife and wanted a babysitter. Then suddenly he wanted me to come around again.
I’m totally not still bitter.”
It’s Not Ice Cream, But It’s Still Cold As Ice
“On my 19th birthday, my girlfriend at the time was working late at an ice cream shop. I was convinced that she was coming to see me right after work because she promised to bring me ice cream for my birthday. My parents kept asking when she was coming.
Well, she finally showed up around 1 a.m. Instead of spending time with me, she grabbed a change of clothes (we lived with my parents) and left the promise ring I had given her next to my TV.
I found out a year later that she cheated on me that night with some other guy.”
This Gift Came A Few Years Too Early
“My uncle gave me a pair of binoculars. Or what I thought was binoculars. It turns out it was a flask. One side of the binoculars was hollowed out, and the eyepiece was a screwable lid. It even came with a case and strap, which would be pretty convincing if you were sneaking drinks into an event or a game. But I was about 11 years old at the time.”
Melted Ice Cream And Tears For This 4th Birthday
“For my fourth birthday, I had spent it all alone with my mom. My mom had spent it crying locked away in her bedroom, I didn’t understand why. Usually, my dad would get home around 3 pm and I’d always sit by the kitchen window which overlooked the bus stop he would get off at to come home and I’d get all happy and run to the door to greet him. 3 pm came and nothing, then 4, 5, 6… When I went to ask my mom where my dad was, her response was, ‘probably out cheating with that bimbo.’
I didn’t know what any of that meant, but it was obviously bad if my mom had locked herself way in her room was crying all day. I got impatient and thought my dad would be back any minute so I might as well take out the little ice cream cake they had got me the day before. I sat there forever, all alone at the kitchen table watching my ice cream melt. I quietly sang myself happy birthday and cried myself to sleep at the table. He never came home till the next day. He had completely forgotten about my birthday and was in fact out cheating.”
This Petty Grandma Was Up To No Good
“To set the scene, birthdays in my family have typically been just family with maybe one or two friends, but nothing too extravagant. That being said, my grandparents typically come and we all have dinner and cake. On my 11th birthday, my parents had dinner pretty much ready but there was lots of time to spare before anyone showed up, so we decided to go for a walk. While we were out, my paternal grandmother arrived. We live in the boonies, so the house was never locked, but she decided to sit outside and got angry because we weren’t there an hour before the agreed upon time.
When we got back, my parents ushered her in. The grandkids all said hello, and then the adults went in the kitchen while us kids set up a game. My grandmother put this beautiful white box with a huge red satin bow over with my parent’s present. It looked like it was straight out of a movie. I probably would have been happy if she just gave me that ribbon. A short time later, my parents came in and told us to hug our grandmother because she had somewhere else she had to be. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it at the time; she wasn’t comfortable around kids, so visits were often short. But when it came time for presents, something was wrong. That big red bow, which I was so enamored with earlier in the day was missing. In fact, there was no present from my grandmother at all.
It turns out my grandmother was mad at my dad for not anticipating she’d be there early and letting herself into the house wasn’t good enough, so she took my gift away to punish him. She tried to make it up to me with a family heirloom for Christmas – a set of little wooden angels playing different instruments. She then told me two of them were for a different collection and shouldn’t have been in the box. She spent the next ten years trying to steal them back every Christmas.”
Her Mom Just Couldn’t Stop Herself
“I went to college and as most young women did, I gained a little weight. I’m not talking like 100lbs. I went from a size 0 to a size 4. I was also in my early 20’s so a lot of that was just my body maturing.
Excitedly, when my birthday 23rd arrived, I loaded my husband in the car and drove to my parents. My mom used to buy me one expensive handbag a year on my birthday/ would generally spend around $20’s on clothes for me. This particular year, I asked for a specific handbag, nothing else just the handbag. It cost around $200. When we got to my parents, we sat for dinner and my mother and stepfather were eagerly awaiting the gift exchange. My mother gleefully handed me an envelope and informed me how selfish I was to ask for such an expensive gift after so many people were without after hurricane Katrina. She told me they had taken the money that would have been used for the purse and made a donation in my name to the hurricane victims. Confused, (this is a gift that I had received every year, but this year I was being called selfish), I accept the donation and just kind of roll with it. Then, she hands me an entire bag of clothing (around $300) which is all wayyyy too small size 0’s and tells me if I wanted to wear them, then I would need to lose the weight.
So, at this point, I realize how cruel they (mainly my mother) is being and that it is absolutely an intentional act to degrade me, insult me and tear me down. My husband takes my hand, I’m fighting back tears and tries to lead me outside and to a bar, a restaurant, somewhere, anywhere but there. My mother, in a forcible attempt to keep me there, grabs my other wrist and pierces my skin with her nails, while trying to pull me back into the house. She left massive scratches from my wrist to my elbow. My husband said, ‘I think you’ve done quite enough damage this evening.’
That was the last time I wasted my time/emotional energy to come home from college on my birthday. Even to this day, I don’t celebrate my birthday with my mother. My husband always takes me away somewhere, probably to ensure something like that will never happen again.”