Ghosts Love Christmas

Ghosts love Christmas. They get to drop in and enjoy the fun parts, without the logistical worries. I don’t know that, perhaps ghosts have worries too. I have heard they have jobs to do, and we know they are not perfect or finished beings.

    They love the music and food. They spur us on to sing the same songs and bake the same confections of hundreds of years ago. Even mince pie and flaming puddings. They coined the saying “Merry Christmas” and made it almost mandatory, while “merry” isn’t even a word used for anything else anymore. It just sounds uncomfortably British and Victorian, in this geographic area, but we keep saying it anyway.

    Perhaps you never go to church services or have thought much about what you believe for religion, but here you are, in a dark candlelit chapel at midnight, belting out “Oh Come All ye Faithful” and feeling like you have done this for an eternity. The ghosts are there, loving that.

    There might be some family recipe you want to make. Going back not as far as the Victorians, my family made cheesecake “tarts” on top of Nilla wafers, in mini foil cupcake wrappers. You would have to carefully spoon the cherry pie filling from the can, so it would fit. Ghosts come from all time periods. The people you remember and miss. And the people from much longer ago, who were discreetly written both onto pages from registers and bibles, and your DNA. We are not as separate from our ancestors as we think, even when we want to be.

    Ghosts come around from much longer ago than Christmas. They remind you of how they liked to dance around campfires and roar with laughter, as the solstice arrived with its promise of returning light. They lived so long ago, yet they remember you and know exactly who you are. Time means nothing to them. They will help you if you ask them. They might even say they have been waiting for you to ask.

   When you drag in a pine tree from some forest and gather your family together to stay warm and look at its lights, ghosts might come from all around, even if they are not directly related to you. They might be telling you stories from the land, the same forests, and how they used to live there in a quieter time. They may have noticed you the other day, and arranged for three crows to speak with you, on your afternoon walk.

   Some ghosts may be tiny: salamanders, birds, worms, and microbes. They have been making the earth for you and breathing alongside you, all along. They might look at the cold stars and wonder if it will snow, just like you.

Ghosts have gone through each Christmas with you before. They will remind you of the people who left, and the people you once cherished even though they have since gone in a different direction. They will remind you of a night on which you were young and captivated by all the ghostliness around you, and joined in the laughter and song, even though you had no idea what you were doing.

   My daughter is a ghost now. After she had gone, I was not ready to think about that for a long time. I was unable to visit her resting place. That was for dead people, and ghosts. I instead visited her in her dresser drawer. I found her by looking at the dresses, socks, and tights I had bought for her and remembering everything we did together.

    Now, I love visiting her there, Green Wood Cemetery. It is a place full of natural beauty and history, catacombs where cello concerts are performed, and a meditative Koi Pond. It is a place where my sadness and sacred questions are allowed to breathe.

    My family is delayed in some holiday preparations due to having Covid. I puttered around during my isolation last week and tried, once again, to build a fortress where death could not find us from here on. There is no such thing. But we are fortified with modern medicine and doing okay.

    I picked through some of the Christmas things I needed today, including all the angel ornaments given to us by many friends, family and neighbors, to help us always remember Susanna. I said out loud, “Why did this have to happen, Susanna? Why did you die? Why?” There is no answer for this. “Why? Why? Why?” is answered by “Because, Because, Because.” Or in Spanish, there is only one word: ?Por que? Porque.

    The smallest light is growing on the darkest night. Life is hard, but life is rich, and we all belong here, together. Cheers, have a bowl of hot punch.

By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for your writings, Trish. This side of life is full of trials not all fun and happiness but we can choose to be Merry during this season. Love to all❤️

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