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The Ghost of Christmas Past?

It was two Sundays before Christmas:  I was sitting in a back row pew at the church, singing a Christmas song.   I don’t remember which one.  I was alone, as my husband was in the sound booth, and my son was in children’s church.  There was one other family on the other side of the pew, at least fifteen feet away.  As one song ended, and the next began, I smiled:  Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.   Not a favorite, but I liked it.  I remember my spirits were in good form that day, with no major crisis distracting me from the holiday season.

Suddenly, I felt this presence next to me.  I didn’t see anything, but I “felt” this light and this warmth next to me.  I remember thinking that Grandpa was next to me.  He told me everything would be fine.  I was filled with a sense of peace and warmth.  It lasted just a moment.  I surreptitiously looked around, to see if anyone else had noticed this. Everyone was singing along, oblivious to whatever had just happened.  My eyes filled with tears, and I silently offered up a prayer to whoever was listening.

I would like to say I have never had anything like that happen before, but I can’t.  There was something very familiar about the entire experience, but I cannot list a time and date that something like that has happened before.  It was very surreal.  Was it my Grandfather?  He had passed away on December 29th of the previous year.  We were headed home in a few days to see Grandma, who was in failing health (and who would pass away on December 27th, 2 days short of the first anniversary of Grandpa’s death).   I believe my Grandfather is in Heaven, but I do not believe he is allowed to come down and visit.  Was it an angel, letting me know Grandpa was OK? Or that Grandma would be with him soon?   Maybe it didn’t have anything to do with my grandfather, but for some reason I felt his presence.  To the best of my knowledge, this was not a favorite song.  I don’t know what happened that day in church or why, but I’m OK with that.  It was something good, and while I’m not entirely sure of the message, the peace it gave me was indescribable.

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My first ghost story (true story)

It was 1990, and I had just moved into my first house.  This was my third year of college, and I was finally out of  the dorm with nobody watching over me.  Four of us decided to rent a house together, and the previous spring we had found a lovely 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow on the north end of town.  It was an older house, probably built in the 20s, and now I would say it met the definition of “college slum”, but we loved it and it was ours, at least for a year.

 Fast forward to Christmas break, and we had all traveled to our respective homes over the holidays.  Being grown-ups with our own place, however, we had decided to come home a wee bit early to have our own New Year’s Eve party, before classes resumed.  Somehow, we made it through the evening without the local 5-0 breaking up our little soiree, nobody puked – in the house that is – and nothing was set ablaze or broken.  It was a smashing success!

 The night before classes resumed, we were sitting around, chatting:  the three official roommates and two boyfriends, who had become a part of the household.  I’m not honestly sure which roommate started the conversation, but someone mentioned “the guy in blue” they often saw in the bar/stairway area.  I just remember the hairs on the back of my neck rising, as another said, “Oh, you’ve seen him too?  I thought it was my imagination!” 

 Weird things happened in that room, that we had all witnessed:  The little refrigerator’s motor turned on and off, even when it wasn’t plugged in, bottles fell off the bar, the cat hissed at imaginary things, and one time, a bottle slid across the bar and hit the wall.  Consider who we were, however:  college kids with no supervision, a house with a built-in bar, and at least two who were 21. We all chalked it up to being drunk. 

 As we each told our tales of seeing something out of the corner of our eye, assuming it was one of the boyfriends, or just imagining something, a theme developed.  It was definitely a man, tall, and wearing some kind of long-sleeved blue shirt:  denim, or blue dress oxford, or even a seersucker coat.  Nobody felt it was menacing or evil, just a presence. 

 As the next few months progressed, our sightings continued.  One roommate, who suffered from sleep apnea, was sure he woke her up one night.  I often felt his presence on the first few stairs, heading up to the second floor, but not in my room.  My boyfriend was convinced the ghost stood behind him one night while he was in the bathroom (just off the main room where we saw him).  He simply became part of our house, and we’d talk about him, but that was it.  Eventually the school year ended, and we moved our separate ways, to different houses and eventually graduating.  I still think about the blue man.  I wonder who he was, and why he was there.  A few quick searches on the address didn’t turn up anything.  Maybe someday I’ll do more investigating.  I just wish him peace.   

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