Haunted Christmas

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True stories of ghosts, poltergeists, hauntings and Santa sightings at the Christmas holiday

CHRISTMAS AND PARANORMAL phenomena have long had a close relationship. From the many miracles said to surround the birth of Jesus to the traditions of Dickens' ghosts in A Christmas Carol, it seems a time of year when the supernatural is possible. Following is a selection of stories of encounters with ghosts and other strange phenomena at Christmas time -- including sightings of Santa Claus himself! What do you believe?

CHRISTMAS CHURCH GHOST

I never really believed in supernatural stuff, but this incident made me believe otherwise. This was about nine years ago in Samoa. I was playing hide-and-seek with the other little kids from my mum's village of Satua, Western Samoa. I was quite young then, so I always followed my older cousin around. It was the middle of the night, and most of the kids were used to hiding anywhere in the dark. I wasn't used to it as I was only there for the Christmas holidays. I actually live in Australia.

Anyway, we all went to hide. Since we were all hiding in the graveyard, we all found our way around in the light that the church cast onto the graveyard. We all hid in the shadows and waited for the boy. We could all hear the boy coming, so we kept quiet. The boy was pretty loud, so we watched what he was making a fuss about. He had walked into the church as he thought that his brother was hiding there.

As he walked into the church, he later told us, he saw a boy standing right at the front of the altar. He didn't know if it was his brother because the boy's back was turned. He ran up and tapped this boy on the shoulder. As soon as he did this, the strange boy disappeared! Our friend fainted!

We went home to tell his parents and we returned with the boy's parents to find him still lying there, dead still.

The parents took the boy home and we never played in the graveyard at night again. We later found out that the boy's brother had been at home the whole time and he hadn't been to the church at all! What really scared us was that the boy who fainted has been ill since that night and he still hasn't recovered to this day. Whoever it was in the church must have been pretty mad that we kids had disturbed him. -- Paulina T.

Next page: The Christmas Visitor

THE CHRISTMAS VISITOR

I had an unusual visitor on Christmas Day, 2008 and I'm pretty sure it wasn't Santa Claus passing by my house in Bloomington, Indiana. The day started in typical fashion with the opening of gifts around the Christmas tree. I served an early Christmas dinner for family and friends, and everybody departed by 5 p.m., except my sister and brother-in-law who live with me. They were sleeping in a bedroom at the end of the hall with the door open.

I went into my bedroom with my dog, Toby and shut the door securely. Toby curled up on the foot of my bed to sleep, like he always does. It was chilly, so I pulled the blankets and comforter up around my head and curled up to nap for an hour.

I was just dozing off when I heard the latch on my bedroom door open. I waited several seconds for my sister or brother-in-law to ask me whatever they came to say, but there was no other sound. It was almost 7 p.m., so my bedroom was pitch black. I had left lights on in the kitchen and the bathroom, and there were lots of Christmas lights in the living room, so the hallway would have been well lit. I would be able to see whoever was at the door just by lifting my head.

I pushed the blankets down and lifted my head from the pillow, but just as I would have been able to see who was in the doorway, an extremely bright light hit me right in the eyes. I shielded my eyes and yelled, "Turn out that @#%$ light!

You're blinding me!" The light immediately disappeared and I heard the bedroom door latch closed. My bedside light is a touch lamp, so I tapped it on and looked around the bedroom. There was no one in the bedroom except me and Toby. Toby jumped off the bed and went to the door without showing any signs of alarm.

At first I wasn't frightened because Toby is a Dutch shepherd -- well trained to be an excellent watchdog and proven personal protection dog.

Since Toby was already up, I decided to go let him outside and see what Sis or brother-in-law needed. When I went into the hallway, I could see both of them still in bed. I took Toby to the living room to let him outside, and there was nobody there either.

So who opened my bedroom door and turned a spotlight on my face?

Ordinarily, I'm not a skittish person, and strange noises or lights wouldn't alarm me, but this situation was just too eerie, and the light had made my skin crawl. Let me add that the latch on my bedroom door is broken in such a way that the inside door handle must be jiggled for the latch to pop out and engage. It makes a very distinctive sound that I'm used to listening for, because if it doesn't latch, the door swings open. I am absolutely positive that the door was latched closed when I got into bed, just as I'm certain it was the door latch I heard during the incident.

When I left the bedroom, the door was latched closed again. I couldn't understand how my sister or brother-in-law could have come into my room and then returned to their own bed and crawled under the covers in the few seconds it took me to reach the hallway, but I figured it had to be one of them, since Toby always barks and growls at everybody and everything he doesn't immediately recognize.

When brother-in-law got up to get ready for work that night, I asked him what he wanted earlier in the evening when he opened my door. He looked puzzled and said, "I never got up and I certainly never opened your door. I slept soundly the whole time I was in bed." Okay... I then asked Sis, "Did you want something earlier this evening when you opened my door?" She also looked puzzled and said, "I dozed off and on, but I never got out of bed and I never saw or heard anything in the hallway." She leaves their bedroom door open at all times and she faces the hallway so she can see whoever is coming or going throughout the house.

So who was my special Christmas visitor and how did they get in and out so quickly? Like most people, the thoughts of loved ones are always close at hand during the holiday season.

When I first went to lie down, I was thinking how happy I was that my small family had enjoyed a pleasant Christmas, but it would have been so much better if my mother and brother had still been alive to share it with us. I would like to think it was my brother's spirit stopping by to say "Merry Christmas. I still think of you, too."

I haven't been able to debunk this strange event or find any kind of rational explanation. I'm half afraid that my heart stopped during my sleep and the light I saw was the bright light people report after near-death experiences. Leave it to me to see the Stairway to Heaven and ruin my chance at eternal paradise by saying "Turn out that #$%@ light!" I've made a mental note that if I ever see another bright light to clean up my language... just in case. -- Scarlet Dragon

Next page: Christmas Ghost's Caress

CHRISTMAS GHOST'S CARESS

It was Christmas time of 1995 or '96 at my aunt's house on a reservation in North Dakota. Some of my family was in the living room watching television, the kids were playing in the rooms or sleeping, and my uncle, aunt and I were sitting at the table putting a puzzle together. My cousin, who worked at a casino, would come home around midnight or 1 a.m.

This night, as she pulled up and was walking toward the house, she looked in the window and saw me sitting at the table, my uncle sitting across from me and someone standing to the left of me and someone standing in the corner, so she continued to walk in the house thinking nothing of it.

When she got in she said her hellos, put her stuff away and came and joined us at the table.

As we were sitting there talking, she looked at me and asked who was standing next to me a few minutes ago and who was in the corner. I told her no one and she said, "Yeah, there was someone standing next to you. It looked like your mom and she was playing with your hair." (I have long hair, which I used to wear down all the time.) She said this person was running her hand on my hair, like a mother does to a child.

It kinda freaked me out, being I was probably only 12 or 13 at the time. My cousin swears up and down that someone was standing over me rubbing my head and watching me put the puzzle together with my aunt and uncle, and that there was another person standing behind this person. We got around to thinking it was probably her mom she saw. (She passed away on her birthday a week before Christmas back in 1992.)

In my family we consider our aunts and uncles to be just like our moms and dads. After thinking that it could have been her, it didn't scare me so much. However, we couldn't figure out who the person was standing in the corner. And always around Christmas time something strange always happens... and we just think it's her visiting us.

-- V. Page

Next page: Poltergeist: It Started One Christmas

POLTERGEIST: IT STARTED ONE CHRISTMAS

My parents and I lived in a small home that was around 90 years old. It was in a small town called Bluffton in northeast Indiana. The year would have been 1996. We lived there from the time I was seven years old to the time I was 19. From the very day that we moved in, I felt that I was not alone. At night I would lie in bed with the intense feeling that I was being watched.

One year around Christmas time, I was having a friend spend the night. The heat had just shut off briefly and she and I were sitting in the living room watching television when the temperature dropped substantially. As I rose to turn up the heat, the Christmas tree began to shake violently. Ornaments were falling off right and left and she and I were terrified! We ran upstairs and lay down on my bed. My white cat curled up with us and my door was open slightly. When I gazed out at the dark hallway, I was horrified to see a tall white figure run down the hall. I turned to my friend and she acknowledged that she had seen the exact same thing. She never spent the night ever again.

Years passed and things were uneventful. I became severely ill with a chronic illness and was frequently hospitalized. That's when things began again. After coming near death twice, I began to be able to sense things that no one else could.

I once again felt that nagging sensation of being watched. I ignored it this time and the illness went into remission. Once again the activity, if you could call it that, stopped.

When I was 18, I began to experience things like never before. Upon the death of my beloved grandfather, I had become preoccupied with death and frequently visited cemeteries.

That's when I noticed an increase in activity. It started out with the voices. It was like a television had been turned on and there was a flurry of voices coming from downstairs or, even more frightening, outside my room. My parents were always asleep when this would happen and their room was right next to mine with a vent, so I could hear my parents sleeping next door. I would get up and check all the rooms, but there was no TV on, nothing to account for the voices. I was getting more and more scared as the voices started happening every night. Then that's when I started seeing shadow figures.

They varied in size, but they were always human-shaped, except for once. One night I was walking out of my room with my cat in my arms when she began to growl ferociously. She never does this. She's normally an extremely docile cat, and I was shocked to see her acting so. That's when I looked down the hall and saw a shadow the size of a large dog run down the hall quickly. We don't own a dog. We had owned one before I became ill, but were forced to give it away due to the fact that we could no longer provide it with the proper care that it deserved. My cat growled and growled until the shadow disappeared.

For all the other times that I saw shadow figures, they never took the form of a dog again. From that point on, the shadow figures were strictly human-shaped, some tall, some child-sized, but they frightened me to death. I would lie in my bed at night, tortured by the fear that I was going insane because no one else was experiencing this. When I confessed my experiences to my parents, they took me to a psychiatrist who could find nothing wrong with me. I continued seeing the shadow figures up until the last few months that we lived there.

As the months went on, I began feeling a dark aura spreading around the place. It was a heaviness, an uncomfortable feeling that I could never quite shake. Sometimes I would get frustrated with whatever was there. I would leave a room and would turn off the light.

The light switch would make an audible click every time someone turned it on or off. Each time I would shut it off the click would echo and I would turn around and the light would be back on. Finally, I said in an annoyed voice, "Quit playing games. Could you shut the light off, please?" And sure enough, right before my eyes, the light shut off.

One time I shut off the light in my bedroom before I left the house, and when my parents and I came home my dad said to me, "What did I tell you about leaving your light on?" And I replied, shocked, "But I shut it off when I left." He had nothing to say to that. Another time I was lying in bed when I heard the audible noise of something sitting down in my desk chair. Sure enough, when I sat up, there was a visible imprint in the center of the chair where someone would be sitting. Things would get so bad sometimes that I would be forced to sleep in my parents' bedroom, like I was child.

In August, 2008, we moved to a new house far away from the old house. I have not experienced anything abnormal here and the aura is much lighter. Perhaps it was my dabbling in the paranormal (I had tried communicating with spirits, had frequented cemeteries and tried to provoke ghosts) that had caused all the grief in that house. But one night I went back there to get some of my things, and as I was leaving I saw a dark figure run across the yard. I drove away and never looked back. -- Caitlin Williams

Next page: Santa Sightings!

There are many full-grown, mature, logical adults who will swear to you that as children they actually saw Santa Claus in their homes at night. Here are just a few of those stories.

SANTA STUFFS THE STOCKINGS

When I was nine years old (I am 30 now), I could not get too sleep on Christmas Eve because I was excited about presents and wondered if my parents had anything to do with the gifts that I received from Santa the year before.

That night it was hot because the heater was on (I lived in Texas), so I got thirsty. Also, I was wanting to spy. I got out of bed and cracked open my door to make sure no one was out in the living room, so that way I could get something to drink.

When I opened the door, I saw someone bent over, then he stood up. It was Santa Claus, dressed in the red and white get-up! Something strange was that I could see the Christmas lights from the tree shining through him. He was taking the stockings down off the mantel and placing them on the coffee table. When he started to turn around to put the next stocking on the table, I closed the door and jumped into bed.

The next morning I woke up and told my sister what I had seen. I told her where he had put the stockings. When we went into the living room, the stockings were where I said he had put them. We both turned and looked at each other and froze for a moment.

From then on, I have told everyone that I believe in Santa! -- Misty G.

SANTA AND AN ELF

It happened near Seattle, Washington on Christmas Eve 1957 or '58. My mom was at the kitchen window when she yelled for my sister and me (ages around 5 and 7) to come look. There was Santa and an elf carrying a big brown bag, walking down the middle of the street.

My dad went running out the door to see if Santa would come say Merry Christmas to us kids... but Santa, the elf and the big brown bag had vanished! -- SkittySKat

SANTA AT THE BEDROOM DOOR

It was 1961 on Christmas Eve. We were living in Boardman, Ohio. My bedroom was at the end of the house. I went to sleep on Christmas Eve. I don't know what time it was, but I know it was very late when I suddenly woke up. I was staring at my bedroom door, which was cater-corner from my bed. The door slowly opened, and I squinted my eyes shut just a bit because I didn't want my mother or father to catch me up in the middle of the night. There was a nightlight in the hallway and one behind the dresser in my room, so there was some light.

I was so astonished, however, at who opened the bedroom door. I found myself looking at a man dressed in a red suit. He had white trim around his waist, like fur, a long white beard, and was wearing a Santa hat. He had red pants and black boots. If I close my eyes, I can still see Santa standing in my door, it made such an impression on me.

He stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, then closed the door. I pulled the blankets over my head for a while - I was so scared!

Finally, I looked out, but no one was there. The next day, I asked my mother if she or my father had been out of bed the previous night. My mother said no; in fact, my sister was only four months old, and my mother said she had slept through the night for the first time, and neither of my parents had gotten up, they were tired and they both slept.

So I don't know who or what looked in my bedroom that night. I told my mother I saw Santa, and she got really mad at me and told me that I did not. But I know what I saw... it was Santa Claus. And I swear this story did happen! I know I wasn't dreaming. -- Karrie K.