3rd Place – November 2019

The Spirit of Christmas


Gail Armstrong

The secluded guest room in the lower level was dark and cool.  I turned over in bed onto my back. There it was floating in the darkness. A white orb, small at first but grew bigger as it pulsated and became whole.
I was fully awake.
Eyes and nose appeared first, cheeks and mouth next. A complete face that appeared to look at nothing. A head of dark medium length hair. A man. Clothes that looked centuries old with a high neckline, long billowy sleeves.
I was transfixed. Not a sound. My body paralyzed, my mind unable to think, eyes trapped in a captive trance. I’d read about this. Now I was witnessing it. It had my complete attention. Spirit or ghost; it was in my room.
Marc lay asleep beside me, unaware of the presence in our room. I watched the apparition move across the foot of the bed as though on wheels. Then turn and disappear around the corner right past Marc. It shot straight through the freaking wall and was gone. Holy Mother of Jesus.  What in God’s creation was that? My heart raced.
 Nick and his wife Pam longed for children.  He was our only child, our sole hope for grandchildren. Five years of marriage, with no sign of a baby. Disappointment set in for all of us, but especially Pam.
 We were excited to visit them in their new home for Christmas, a home that was part of the
Parade of Homes, new, bright and modern.  We hoped to add some festive, family spirit. I didn’t expect this kind.
Breakfast was late. The night before was Christmas eve and we stayed up late to open gifts.
“Good morning family, Merry Christmas,” I said as sleepy eyed, pajama clad people straggled into the warm kitchen. “How did you all sleep last night?” Did they see it?
“I slept like a freaking rock Mom. I needed sleep. It’s been a hectic week.” Nick stretched
long arms out as he bent side to side. “Yeah, Good morning; Merry Christmas. Aw, still sleepy though and hungry as a bear. “Grrrrrr. Y’all up for bacon and eggs?”
Marc’s ears perked up hearing the ‘b’ word. “Does Santa have a white beard?”
“He did the last time I saw him.” Nick opened the fridge, grabbed bacon and slapped several pieces on a griddle heating up on the stove.
 The intoxicating aroma filled our nostrils as the pork snapped and crackled.
“I had a hard time falling to sleep, as usual.” Pam yawned. “Merry Christmas.  Glad you’re here. Family makes the holiday special.”
“I slept like a dead man.” Marc guffawed.
“Have either of you seen anything different or spooky here since you moved in?” I pushed the button on the question and on the Keurig.
I needed a hot cup of joe this morning. Wine would have been better.
“The only thing spooky here Mom is how I look in the morning.” Pam said. “At least if I were pregnant, I wouldn’t mind.” Her lips dropped in a frown, as she sat back and rubbed her flat belly.
Pam hankered to have a baby. We felt for her, for them both.
“Well, I saw something bazaar last night. Not to scare you both, but…you have spirits in your house.” I waited.
“Yeah? Who exactly? Ebenezer Scrooge?” Nick laughed, poured coffee and sat down.
“Ha. Funny. No, and I wasn’t frightened. It was more of a spiritual encounter.”
I told them what I saw.
“Holy crap Mom.” Coffee dribbled down his chin.
“Damn, I missed it.” Marc added.
“Do you know what was on this land before the houses were built?”
“Nothing much. Corn fields for years before these homes were built in 2015.  I’ll check it out tomorrow at the library.” He perked up.
We showered and dressed casual for Christmas dinner.
Nick prepared his famous sausage cornbread stuffing.
Marc put a bottle of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc on ice.
Pam tried to be happy as we set a festive holiday table with red linens, white china and votive candles imbedded in fresh boxwood from the backyard.
The grand aroma of roast turkey triggered fond holiday memories for me.
The clatter of dishes, laughs between Nick and Marc helped to warm the house.
“Christmas is magical,” I said.
“A baby would be magical. Grandma said someday I would make beautiful babies.”
Pam’s eyes teared up.
The next morning Nick came back from town with answers.
“This land was once an old fur trader’s settlement back around the time of the revolution.
Also, a book on spirits said they can migrate to any place and could go to a place where a problem exists or it could be a loved one gone on.”
“Is there another problem here son? Not to be nosey but is everything good here?”
“Ah yeah Mom, that’s what I’d call nosey and Yeah; Pam and I are great.”
After a pause he added, “We’re unhappy that the prospect of having a family looks slim.”
“Maybe the ‘spirit’ migrated here to help,” I said sheepishly.
“Hah, we’d take help from anything” Nick sighed.
“What else did you find out?”
“Well, the book said spirits or orbs are balls of energy, and we are all assigned a spirit before we are born. They help and guide us throughout our lives. They can be people we knew that have passed on, if you believe that crap.” He pursed his lips and smirked.
“I happen to believe that crap,” I said. “What I saw was real and I believe it was here for a reason.
What can Dad and I do to help?”
“Well, there’s a ritual we can do where we light candles, form a circle and everyone joins hands. First, we say special prayers to the angels and God to keep the area and us safe.”
“The book says we need a positive attitude.” A look of worry loomed in his squinted eyes as he raised his shoulders and hands in doubt. “I wonder if that’s possible. Not much positive stuff around here.”
“It can’t hurt to try; we could all participate. Talk with Pam,” I said.
“Crazy, but—I’m up for anything.” Her eyes dark and sad, reflected her yearning.
 Let’s do it.” Her face brightened as she stroked her long mane of red hair.
We talked fervently of staying positive.
“Let’s do it.”  Nick and Pam agreed.
 We dimmed the lights and lit several candles as we joined hands around the kitchen table.
 Nick started. “Spirit. Whoever the hell you are, get to work and spirit” Bring us a baby. Sorry, I don’t believe this is gonna help, but we need to be positive so, I accept your guidance.
He looked at Pam. “You’re next.”
“Dear spirit, if you are Grandma, first, I’m happy you’re here. We’ve tried for months to have a baby. Something is wrong. It makes me sad. I love you and miss you. Can you help us?”
I spoke. “Spirit, I believe you came to me the other night because I’m open to spirits.
My mind and heart accept you. My children need your guidance and help to have a child. We pray to you, the universe and our guardian angels to help them in any way you can.” I looked at Marc.
“You’re next.”
“Okay, I’m not too…”
 “For God’s sake Marc, positive.” I growled to him over my shoulder.
“Okay, spirit, please help these kids have a kid. That’s all I have to say.”
“The book said when finished, to imagine a space filled with a white light.” Nick said.
We did and felt that we had experienced something good. Time would tell.
We enjoyed a couple more days with them even though Pam was depressed. We left for home with heavy hearts.
Over the next five months, we talked frequently with Nick and Pam.
It was the end of May when we got the phone call from Nick. “Hi Mom. We were reminiscing about how much better last Christmas was having you and Dad here. It meant a lot. We gained the positive mindset we needed.”
“Dad and I loved being with you. When are you coming east to visit?”
“I’m glad you asked. How about Christmas?”
“Oh, I’d love it.”  I yelled to Marc. The kids are coming to Vermont for Christmas. We’ll clean up the spare bedroom. My treadmill’s in there, and…”
“Mom listen, that’s good but could you put something in its’ place?”
“Yeah, like what? A chair? A coat rack?”
“No, a crib.”
“Oh my God, she’s…”
“Yes, Mom, we’re pregnant.” Pam joined in. “Your granddaughter is due December 1st.”
“Holy jumping spirit.” I jumped up and down as I shouted to Marc.
“They’re having—we’re having a baby—a girl, a granddaughter.”
Now convince me you don’t believe in spirits and seances!
Our positive attitude made a difference.

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