Holiday Dysfunction

When asked about favorite Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa memories, most people remember the good times. Ask a musician the same question and, instead of poignant tales of seasonal mirth, you hear stories of embarrassment and crime. There's a lesson about artists wrapped up in there somewhere, but it's a little too tragic to consider. That said, thank a secularized Santa you're not one of these guys.

Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy): "Seven years ago, I was living in an apartment and came home for Christmas, but no one was getting along. That was the year I'd decided to stop wearing big pants and wear littler pants — tighter pants. I got called gay and a woman the entire night, so I left and went over to my friend's house and had Christmas with his family. I don't think they knew what to do with me because I'd just shown up there, so they just wrapped a bunch of random stuff they had in their house and gave me other people's presents, like, öOh, this is for Steve, but it's for you now, Pete.'"

Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat): "When I was eight, I was in the school Christmas play. I just remember insisting that I dress up like Michael Jackson for this Santa's workshop scene. At the time, that was my whole thing. When I think back now to what I thought Michael Jackson's aesthetic was, though, it doesn't really make sense. I had these red-and-black fingerless, studded gloves, which were totally not a Michael Jackson thing at all. And I had these random novelty gold pendants I was wearing that was more of a Mr. T thing. I remember I got into a fight with my parents, too, because I insisted I had to wear these jeans with tears in the knees."

Fefe Dobson: "One Christmas I got up at six and waited until my mom finally got up around noon. I was practically in tears by then. But the first present was from my sister and as big as a six-year-old child, so I was excited. I ripped through the paper and opened the box and there was more paper. I'm thinking, öAll right, it's breakable. Must be expensive.' As I got to the bottom, my hope started to run out and there were tears in my eyes. All there was was a bright, shiny copper penny. It wasn't even like we believed in pennies being good luck or anything. It was just to laugh at me."

Leela James: "I just remember I never believed in Santa Claus, and I'd have this debate with everyone in the neighborhood. This particular year, I had this serious campaign to prove I was correct, so I was going to stay up all night and go to all my friends' houses to look for this so-called Santa Claus or find evidence of him delivering these gifts. Needless to say, I didn't get any proof of Santa coming down our chimneys. Then again, I grew up in South Central, so we didn't have chimneys. On Christmas morning, though, all my friends had pictures of Santa Claus, late at night, on top of their roofs with this big bag, but I found out later they were just pictures of my friends' dad. They always knew there was no Santa Claus, so they stayed up all night fabricating proof that there was one to have fun with me."

Garcia: "I grew up with my cousin Nick. I'm an only child and he was pretty much a brother to me. As we grew older, he had certain legal complications that stretched from when he was about 18 to when he was 25. He wasn't in jail for seven years straight, but for some reason he spent Christmas in jail for several years. About three years ago, they let him out just before Christmas — without any restrictions or anything. Nobody had seen him for years, and we celebrated Christmas that year at my place. His parents were over and so were mine, and my mother loves Nick. And it was incredible to see him — the best present we could've hoped for."

Evil Jared Hasselhoff (Bloodhound Gang): "About five Christmases ago — so pre-September 11 — I was coming back to the U.S. from Germany, where I'd bought a butterfly knife. Perfectly legal in America and Germany — but we had to go through Heathrow Airport in London. When they found it in my carry-on, they asked, öWhat do you plan to do with this?' öIt's a butterfly knife. I don't know. Um, spread some butter on my toast? If it's illegal, just take it.' öThis is an assault weapon, sir. It's a very serious crime.' ö Are you kidding me? Take it.' öNo, no, sir. You're going to jail.' So they arrest me and take me to Heathrow jail and I'm rotting there for six hours as the cops yell at me like I'm a terrorist. Meanwhile I'm trying to tell them that I'm just some stupid hillbilly. I got my first butterfly knife from my dad when I was thirteen. When they opened my wallet, they found my NRA ID and my carry permit and asked, öWhat's this?' öIt's my carry permit.' öWhat's that mean?' öBack home, I can carry a gun anywhere I go.' öReally?' öYep.' öSo you really are just a dumb hillbilly?' öThat's what I've been trying to tell you.' And so they put me on the next flight, letting me go."

Shooter Jennings: "I had this third parent, Maureen, who took care of the house and the kids while my parents [Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter] were on tour. She got this catalogue from Japan or somewhere, from where the next Super Power toys were coming out during the next year. She was going to try to get them before their release and give them to me for Christmas. So she's calling and sniffing around and, all of a sudden, the FBI calls her and says, öHow do you know about these toys?' thinking she's with another company and it's some sort of espionage. They basically threatened her for even knowing these toys were coming out. And she's just like, öBut I have the catalogue.'"

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Cole Haddon