Flashback To A Tree In The Field

Republished for Fandango’s Flashback Friday

Last year I was sticking to tradition and reading a lot of ghost stories – telling ghost stories at some point when  our family gets together for is a time honored tradition

Well last year Christmas gatherings didn’t happen but my need to hear and tell ghostly tales did so I wrote

The Tree In The Field

December 17, 2020

This is a very short story about a man named Leo and his best friend Marvin  and what happened to them on  Christmas Eve, four years ago when they were cutting across the field to the Sollie Farm for the Sollie’s annual Christmas Party.

They could have driven over, but they had spent a few hours at Marvin’s house drinking Marvin’s homemade beer and then they had gone to Leo’s and smoked Leo’s homegrown- um,  tobacco. Sure, we can just go ahead and call it Tobacco.

Anyway. They were in no shape to drive  and instead of asking one of their many friends who were headed over to the Sollie’s for a ride,  they decided to walk it and halfway across the snow covered field  they came across an eight foot tall, fully decorated Christmas tree.

It was decorated with delicate glass ornaments of all sorts of shapes and sizes-  there were bells and trees, snowflakes and birds and they all twinkled like stars in the sky.

The tree  was lit with white and silver candles that were glowing, but the flames pulsing at the tops and around the candles weren’t really yellow or white, they were a light icy shade of blue.

” Did you put that up? ” Marvin asked Leo.

” No. Man. Really? Me? “Leo laughed.

” How about your Mom, could she have put that up? ”

” My Mom still uses the same aluminum tree her Great Aunt gave her. She wouldn’t know how to decorate a real tree. She probbly couldn’t even decorate a fake one with the decorations already stuck to them.

” Yeah. Her tree is pretty damn ugly. Plus it smells funny. ”

” Drop dead. ” Leo told Marvin.

They walked up to the tree, they got close to the tree. Marvin reached out with one gloved finger and poked at one of the ornaments. ” It’s made from ice. Check it out.”

Leo put out his hand and then he said,  ” My  Grandma used to tell me this story about these cannibal witches that used to set up these campfires at the side of the road and -”

” What, they ate you? ”

” That’s what cannibals do, dimwit. Anyway. These travelers used to tell each other never to leave the road and never go near the campfire, especially when the flames started to turn blue  no matter how cold and lost you were, or the  witches would get you. That was how you knew they were close. The fire froze and turned blue.

They watched the blue flames on top of candles pop and hiss and spark. They couldn’t have looked away if they wanted to, let alone run for it.

Leo asked Marvin, ” we’re screwed aren’t we? ”

Marvin put his hand to the back of his neck because the hairs on it were standing up and he was so cold, colder then he ever had been in his life.

” Pretty much. ” he said. ” Pretty much.”

Eight Days and Counting

RDP Friday: Hopeful

*12 Days of Christmas Memories and Adventures

Photographer Unknown

Some of my relatives were known as good magicians, good enough to have had their own acts back in the Vaudeville days.

A sizable number of my family members are gifted musicians and artists and a few writers ( ahem ), but the one who out shone us all was my Grandfather’s sister- my Aunt Irene.

Was she well known for being able to whistle through her teeth? Playing the Banjo? Landing a husband  younger then herself ( well, to be frank most of the women in my Mom’s family as well as my Dad’s were older then their husbands- my Mom included. It’s  a thing I guess.)


She was famous for her Christmas dinners and her Bourbon Balls.

On this particular Christmas Eve in 1972 when I was around seven years old, if you had walked into the conversation between my relatives as they discussed the upcoming Christmas festivities you’d think all we had to eat were Bourbon Balls and sugar cookies and that  the majority of us were out of our minds with happiness over the thought.

So back on Christmas Eve in  ’72, I was sitting in the kitchen watching my Aunt putting her last minute touches on  her latest fabulous dinner  when at the last minute she  decided to whip up more Bourbon Balls.

I watched her add the bourbon ( which one year I decided tasted the way cat pee smelled and I haven’t touched the stuff since ). Then someone called to her from the dining room ( it was my Aunt Sharon my Dad’s sister ) and as soon as Aunt Irene left the room one of my Dad’s cousins scooted in an poured in a few more shots.

When she got back into the kitchen I watched my Dad, his sister, my Grandfather and my Dad’s cousins distracting my Aunt Irene  and as they did, someone poured some bourbon into the mix.

As my Aunt started to roll the bourbon balls I asked her, ‘if the Bourbon Balls would catch on fire in the oven if there was too much cat pee in the cookie mix.’

Aunt Irene had her back to me at this point because she was about to pop the cookie sheet into the oven. My Dad though was standing behind me and when he was sure Aunt Irene couldn’t see us, he sort of lifted my chair up off the ground and gave it a little thump to shut me up. Ha. He should have known better.

” Don’t be silly, of course not ” he said a little loud, probably to drown out the sound of  my chair landing on the floor.

” And quit calling Bourbon cat pee. ” my Grandfather said, ” show some respect. ”

” To the cat pee?” I asked as I tried to scoot my chair away from my Dad.

” To the Bourbon Miss Smarty Pants ” Grandpa said, ” to the Bourbon.” Then he popped a raw Bourbon ball into his mouth and smiled.

That year my Aunt Irene’s Bourbon Balls went down in history and the many cooks whose  hands there in  the cookie dough and then later on the cookie tray dined on that story- literally until their dying days.

My Aunt Irene- the most famous member of my family. I am hopeful that one day I will be well known for something or be part of a story as great as this one.


Winter Windows

Like a lot of people I have a Christmas ‘ to do ‘ list, here’s how I am doing:

I haven’t done much Christmas shopping


I have listened to  a lot of Christmas music

I’ve read some great ghost stories and I’ve done a lot of holiday stories of my own

so I guess I can say

So far, so good!