One Christmas when I was a little girl, I asked my Grandfather why we always told Ghost stories after Christmas dinner. I asked whose idea it was to light the fire, turn down the lights and talk about cemeteries and bodies buried in basements and bones in hatboxes on dusty shelves in attics.
I said it was weird how we told those stories every year at Christmas.
We were sitting in the living room, the fire was roaring, the treats were placed on tables around the dark living room and the tree lights weren’t on yet.
The rest of the family were in the dining room finishing desert.
We took our seats under a painting of my Great-Great Grandmother.
He looked at me. ” I see your point. “
I wasn’t sure what my point was at that moment but before I could consider it further Grandfather said, ” I think it’s time we talked about something else.
For a few seconds I thought he meant we’d tell stories about Santa Claus or Orphans with big round eyes and they would be wearing mittens that didn’t match. The poor little children would be out in the cold dark night with falling snow singing Christmas Carols for pennies and cookies- and sadly enough receiving neither.
I think it’s time for us to talk about Felicia Lindall.”
” Who was she?” I asked.
” She is, ” my Grandfather said ” the horror in every single story we tell at Christmas.”
” How did she get into the stories? “
” Your Great Great Grandmother buried her alive.”
I looked up at the portrait and back at my Grandfather.
” You’re kidding. ” I said hoping that he was NOT kidding.”
” I wouldn’t kid about something like that.”
” How come Noire Marie buried that woman alive?”
Grandfather sat back and said, ” Felicia killed her cat.”
” Oh. So it was like Justifiable Homicide.”
” She buried her alive.” I pointed out.
” Have you not heard a word I said?” Grandmother buried her alive, she walks into every story we tell. It’s only homicide if there was a murder. As far as I know Felicia is still alive.”
Grandfather shook his head. ” The thing of it is Noire Marie was a soft touch so she found a way to let Felicia out of her grave. But only for one night.”
I looked into the fire, inhaled the smells of Christmas dinner, the tree and the chill in the air that was creeping from the shadows.
” Oh wow. She’s still down there. Alive.”
” Until we tell our stories- and then for a little while on Christmas Felicia gets to walk the Earth.”
” Sounds fair to me. Can I have a cookies- before everyone else gets out here?”
Grandfather pinched my cheek and tweaked my nose.
” Of course. And then we’ll let evil old Felicia Lindall out of her grave for a spell.”
I got it now. “And when we’re done, back in she goes. Hmmm. I think I’m going to like telling ghost stories lots more now. Hey. Maybe I’ll even write them. Give Felicia some extra time out of her moldy old grave.”
” So. Tonight you tell a ghost story Anita Marie. “
I was 11 the first year I let Felicia The Cat killer out of her grave at Christmas.
And I’ve been doing it ever since.