A Christmas Spirit

Father Christmas. Postcard a part of my personal collection.

Do you believe in Santa Claus? If not Santa Claus, how about some other Christmas spirit? Maybe a Father Christmas figure? Or possibly some other spirit that only makes its appearance during the Christmas season.

Some would laugh and say yes, they saw Santa Claus at the local stores, having his picture taken.

Yet every year, there are reports from all over the world supposedly seeing the “real” Santa Claus. The majority of these reports come from the minds of young children, but not all reports of them do- some do come from adults who cannot explain what they witnessed.

A while back I received an email from Scott, a long-time follower of the blog who shared with me an experience that happened to him as a teenager. At first I was not sure what to make of the story he sent me. After a number of emails back and forth, and meeting with him, I’m convinced Scott saw something that night, but what he saw is something I could not answer.

To condense the first portion of Scott’s email, this happened in 1967 when he was fourteen years old. At the time of his story, he was living with his parents and two younger sisters in an old farmhouse in southern Somerset County on Christmas Eve.

This is his story:

“We returned home from church around nine that evening and my mother got us ready for bed. It took a while for my sisters to calm down and after helping my parents with getting out presents for my younger siblings I got ready for bed. I had discovered that Santa Claus was not real the year before when I discovered my parents putting gifts under the tree. While I knew where the gifts were really coming from, I played along, allowing my sisters to be surprised by the gifts on Christmas morning.

“Our bedrooms were on the second floor. My room was closest to the stairs, my parents were across the hall, and my sisters had the room next to mine. So for anyone to go downstairs, they had to pass my bedroom door.

“I went to bed and was almost instantly asleep. I’m not sure what awoke me, but I laid there staring at the ceiling wondering what caused me to awake. I laid there listening and I heard something in the hallway. As I listened, I heard it again and it dawned on me what I was hearing was somebody in the hallway. I shifted slightly to stare at the door and I could see a light coming under the door.

“I waited, as the light disappeared down the hallway towards the stairs. Thinking it was one of my sisters, I waited a couple of minutes, planning on letting her have the surprise of seeing the presents before I would round her up and send her back to bed. I finally decided to go get her.

“I opened the door and quietly made my way down the stairs. About halfway down the stairs, I noticed there was a lot of light coming out of the room where we had our Christmas tree set up. I reached the base of the stairs, turned and froze.

“In the other room, standing in front of the Christmas tree was a small figure. It was not one of my sisters, but something else. The figure was roughly three feet tall, had a long, white beard, and was dressed in a brown, tattered, hooded coat. Next to him sat an open bag and the bright light that filled the house was coming out of the open bag.

“The figure seemed to be fascinated with the ornaments on the tree, touching and examining a number of them. It finally turned and looked into the bag, searching for something. Finally it removed a small wooden star from the bag and turned and placed it on the tree.

“I’m not sure if I moved or made a noise, but the figure snapped around and stared at me. Other than being short, it looked like a normal person. He slowly raised his hand to his mouth and placed his finger to its lips. It smiled as it went “Shhh” before it vanished. It didn’t run or move. It was just gone and with it, so was the light and darkness refilled the house. 

“I shot up the steps, jumped into my bed and hid under the covers, afraid that this thing was in my room, watching me. I never went back to sleep that night. Every little noise made me think it was back.

When my sisters got out of bed, I got out of bed and went downstairs with them. As they explored the presents under the tree, I searched for the ornament I saw the being place on the tree. It was there. Hidden among the branches of the tree was a wooden star, It was right where I saw the being place it and it was one that I had never seen before.

“Later that day, I told my parents about what I had seen and they were convinced I had imagined the whole thing or it was only a dream. At some point after I told them this, the ornament disappeared from the tree. I tried asking what had happened to it and they both denied having touched the ornament, insisting that it was all a dream and there was never a wooden star on the tree. Years later I brought up the memory to my parents and both claimed they didn’t have any clue what I was talking about. I never experienced anything like this again, but the memory has never left me and is still as fresh in my mind as it was years ago.

“Did I see Santa Claus that night? Or was it something else? We moved out of the house the following year and I have not gone back.

In our emails, the one question I asked Scott was in regards to his fear after the being vanished. Why was he afraid? Had he been afraid before? Was there some element to this figure that caused his fear? His reply: “When I first saw the being, I was not afraid of it. I was not sure what it was or why it was in our house, but I felt curious to see what it was doing. I wanted to know why it had an interest in our Christmas tree. But when it vanished, the spell was broken and I realized I saw something I should not have seen. The fear was “was it coming back for me now that I saw it?” If I closed my eyes would it be back?”

I also asked if the tree was real and if it was, did he think the being was a spirit connected with the particular tree. Scott’s response was: “I never thought of that. We always got a real tree. My father would go into the mountains and cut down a tree each year. I can’t say there was a connection between the being and the tree. To be honest, I never thought about it.”

The question remains, what did Scott see that Christmas Eve in the mountains of southern Somerset County? Did Scott experience a Christmas spirit? Father Christmas? Santa Claus? Was it some other ghost or spirit? Was it in some way connected to the tree brought in from the mountains? Or, as his parents suggested, was it all in his imagination?

Those questions may never fully be answered.


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