The Ghosts of Christmas

If I had to rank the pinnacle moments of my Victorian life, they might look a bit like this:

1/2: My marriages and the birth of my son
3 (but really sort of edging into 2 territory): Drunkenly shouting “youze a fuckin’ tosser, that’s wot” at Charles Dickens as he left a pub on the Strand

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/Charles_Dickens_3.jpg

Pictured above: A fuckin’ tosser

But as much as I hate Charles Dickens, he did have one thing right—Christmas is full of ghosts.

In fact, Christmas outranks Halloween for sheer number of ghostly visitations.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Not only does our One World Government release a very special set of rules and dispensations for holiday visitation rights, making it as easy as possible for us to return home to our family and friends, but also alivelies are much more aware at the holidays of those they’ve lost, and those feelings are amplified by gatherings and collective memory. Taken together, even low-energy ghosts can manage an entry.

That’s the good news.

The bad news—I did warn you this site wouldn’t be all sunshine—the numbers are falling every year.

Now, let me be clear.  This isn’t a personal call for help. I’m ethnically Jewish and pragmatically athiest…I have never been, nor will I ever be, a bastion of Christmas. I didn’t particularly care for the holiday when I was alive, and, as my manifestation was very long in coming, I don’t have Victorian family or friends to visit now. This post isn’t really about me.

It’s not really about my husband, either. Although he’s crazy for Christmas, that’s primarily because he loves decorating. He actually celebrates Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Invicti Solis.

And honestly, this post isn’t really about my children. Mira visits her family sites on her walk-about in August, and Jeremy was too young at his passing to remember where he lived for any sort of pilgrimage. He’s also afraid of “ghosts”—the energy outlines he sees around the living—and prefers to remember his alively parents by giving himself whole-heartedly to his ghostly family.

So, really, this post is about you, and your loved and lost.

Even though I don’t feel particularly moved by the holiday, I feel moved to share with you the best possible practices for making your visitations happen. So, in no particular order, here’s how you can help us reach you:

1. Physically remember your loved ones. Put out an empty plate for us at the table, hang up our stockings, or incorporate us into your traditions. My mates Jacques, Ed, and Danny all swear that these sorts of gestures hold even more meaning than birthday remembrances.

2. Emotionally, or prayerfully, remember your loved ones. When you say grace, don’t forget to mention us, or when you raise a glass. Take time to sit and think ofus, the more collectively the better. And, if you can, do so with joy rather than with sadness, although we ghosts completely understand that difficulty—we miss you as much as you miss us.

3. Forget about the sodding presents. Forget about Starbucks cups, Reeses trees, being holier than your neighbour, having the best stuff, being the most demonstrative. If you’re celebrating Christmas, then at some point you were taught that the whole bloody thing is about a family coming together. Do that. Be a family coming together, and make room to welcome those you’ve lost.

4. Share stories with the next generation. Nothing is sadder than when a ghost finally has to admit that their family has gone on without them—that their children or grandchildren forgot to pass their memory on. Love your ancestors as much as you love your descendants, and make sure they have a chance to meet.

5. Celebrate with awareness.

6. Listen to the children around you. We have a much easier time reaching them, so take their moments seriously.

7. Write us a card or a letter—we can’t always read the words on the page, but they will clarify your intent, making it easier for us to feel your presence and vice versa. Likewise, sharing photographs, or leaving albums open, is helpful.

8. If you feel so moved, leave a general sign that we are welcome. This is particularly helpful for older ghosts who have become a bit lost in the evolution of family tradition. Recognised signs include things such as candles in the window, swept hearths or porches, or signs of the outdoors brought in—the tree will obviously work, but depending on where you are in the world, any other mindful piece of nature will suit.

And that’s about all of it, I should think.

Oh, except, do be gentle with yourself and your loved ones. If you don’t feel surrounded on this Christmas, hold out hope for the next. It isn’t always easy for us to reach you, even with intentions full-tilt, often because ghosts, when they first arrive, are just…exhausted. Dying is hard work. Give us time to rest and we’ll do our best to reach you.

Happy practising.

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November Catch Up

I’ll be back to regular sorts of posts in December–short essays on ghost and family goings on and such—but I thought I would take the first day of the month to share a few retroactive highlights from my time away from the blog. Because goodness gracious, November. Never the busiest month for me in life, it has certainly become so in death…
Here’s what I was up to, whilst away.

Fashion Week (November 11-15)

Because ghosts are not bound by the same physical rules as humans, we can do our fashion weeks in rather inaccessible locales. So, this year’s fashion week took place deep with the forests of Japan.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Shiratani_Unsui_Gorge_17.jpg

But with fabulous hair for accoutrement.

It was just about as beautiful as could possibly be, with fireflies lighting up the nighttime runways and gorgeous sunsets illuminating the afternoon. And Marc’s line —menswear inspired by campfires, charcoal, and gleaming driftwood—worked incredibly well with the backdrop, adding an extra level of magic to something already quite magical.

But behind all the beauty, of course, are schedules, reservations, rehearsals, bitch-fits, and last-minute problem solving, all of which went from about a 5 to a 10 on the Stress Scale this year. Reason being…this was our first fashion week as independent designers.

In every previous year, we’ve had AMMA dealing with the majority of the nitty-gritty on our behalf. Our first assistants, Danny and Fleur, also had coordinating staff meetings to help them solidify our schedules and appearances. This left Marc and I to just design, execute, and walk.

But this year…well, Marc had to not only design his set but book the space, coordinate the build, schedule the rehearsals, etc. Danny and Fleur had to be incredibly discerning about our interview selection, jettisoning some of the old and bringing in new, and they had to work more time for networking into an already packed schedule. And I had to put on my most confident swagger and go…talk to people. *shudder*

But we managed it all, the show went off well, and I was able to amicably part ways with one of my designers whose brand I’ve outgrown, promising to send him some fresh faces for consideration.

And in the end, at the award banquet, we made out like Junius-Smith bandits…no brag, *ahem.*

Marcus won the overall independent designer category with takes into account new shops opened, sales, brand originality, and design. The man is a sexy, design machine. Also, one of the recipients of Marc’s Rufius Award, named after his late artistic husband, received the award for best new line—Xavvy—and thanked Marc for his mentorship in the speech.

And Mira, our baby queen, won best print advert second year in a row modelling miniaturized Oscar de la Renta. In the shot, she has on a gorgeous red dress with cream under skirts, and she’s coming out of a forest cave and stepping over a puddle while she looks at the sky with this ‘are you quite finished’ expression. Hah! And her walk much improved this year, as well.

I was out of the running this year after winning the top modelling award in 2014, so I was able to just sit and cuddle J-bird and celebrate Marc and Mira.

Then the rest of the month was also about celebrating them, haha.

Marc’s B-Day (November 22)

One of the greatest pleasures of my marriage is having a husband who is truly the easiest person for whom to buy gifts. I mean…it’s extraordinary. He loves anything animal-related, cute and fierce animals both. He loves jewelry, like leather or gold cuffs, thick rings, adornments for his toga. He loves anything he can add to his favourite spaces in the house—kitchen, pool, bath, stables. He loves family-related gifts, anything to do with Roma, things that are fast, photography gizmos, clothing, wine, you name it. And no matter what you give him, it is like watching Christmas unfold before your very eyes.

Ugh, I love it.

And this year for his birthday (which we relocated from June), I got him the most perfect thing—a full afternoon with a falconer, meeting birds, wearing gauntlets, watching raptor predators swoop and dive, and making a new friend, as it turns out the falconer also dabbles in swordplay.

He literally almost cried when I told him what his birthday present was, and he’s been printing out pictures of falcons and pinning them up in his study ever since.

Husband achievement unlocked.

Mira’s Adoption Anniversary and Thanksgiving (November 26-28)

Marcus and I are neither of us American, but our host is, and so we sort of took to this holiday over the years out of proximity more than anything else. We all rather think it’s ridiculous as a celebration of anything even remotely historical, but it does do a good job bringing folks together for moments of warm gratitude, so when we started living part-time in Canada, we rolled it out as a novelty for our mates up there.

They loved it. Ed and Jacques fight us for hosting rights now, haha.

And then in 2013, our (now) daughter Mirabelle stood up on her chair and grandly announced that she had decided to accept our adoption invitation, injecting a whole new level of meaning into the holiday. She makes a toast every year now, baby mimosa in hand. It’s fabulous.

Alexander’s NaNoWriMo (November 1-30)

Of course the other momentary diversion from regular blog posts happened on account of Alex successfully accomplishing NaNoWriMo with 50,206 words on his current historical-fantasy project. I’m madly in love with it, and terribly proud of him—just wanted to say that in public space. Good show, darling sir.