The Ghosts of Christmases Past

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Last Christmas Day (2012) was odd. It was the first year I wasn’t really doing anything—my (new) husband had to work, so he wasn’t home, and my housemate didn’t want to exchange gifts, choosing instead to go to the movies that afternoon. I spent my Christmas Day watching the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, going to see Hitchcock, then coming home and watching Psycho. It was just a strange day—stuff I wasn’t used to.

I did wake up to a few gifts to open; my sister, Missie, who lives in Texas, had sent a box. All the gifts were perfectly me—a Bath & Body Works “Caribbean Escape—Cocktails & Coconuts” candle (which smelled like a big Mai Tai), a really cute retro-looking wool hat from the GAP—and something that I never would have expected.

A music box that looked like a chalet…

Chalet Music Box

…like my father’s house. He’d built our house himself and was always proud of its chalet-inspired look. The look of the music box brought back all those Christmases opening up gifts under the 23-foot (yes, we were doing Cathedrals back in the 1970s before the rest of the country had even heard of them) tree, sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Christmas Day.

Dad's House

When I opened up the box, I was delighted to hear my favorite song from childhood—“Music Box Dancer”—the only song I ever truly learned to play on the piano; also, the tune that played inside a music box my mother had given me when I was 15 (check out the brief video I shot last year below).

Those great Christmases didn’t last forever; after Mom died, things just spiraled downhill into anger and sadness until after twenty years of it we’d all had enough. The little music box, which was one of the last birthday gifts I got from my Mom before she passed away, was stolen in 1999.

I don’t miss that house, and I certainly don’t miss the emotionally-charged unpredictable Holidays we spent in it post Mom’s passing. Still, it was nice to get this very perfect reminder of that past. It somehow washed all the unpleasant memories in a happier shade of sepia, and it made my strange Christmas Day magical instead.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on December 25, 2013, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Awwww 🙁 What a strange, bittersweet day. My Christmas this year was an odd one, sort of similar to yours. I was just kind of “meh” about it this year.

    I hope your Christmas this year was wonderful and washes away all those memories of the not so great ones!

    • Thanks, Terri! I can’t say I’ve ever actually had a “bad” Christmas (since childhood, anyway). I just seem to have the occasional odd one. but change plays into that — I think that when we deviate from whatever our tradition is, we’re not used to it. We went to the movies again this year — I’m kinda likin’ that now. Never thought I would, but I really enjoyed it this year.

      Anyway, I hope you have a very awesome New Year!!

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