Ghosts, and ghoulies, and everything in between.
When I was a freshman in college, my grandfather died. This was my dad’s dad, and the only Grandpa I had ever known. My mom’s dad, Tatay, died when I was two, and had lived in the Philippines. I never met him.
I took it pretty hard when Grandpa died. It was the first real death I’d ever had in my life.
He died just before Halloween, which meant that he’d barely been gone by the time Christmas came along. You know what’s hard about the holidays? Missing someone.
There’s this tradition in my family when we open presents at Christmas — you open your gift, ball up your wrapping paper, wait a period of timet, then chuck your balled up wrapping paper at some unsuspecting family member.
Wrapping Paper Warfare.
These wrapping paper wars would get pretty intense. My father and one of my uncles would tend to gift each other tennis rackets year after year, so generally someone had a racket to whap paper around with. The youngest generation would stockpile balls and just throw them in giant bunches. Some of the male cousins would play sniper and wait for just the right moment to whack someone in the face. Occasionally, I’d do that too, but unfortunately, I have terrible aim.
There was just one cardinal rule of the wrapping paper wars: You do not throw at Grandma.
My Grandmother would always tell us to stop throwing paper around, that someone was going to have an eye taken out, that we all really ought to act our ages. The only person who was willing to throw paper at Grandma…
…was my Grandpa.
It’s the Christmas after my Grandpa died, and someone still starts the wrapping paper war. You can’t stop tradition, after all. We’re opening gifts, and the occasional wrapping paper ball is flying through the air when it happens.
Someone throws a ball at Grandma.
Everyone looks at me. The wrapping paper ball came from the direction of the couch I was sitting on, but I didn’t throw it. Two of my cousins are on the couch next to me, but I was talking to both of them at the time, and it didn’t come from them. The next likely culprit is my uncle — standing next to the couch with his just opened tennis racket — but he was busy opening his gift. He didn’t do it.
“It was your Grandpa,” my mom tells me later, when we’re talking about it later. “He came back for Christmas.”
I shake my head. “It had to have been someone there.” I was never a big believer in ghosts, or anything like that.
“You just told me it couldn’t have been anyone over there,” Mom reminds me.
“That’s true,” I ponder. “After all, who would dare throw a wrapping paper ball at Grandma??”
Fast Forward to today.
I’m in the storage room at my office. I get the supplies I need out, and close the door behind me. The frame of the door is a little weird, and you have to slam it to get it to close. Likewise, you have to really put some hip into it to get it open. But when I’m walking by the door a little while later, it’s open again.
“Did you go into the storage room?” I call to my coworker.
“No,” she answers. “Do you need something?”
I don’t answer her, and slam the door closed again.
A little while later, I’m walking by the door again, and it’s freaking open — AGAIN.
“Something is wrong with this door,” I call out, slamming it for the third time. “It won’t stay closed.”
“Oh no,” says my coworker. “That’s just Fred.”
Fred, the office Poltergeist.
It got me thinking. Do you believe? What makes you believe that people come back as ghosts, or ghouls, or spirits, or whatever other beings to be on this earth?
I might not 100% percent believe in ghosts. I might not believe that Fred is opening that door repeatedly at my office. But I do believe that my Grandpa came back to visit that Christmas.
…what exactly is it, then, that brings people to believe?