Hello everybody! Who’s ready for some late night blogmas action? This is a post from Rosie Talbot, author of the rather spooky Sixteen Souls, so it only felt right to hold it back till a bit later in the day. Onto the post!
Charlie’s Frith’s Haunted Christmas (set the Christmas before Sixteen Souls)
Grumpy ghosts are traditional for Christmas. I get it. It’s a hard time of year for the dead. Being reminded of family, even if they’re centuries lost, is always going to be tough. Plus, ghosts can’t eat mountains of turkey and stuffing, can’t open gifts or play board games. No one can see or hear them, except me, and half the time I’ve got to pretend I can’t.
Still, I try and make Christmas special for them. When Nan was alive she’d have our whole family round. While the world outside was dim and shivering, snow flecking the York skyline, we’d gather by the tree and she’d read from a big old book of Victorian ghost tales. Ollie always liked those stories, and now, since Nan died and didn’t stay earthbound, I still read one to him every year. Audrey is always around too, sitting prim and neat in her skirt suit as I read The Signalman by Dickens out loud for us.
By late morning my kid sisters and cousins are BEGGING to open prezzies. Some of the things on my wish-list are actually for Ollie. He loves Marvel and graphic novels and books. Mum always tells her friends I’m well into reading, but I’m not. It’s all for Ollie, and he needs someone to turn the pages. He might look like an eleven year old kid, but he’s got almost a century of knowledge stored behind that crooked grin, which means I always win trivial pursuit.
Usually, Heather disappears on Christmas Eve and comes back miserable by dinner time Christmas day. She doesn’t like to talk about her living family over in Sheffield, but I reckon she’s thinking on them and that’s what makes her sad every year. She and Audrey will have their traditional Christmas bust up, usually about me, and then Ollie will smooth things out by singing Good King Wenceslas at the top of his lungs until they unite against him. Heather loves winter, so we’ll go out to the porch to watch the snow and throw balled up wrapping paper down the cul-de-sac for Dante to play fetch. Not that he can actually retrieve anything, being dead, so I have to brave the slippery pavements to go and get them while he barks with excitement.
At some point my twin sisters will decorate my wheelchair with tinsel. Me and Dad set the table, then it’s Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings, silly hats, and crackers with terrible jokes. There’s barely room round the table for everyone but we’ll squeeze in. After dinner, we play quizzes. I win most of them because if Ollie doesn’t know the answer, chances are Heather or Audrey will. Mum and aunt Chrissie put on the Strictly special. Then it’s Christmas movies until the kids fall asleep and get carried to bed.
I’ll say I’m done in and head off to bed myself, but really, I stay up late with the dead. Audrey likes all those classic Christmas songs from the thirties and forties, I guess because that’s what she used to listen to when she was alive. I’ll stream some for her on Spotify and she and Heather will put their differences aside and slow dance the prickliest slow dance ever, and then we’ll chat deep into the night about Christmases past.
Secretly, I’m thinking on Christmases future. Maybe one day I won’t have to hide that I can see ghosts. I’ll give them a seat at the table, have proper gifts for them wrapped under the tree, help them feel a part of a family Christmas again. I don’t reckon that will ever happen, I can’t tell my folks what I can do and I can’t risk other, less friendly dead, finding out about me. I just can’t.
If I’m being honest all I want for Christmas is to know I’m not alone, that somewhere out there is another seer like me. Mariah, if you’re listening, that’s on my wish list for next year, yeah?
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read this book, or are you planning to? Do you love ghost stories? I’d love to chat in the comments!
Speak very soon,