One of my wonderful readers sent me a link to an article by Smithsonian Magazine and the title was “A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories.” It was a great article, and I highly recommend it. And, since they pleaded, I thought I would go through my files and find ghost stories about Christmas to share with you this Freaky Friday before Christmas. These are stories told to me by others about their special visitors during the holiday season.
My father had just passed away after Thanksgiving. My mom had died when I was younger, so I was pretty much all alone now. I hadn’t bothered putting up a tree or really done anything for Christmas. I thought, what’s the use, it’s just me. It was a couple of days before Christmas, and I was feeling really sad and lonely. Nothing was on television except Christmas specials, and I really didn’t want to watch those, so I decided to go to bed early.
I woke in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I knew something was different. I pulled on my robe, walked out of my bedroom, and went to the top of the stairs. Suddenly, I could smell fresh pine, like every Christmas when we brought in the real tree. I looked over the banister to the front hallway and could see lights glittering from the living room, like Christmas tree lights. I have to admit, at first I was really afraid. But then, I reasoned, really, what thieves would break into a house and put up a Christmas tree?
“Hello?” I called from the top of the stairs. “Who is down there?”
No one answered.
I slowly went down the stairs and when I entered the living room, there was nothing. No tree. No lights. And then I inhaled, no pine smell. I sat down on the couch and started to sob. I missed my parents so much. I missed all of the things we did together. I missed family.
I don’t know how long I cried, but after a little while, I could smell the pine again and I could feel an overwhelming feeling of love, like my parents had their arms around me and were holding me. I sat there, in the dark of the room, and could feel their presence, their love and comfort. The feeling lasted for several minutes and it’s something I will never forget. I truly believe it was a Christmas miracle sent just for me.
My husband was serving in the military and things got mixed up with his pay, so I was trying my best to make ends meet. I’d talk to the people at the base and they were okay about holding off on rent, but the rest of the money in our checking account had to go towards bills and food, there wasn’t going to be enough for Christmas gifts.
On Christmas Eve night there was a knock on the door. A woman was standing on the doorstep with a big box in her hands and several bags on the ground beside her. She explained that she was from a local agency and had found out about my situation. She was bringing us Christmas. I helped her carry in the bags and was overwhelmed, there was food, treats for the kids and some small gifts. Enough for my children to have Christmas. I thanked her and then asked her how she found out about us.
She smiled and shook her head. “Well,” she confided. “Actually, your dad came to my house the other night. He knocked on the door and when I answered, he told me that you needed someone to give you Christmas. He was so sweet.”
She probably thought my expression was odd, because I know that my face showed not only surprise, but shock. You see, my father had died six months earlier.
This Christmas was the worst Christmas ever. My mom had been ill for several months, so I had to quit my job to take care of her. I don’t regret that at all, but it made our finances even tighter. Then, when my mom passed away in October, I had a hard time finding a job. I had to take a bunch of temporary jobs that didn’t pay much, and I was driving from one end of town to the other. Christmas was approaching, but I had so much I still needed to take care of; my mom’s house still had all of her stuff inside, my own family was still dealing with the grief of her death, and I was still exhausted from being a caretaker, a mom and now, the stress of a bunch of part-time jobs.
Finally, one Sunday before Christmas, I drove over to her house. I have to admit that I drove over there because my husband and I had just finished having the fight of the century over what we were going to do for Christmas. I just wanted to skip Christmas this year. We really couldn’t afford it, so why pretend?
I unlocked the house and turned on the lights. This was the home I’d grown up in, so I wasn’t frightened or freaked out. It was just home.
I looked around, overwhelmed. There was so much to do, so much to pack up in order to get the house ready to sell. I dropped my purse on the coffee table, walked over to the thermostat to turn up the heat and then decided I’d start in Mom’s sewing room, the smallest room in the house. I could probably handle that in an afternoon.
I opened the closet in the room and, to my surprise, I found several stacks of shirt boxes on the shelves. Each white box had a year printed on the side. They were the years when I was growing up.
I pulled out one box. On the top of the pile was the letter I’d written to Santa that year. I smiled when I’d read it. The list was the entire front and nearly the entire back of the paper. At least I’d saved enough space at the end to wish Santa a Merry Christmas. I put the page to the side and looked underneath to find photos of our Christmas that year. As I searched the photos, I realized that none of the things I’d asked for ended up under the tree. I hadn’t remembered that.
I opened the next box and found the same thing.
Year after year, there was a record of what I thought I wanted and then evidence of what I received. And in all the photos I was happy. No, I was delighted.
I put the last box in place and shook my head, this was just like my mom, sending me teaching moments. “Okay,” I said aloud. “I get it. Christmas isn’t all about the gifts.”
Suddenly the temperature dropped in the room. A felt a cold wash of wind sweep over me. “Crap,” I said. “We don’t need to house to have furnace issues.”
I stepped out of the closet and turned back into the room. There, on my mom’s sewing table, was a box. It hadn’t been there before. I know I would have seen it. I would swear on a stack of Bibles, it wasn’t there when I walked in the room.
It took me a moment to get enough courage to walk over to it. For the first time in my life, I was a little spooked in my parent’s house. I lifted the lid and found the angel tree-topper we’d always used. Her porcelain face was worn, her dress was slightly yellowed, and her wings were a bit misshapen, but, she was as beautiful to me as she was the first time we’d put her on the top of the tree.
Christmas didn’t have to be perfect. No, I shook my head, Christmas was perfect. The stuff. The trimmings, the gifts, the decorations, the expectations – they didn’t have to be perfect if Christmas was in our hearts like it had been when I was growing up.
“Thanks, Mom,” I whispered, and suddenly the room was warm again.
I don’t know if that was my mom in her sewing room with me. I don’t know if the cold was her spirit. To this day, I swear that box was not on the table when I entered the room. But whatever it was, it changed the worst Christmas ever to the best Christmas ever.