Christmas time is near, and so those must be chains I hear rattling in my attic. Ghosts are as fond of bright lights and happy music as they are of shadows and cobwebs. I loved Christmas as a boy for the star on top of the tree and the songs about Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men because who in their right mind wouldn’t want that? Even though gifts are disappointing compared to songs, it’s easy to become confused that what you want is wrapped in a bright package. After all, you know you want something. You know that as sure as you know you must eat. You know that you are looking for something, but the search is as frightening as it is fascinating because what if you never find it?
I think a small part of me died whenever I opened a gift and felt disappointed that what I was looking for wasn’t in a box. Except what dies cannot stay buried, and so roams my attic in chains, waking me in the middle of the night or interrupting my gruel. Ghosts never want to leave you alone no matter how kindly you beg.
Yet the more I hear from them, the more I see they hold no grudge. Very generous, considering I killed them once. They just make such a racket. It’s hard to do anything else when they are around, least of all write. I finally invited a few in, and frankly they scared me straight out of my nightshirt at first sight. They tell me graveyards are for the living, not the dead. Christmas is for the dead—so here they are.
I tell them Christmas is about a baby in a manger and Figgie Pudding and a fire in the fireplace and a decent bottle of wine. They tell me I have it all wrong. Christmas is every bit about ghosts. They will haunt me as long as I want know love. Build a tree to love and light a star on top and they come all the quicker. And why shouldn’t they? Love beckons what I need most, and lights the path toward what I have been searching for.