Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The ghosts of Christmas past ...


In Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve. The first one to make its appearance was that of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, who had died exactly seven years earlier. In quick succession, Marley’s ghost is followed by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The experience makes Scrooge a changed man, much to the delight of the family of his near-impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit.

I’ve long had a fascination with ghost stories, and have a number of related books on my bookshelf. In addition, I’ve also published three previous ghost stories on this website. Appropriately enough, they were written by someone else, which means that I have my very own “ghost writer”.

(The story that I published in 1995 for an insurance newsletter, which I titled “Ghosts and the insurance industry”, was entirely my own).

When we lived in Wisconsin, the kids and I participated in the YMCA Indian program. Twice a year, we went camping at the Phantom Lake YMCA camp, which is the second oldest YMCA camp in the country.

If you happen to be at the camp at 11:30 at night on September 2nd of each year, you can witness first hand how the camp got its name. If that’s not practical, you can read the full story below:

what’s that in the water, mom?

After a job change brought us to Illinois, I discovered that Chicago has more than its share of ghosts, and some of them continue to vote in local elections. If you’re looking for ghost tours in Chicago, there are LOTS of them. My favorite was the North Side tour led by Ursula Bielski, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

After moving to Flagstaff, I was delighted to discover that there are SEVEN haunted locations in downtown Flagstaff. So far, I haven’t taken the tour yet, but it’s definitely on my “to do” list.

Interestingly enough, even the village where we live (Kachina Village, just south of Flagstaff) also has an “other worldly” connection, a fact that is probably not known by the folks who started to move here from Phoenix in the 1960’s to get away from the heat in “the Valley”.

Flagstaff is surrounded by the six mountains of the San Francisco Peaks. Included in that group is Humphreys Peak, which is the tallest mountain in Arizona.

Humphreys Peak, and the San Francisco Peaks, are considered to be sacred and holy mountains to Native American tribes, including the Hopi, Zuni, Havasupai, and Navajo.

The Navajo consider the San Francisco Peaks to be sacred mountains of the west, and believe that they are held on earth by a sunbeam, which gives them their yellowish color.

The Hopi, who live east of the mountains, make frequent pilgrimages to them to leave items at sacred sites. They believe that mountains are home to the Kachinas, who are special beings that bring rain to the Hopi’s parched lands in the summer.

The San Francisco range was once part of a huge volcano that reached nearly 20,000 feet high. Somewhere between 400,000 and 1,000,000 years ago, the volcano blew itself up, leaving the peaks that line the edge of the blasted caldera.

Human beings didn’t inhabit this part of the world when the old volcano erupted, but if they had been, they would have seen something like this:

let’s watch Fantasia again

If you watch the entire 14 minutes and 47 seconds of this video, you’ll catch a glimpse of what the mountain range looks like today. However, if you’d like to climb Humphrey’s Peak without going through the sheer physical exertion, the link below will make it a lot easier for you:

blogging your way to the top

If you’re tired of reading ghost stories, and would like to get on with the rest of your Christmas shopping, I’ll leave you with one final thought:

“God bless us, everyone”.

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