In an atmosphere of jollity and good cheer at a family Christmas dinner, an unexpected event suddenly occurred that was to change people’s lives.
By Lasha Darkmoon
AN UNFORGETTABLE CHRISTMAS
“Psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was interested in the concept of poltergeists and the occult in general. Jung believed that a female cousin’s trance states were responsible for a dining table splitting in two and his later discovery of a broken bread knife. Jung also believed that when a bookcase gave an explosive cracking sound during a meeting with Sigmund Freud in 1909, he correctly predicted there would be a second sound, speculating that such phenomena were caused by ‘exteriorization’ of his subconscious mind. Freud disagreed, and concluded there was some natural cause.”
— Based on material found in Colin Wilson’s Poltergeist: A Classic Study in Destructive Hauntings (2010) and Colin Wilson’s C.G.Jung: Lord of the Underworld (2019).
The story related below was published as a ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the Christmas edition of my local newspaper a few years ago. It was submitted under a pen name. Surprising events like these, involving apparitions and inexplicable phenomena that defy the laws of nature, are not uncommon in the annals of history. However, the reaction of most people to events like these is one of extreme scepticism, if not of outright hostility. “Things like this just don’t happen,” I’ve been told after relating this story to others. “I’m sorry, but you’re either seriously deluded or else you’re a liar!”
Let readers judge for themselves. Here is the letter:
A curious event occurred last Christmas in our family circle which I should like to share with your readers.
It began in fact two years ago, on Christmas Day, as we sat round the dinner table musing on past times and on the dear friends and relations who had made their final exits into the other world.
Outside, in the snow-blanketed village, we could hear the distant strains of carol singers singing my all-time favourite Christina Rossetti poem set to carol music by Gustave Holst, In the Bleak Midwinter.
As often happens on these occasions, the conversation had drifted into a sombre discussion of the life after death, a topic most unsuitable for a jolly Christmas dinner. In an attempt to inject a note of gaiety into the proceedings, my father proposed a toast, and promised that when he died he would somehow get in touch with us.
There was a rock-crystal ashtray on my father’s knee in which a fat Cuban cigar, unlit, lay ready for lighting up later, after the trays of cranberry pies and mulled wine had been served and everyone was now disposed to the serious business of relaxing.
“You see this ashtray?” my father said, sipping his favourite Armenian brandy, a vintage Ararat matured in an oak cask. “Well, when I die I’ll come back and smash it. Just to prove I’ve finally given up smoking!”
We laughed, and the matter was soon forgotten as the plum pudding was carried in, all lit up in its dish of blazing brandy.
My father died within a month of making that last joke. Never again would he enjoy the traditional Christmas banquet (still popular in remote country houses) of roast goose served with sage and onion dressing, or a rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding, or hot mince pies served on a gleaming silver tray with cinnamon-scented wines.
It had been noted at the time of his passing that my father’s Swiss watch, an antique Audemars Piguet, had stopped at the moment of his death, as many old watches tend to do on the demise of their owners.
This watch had been placed on the mantelpiece inside the rock-crystal ashtray, and there it had lain as a memento for the past year, perpetually frozen at 12.44.
It was last Christmas, then, a full year after my father’s death, that we all got together again.
It was late evening and twelve of us were sitting round the fire roasting chestnuts and drinking sherry.
My mother rose to fetch the ashtray from the mantelpiece. As she crossed the room there was a high-pitched vibration, like the sound of a tuning fork, and the rock-crystal ashtray suddenly cracked into two symmetrical halves with a loud PING.
Had matters stopped there, we should doubtless have found some plausible explanation for the splitting ashtray. But what happened next was so bizarre that I doubt if any rational explanation can be found for it.
Rooted to the spot, my mother was staring fixedly—not at the ashtray but at the watch that lay cradled within the ashtray’s newly-formed fissure.
The second-hand of the watch jerked into spasmodic life and was racing round the watch-face.
My mother wordlessly held the watch out for us to see. The revolution of the second hand was unmistakable. It was moving round, quite definitely, at several times its ordinary speed, as if being accelerated by some hidden power source.
When the watch finally hiccupped to a halt at 12.50 (six minutes on the watch-face) we couldn’t help noting that in actual fact only a minute had elapsed.
During this minute out of time I personally neither saw nor sensed anything unusual, apart from the strange behaviour of the watch.
But my mother, my aunt Elinor, and a nine-year-old niece all claim to have seen my father.
Standing in front of the fire, his dark eyes agleam, he was smoking a long cigar from which golden-yellow streamers of smoke danced like ribbons of sunlight.
This experience has transformed our lives.
My mother looks like a young girl nowadays, quite radiant, as if she had tasted the honeydew of paradise.