Paranormal podcaster and author Jim Harold has been collecting ghost stories for years and has compiled them in his True Ghost Stories book series. He joined Richard Syrett (Twitter) on Saturday's program for the holiday season to gift us with a series of Christmas ghost stories. "I think there's a certain thinning of the veil, as it were, around this time of the year," Harold suggested, noting when we bring out holiday decorations we also bring out memories of lost loved ones. Ghost stories remind us about our mortality and offer the hope we live on, he added.
Harold recounted the tale of Sarah from Seattle who spent Christmas with family at her aunt's old farmhouse in upstate New York. One night Sarah retired to bed early and lay there feeling uneasy, he reported. She heard a voice say, "Hey," several times, then hid under her covers. The next morning Sarah told her aunt about the experience and learned the house is haunted by a phantom boy, Harold reported. He recalled an account from Janet, also from Seattle, who on one Christmas Eve, tried to stay awake and listen for Santa's arrival. According to Harold, Janet heard a bell sound, went into the living room to check it out, and saw some something unexpected. "She thought she saw a little old man sitting on the couch with a bald head and white beard, and she ran right back to her room because she was so afraid," Harold explained, adding it may have been a dream, but Janet believes it really happened.
Harold presented a story about an older woman named Jerry from Chicago, Illinois, who was in her 90s, lived alone in a small apartment, and did not like Christmas. One night during the holiday season, when Jerry was feeling particularly Grinch-y, she heard scratching on her door. Jerry opened the door to find a beautiful, well-groomed Golden Retriever with a red collar and no identification tag, Harold recalled. The dog nudged its way into Jerry's apartment and spent the night with her. "It's almost like the dog was looking for her," he said, noting the companionship was exactly what she needed at the time. The next morning, Jerry took the dog outside, and it ran away, never to be seen again. Jerry believes the dog was more than a dog, perhaps a Christmas angel, and was sent to her that night, Harold disclosed.
In the latter half of the show, author Forest Maready discussed his book, "The Tribal Instinct: The Sacred Desire for People and Place." According to Maready, some feel disconnected because they have no tribe, no people, no place, and no sense of belonging. He shared how many who feel this way are trying to reconnect with their people and form communities that offer more meaning and purpose than neighborhood HOAs or anonymous internet forums.
Maready referred to the Welsh word Hiraeth which describes a feeling of homesickness for a home to which you cannot return. "When I read the definition of that word, I realized that was something that I had felt... I could tell that something had been taken from either what I once had or what I felt I should have had," he said. Maready realized the loss he felt was the sense of belonging that comes from having one's own people and place — or tribe. The concept of tribe is completely missing from people's modern lives, he lamented.
According to Maready, natural disasters allow people to connect with each other in a way that is tribal. All sorts of connections happen between people during natural disasters, which allow them to form community out of common suffering, he explained. Technology has robbed us of the potential of certain kinds of suffering that would have once created and sustained the bonds of a tribe, Maready added. He suggested modern life in subdivisions is dysfunctional in that so many people live within tight proximity to each other but will never know anything about their next-door neighbors. "Disasters in a strange way remind you of what you are missing," he said.