Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Ghost Story for Christmas

Image result for whistle and i'll come to you
Christmas is the most haunted holiday.

Yes, we have Halloween. But the ghosts and spirits we celebrate then are abstract and harmless.

Christmas is different. There's something about the season that reminds us of loved ones who are no longer with us. We think about the Christmases past spent with them. We feel their loss all over again, sometimes deeply. We wish them back, so they could be here now. We imagine them with us, at the dinner table, the holiday get-together, when a certain Christmas carol begins to play, or we gather around the tree to open presents.

If that's not haunted, I don't know what is.

The British must have known this, too. This may be why, back in 1971, BBC commissioned a television special under the name of "A Ghost Story for Christmas." It ran for eight consecutive Christmases, then disappeared. It came back In 2005, and has appeared sporadically since.

Mostly it presented classic ghost stories by M.R. James, but has also included a short story by Charles Dickens and two original screenplays.

I watched one last night. The first. "Whistle and I'll Come to You." In it, a shy and awkward academic in his middle age vacations at a strange seaside inn. During one of his walks he finds an old whistle and blows on it, waking up something that follows him along the shore, and back to the inn, and all the way into his room.

The show was in black and white. Sometimes the camera shook a little or the picture appeared to warp or stretch. Some of the dialog and pacing was a little odd. It all started to work on me, so that when the ghost first appeared -- a dark wraith that seemed to twist and turn just beyond the reach of the waves -- I actually felt chills.

So if you have a little time this Christmas, here's a link to "Whistle and I'll Come to You." And here's a link to all the others if you have a little more.

Merry Christmas. May you be surrounded by your loved ones. The living and the rest.

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