Ghosts of Christmas Past

Long before Jack Skellington started exploring the boundaries between Christmas and Halloween in The Nightmare Before Christmas, ghosts have had a way of haunting Yuletide festivities. Of course Charles Dickens did a lot to make that association with the ghosts of A Christmas Carol. However, the combination of long, cold nights with the high emotions of the season actually make ghosts feel very natural this time of year.

As we head into Christmas week, I thought I’d share this poem I wrote a few years ago. It was first published on the website of Private, an international magazine of photographs published in France.

    Ghosts of Christmas Past

    As the year draws to its end, and
    Darkness is reluctant to release the
    World, I am pleasantly haunted by
    Glowing specters of Christmases past.

    I remember the tractor and train
    I could climb aboard and ride.
    I remember the tree glowing brightly
    and the smells of Christmas dinner.

    More than those, I remember Dad
    Sharing his time with me, with
    Those toys. I remember the music
    Love and laughter that filled the house.

    Years later, I find that I’m the dad.
    Though my own father and the toys and
    Time we shared are long gone, the music
    Love and laughter are still there.

    Only the voices have changed.

On one hand, this poem is a straightforward look at how I found myself growing up and becoming a dad. However, I see at least two other layers to it. One idea is that ghosts are not literal physical manifestations of those who have gone before, but they’re manifestations of emotional energy. In that sense, perhaps the ghosts of this poem are real. Also, while I don’t believe in literal reincarnation, this poem shows why the idea has appeal. There’s no question, life is cyclic and younger generations will often find themselves in situations similar to those their parents and grandparents faced.

Whether you’re celebrating with family, remembering lost love ones, or just doing your best to keep warm on a long winter’s night, I wish you the best of the season.