About half of those who lived out of town arrived on Saturday, including Brandon’s parents, Patrick and Brenda O’Hara. Patrick had taken two weeks of vacation time so they could meet their newest grandson and spend some time with all of their son’s family. And then later the family members who lived locally joined us as well.
Since we knew there wouldn’t be enough room for everyone to stay at the house, we asked those living nearby, including the Shays, to let some of the others stay with them over the holiday. We made room for the O’Hara’s and Dad’s biological children and their families, so all the grandchildren would be at the house. However, the other family members would be staying at the homes of those who’d volunteered to put them up.
After I spoke with Graham, I told Brandon, Dad, Pop, Dion, Trey, Elliot, and Noah that I’d like to meet with them in the dining room after everyone else had gone to bed. They wanted to know what it was about, and I merely responded that I’d explain later. They weren’t exactly happy that I was keeping the purpose of this meeting a secret, but since they were curious about the topic, each one agreed to do what I’d asked.
In the meantime we enjoyed being with those we hadn’t seen in a while, and as soon as we put the boys to bed, those not spending the night departed. Shortly after they’d left, those staying at the house called it a night as well, and once they were all in their rooms, the rest of us met so I could fill them in about what Graham had told me. We sat around the dining room table and everyone else stared at me intently as I began to speak.
“First of all, two nights ago I experienced another scary episode. I woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe and Brandon had to help me sit up so he could pound on my back until I caught my breath again.”
“What was wrong?” Dad asked looking worried.
“I’m not sure, but it felt as if someone was either pushing down on my chest or something heavy had been placed on it so I was unable to fill my lungs with air.”
“Thank God you’re all right,” Pop commented, “but why didn’t you tell us this sooner?”
“Thank you for your concern, and I didn’t mention it sooner because I didn’t want to say anything about it in front of the boys. I felt they were already unnerved by what’s been going on and didn’t want to make matters worse. And then the next night Elliot came home and we focused all of our attention on him.”
“Ok, but next time let us know sooner,” Dad urged.
“I will, but now I have something else to tell you. I think I have an answer for not only the most recent episode, but for all of the other things that have been happening over the past week as well.” The others were all waiting breathlessly for me to fill them in. “Earlier today, Graham pulled me aside and explained that we had some new spirits in the house this year. One is Tristan’s mom, and she isn’t a problem, but the other two are troublemakers who shouldn’t be here.”
“Who are they?” Noah immediately demanded, acting like an impatient teen.
“I was just getting to that. It’s David Hubbard and Sam Abernathy.”
“Abernathy was one of the guys who beat up Ian and vandalized my car,” Elliot spat out in disgust.
“And Hubbard has caused our family numerous problems over many years,” Trey added.
“Yes, and it definitely explains what’s been behind the strange events that we’ve been experiencing recently,” Dad offered.
“True, but I doubt they’ve been doing those things together,” I suggested. “Although I may be wrong, it’s my belief that Hubbard is responsible for the attacks, while Abernathy is behind the lesser incidents.
“What attacks? What other incidents?” Elliot demanded.
“Ok, let me explain. Many things have been happening recently, and I believe Hubbard was the one who was responsible for the scratches on my back and the bruises on Brandon’s wrists. I also think he was behind the reason I couldn’t breathe the other night and the push Elliot felt when he nearly fell down the stairs.”
“He did all that?” Elliot asked rhetorically.
“Yes, but other things have been happening as well,” Brandon responded.
“And I feel Abernathy was behind the remaining mysterious occurrences, such as hiding the car keys and turning on Brandon’s lamp in the middle of the night. I also think he’s the one Elliot heard walking around in his bedroom last night and I heard moving about the house.”
“So you were right. It wasn’t one of the other boys,” Elliot whispered absentmindedly.
“And it’s the reason you didn’t catch anyone,” I agreed.
“Damn. Do you think Hubbard and Abernathy are also going to bother the others while they’re here?” Pop wondered.
“Graham said he didn’t think anything like that was going to happen.”
“Why not?” Noah challenged.
“Graham said Elliot’s father, Sammy and Andrew’s grandfather, Mr. Becker, Mr. Spencer, and Brent are preventing them from doing anything else, at least for now. Graham thinks our helpers will stick around as long as Hubbard and Abernathy are still here, seeing they don’t usually remain here all the time, except for Brent. If Hubbard and Abernathy get discouraged because they aren’t able to do anything, then they might eventually depart on their own. If they do, I just hope they don’t return after the spirits of those protecting us leave.”
“So the other spirits weren’t here to stop Hubbard and Abernathy when they did those other things?” Elliot wondered.
“Obviously not, except for Brent and Cody. Graham says those two are always here, but the others only show up on the holidays and for the birthdays of those they’re closest to. I think it also means that Brent wasn’t capable of stopping them alone and Cody was too small to help him.”
“That makes sense,” Trey agreed.
“Do you think we’ll have to get an exorcist to get rid of them?” Noah asked looking hopeful.
“I think an exorcist only works on demons, so I doubt it would help in this case,” Brandon answered.
“I’ll do some research and see if there’s anything else we can do to get rid of them, hopefully for good,” Dad offered. “I won’t be able to do it while the others are here, but if Graham is correct and nothing more will happen throughout the holiday, I’ll investigate our options next week, after the others have returned home.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I agreed. “I just wanted you guys to know what was going on.”
“Thanks for the information,” Pop stated. “We’re lucky Graham was here and could see who was causing the problems.”
The rest of us agreed with his observation, and then we turned in for the night. We intended on getting as much sleep as possible so we wouldn’t be overly tired while entertaining those who’d showed up to celebrate Christmas with us.
Sunday was fairly hectic as well. It started out with everyone going to church together, and Tristan got to hear Dion and Joshie sing a duet with an excellent rendition of “Oh Holy Night”. They took turns singing the melody and harmony, with Joshie going first on the melody, and they did a terrific job. I know it sent chills up and down my spine as I listened to them, and I’m certain the entire family was very proud of them as well. We could tell the congregation had also thoroughly enjoyed their duet, because we could see it on their faces, since no one claps for the choir or soloists at church.
“Man, you guys are really good,” Tristan enthused after the service ended.
“Thank you and I really like singing with my dad,” Joshie replied.
“And I love to sing with my very talented son,” Dion confirmed.
“Did you have to practice a lot?” Tristan followed.
“Yeah, and we did it after school the last couple of weeks,” Joshie explained. “Dad had to teach me how to sing the harmony when it was his turn to sing the melody.”
Once we got back to the house, nothing unusual happened. Those who had been here the previous day returned and the remaining family members showed up throughout the afternoon and early evening. As soon as everyone was at the house there was barely enough room to move around in the main areas. For the most part, however, we split into smaller groups, although those groups were constantly changing. The youngsters hung out in the rec room and played games, and the other family members moved between the family room, living room, and dinning room as they caught up with everyone else.
Meals were also fairly chaotic as different people took turns working in the kitchen fixing an assortment of dishes to serve. We even had to eat in shifts, seeing there were so many people that we couldn’t all fit around the dining room table. We had additional tables that we were going to use for Christmas dinner, but we didn’t want to keep setting them up and taking them down, because they’d take up most of the space in the living room and foyer. It all worked out, though, and everyone got fed.
Later that evening, Dad asked each of the grandchildren to join him in the family room, along with the O’Haras, because this involved their grandchildren as well. However, there wouldn’t be enough room for everyone else to fit in there, but Dad made one other exception as well and allowed Ricky and Tiffany to join them. During the drive to the house Ricky had told Tiffany about some of the family’s traditions, and Tiffany wanted to witness this for herself, and Dad was happy to oblige her.
As they entered the family room, Dad asked Elliot to play the piano, because he wanted to start out by singing Christmas carols. Once they’d finished a couple of songs, they watched the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol next, before Dad did what he was most noted for at Christmas.
As soon as the movie ended, Dad pulled out his copy of A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Moore, or as most people refer to it, Twas the Night Before Christmas. Just as he finished reading the final words, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” he closed the book and Wyatt screeched out almost simultaneously.
“Santa is looking in the window.”
Most of the other kids were prepared for this ritual, since the same thing happened every year. Pop would dress up in the Santa suit and go outside to wait for Dad to finish reading the poem. He would peer through the window but keep out of site until he saw Dad close the book, and that was his cue to let the kids see him. They did this so the youngsters wouldn’t argue when they were told it was time to go to bed. Even though Wyatt had seen this before, he still got excited when he spotted Santa, but it was Tristan’s first time and he was totally amazed.
“Wow, I’ve never seen Santa lookin’ in the window at us before.”
“I think he’s checking to see if you’re sleeping, so he’ll know when he can leave the presents,” Dad explained.
“Then we better get to bed,” Tristan urged. “Come on you guys, we got to go to sleep.”
The kids all raced off to their bedrooms and changed into their PJs.
“Oh, that was so cute to watch,” Tiffany stated after the kids had left the family room. “I think I’m going to do something like that when I have children too.” Ricky merely rolled his eyes when she said this, which Dad interpreted to mean that they hadn’t talked about having children yet.
After we’d tucked the kids in bed and felt they’d had time to fall asleep, the rest of us started retrieving the presents and placing them under the tree. Some of our visitors had to go out to their cars in order to get their gifts, while the rest of us pulled them out of the various hiding places in the house. We could only put the presents for the grandchildren under the tree in the family room, because they took up so much space that there wasn’t room for anything else. Once that had been taken care of, we stacked the gifts for the rest of us in the living room, but we wouldn’t open our presents until after we’d watched the youngsters open their gifts first.
It was quite late by the time those staying somewhere else were finally able to leave, and we told them we’d call in the morning to let them know what time to return. The rest of us were all well aware that we wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight, but seeing the excited kids opening their presents was going to be well worth the loss of a few ZZZs.
Wyatt woke up first, around 6:00, and then he woke Tristan, Benny, Joshie, and the two youngest biological grandchildren, Lucas and Kylie. Joshie and Benny talked the others into going downstairs to see how many presents were under the tree first, before they woke up the adults. They silently crept down to the family room and saw all the presents there, and then Joshie noticed there were even more packages in the living room.
“Man, there’s enough stuff here that we could open our own store,” he remarked before the others raced up the stairs to wake their parents.
Joshie didn’t go with them, because he’d told Wyatt to wake up their daddy and poppy while he woke up Grandpa Josh, Grandpa Jake, Grandpa Pat, and Grandma Brenda. The O’Haras were staying in Vinnie’s old bedroom off the rec room, so all the grandparents were on the first floor. Shortly after we’d been rudely accosted and roused from our slumber, we groggily followed our human alarm clocks to the family room. Once we were all assembled, Brandon and Trey started passing out the presents to the kids.
There was a flurry of activity as wrapping paper was torn off the packages and the various recipients commented about their gifts. Unbelievably, they even took time to show the rest of us what they’d received, and that continued until all of their presents had been opened. As the kids began to check out the various items they’d received and started playing with a few of them, the rest of us moved to the living room so we could exchange gifts with each other. We would repeat this process with the others when they arrived, until there was nothing left to open.
Once the last of the presents had been exchanged with those staying at the house, Dad, Pop, Trey, and Brandon headed into the kitchen and started making breakfast for the mob. When the preparations were well underway, Brandon and I called the youngsters to the dining room and made sure they were fed first. Once they had filled their bellies, the rest of us sat down to enjoy our breakfast.
After everyone had eaten, we washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen quickly, because we’d have to use most of those same items for Christmas dinner. After that had been accomplished, Dad, Pop, Trey, and Brandon began getting things ready for the next meal, and I asked Elliot to call the other houses and let them know they could start showing up at any time. While they were taking care of those things, I took charge of directing some of the others as they helped to set up the two banquet tables and assorted card tables that we would use for this purpose. Some of us would eat in the dining room, others at the tables set up in the living room, and the kids tables would be arranged in the foyer. It was a cluttered scene and a tight squeeze to move around, but it was worth it to have the family together on this special day.
When everyone else began arriving, we’d exchange gifts with them first, and those working in the kitchen would take turns doing this as well. As soon as the remaining family members had all arrived and the last of the presents had been opened, we sat down to enjoy Christmas dinner. Dad, Pop, the O’Haras, the Shays, Aunt Sally, and the oldest children sat at the dining room table, while the rest of the adults ate in the living room and the kids in the foyer. Several of us helped to bring the various dishes out to the different tables, because the kids were all old enough to help themselves this year, including Wyatt. In fact, he made sure to let his poppy know that he could do it himself, much to Trey’s chagrin.
The conversations were lively and the food delicious. We were busily engaged in these pursuits when Pop shouted out for all of us to hear. “Look outside, it’s snowing,” he declared as he pointed out the window.
“It may be a little late, but it looks like we’ll have a white Christmas after all,” Dad followed.
He was right. Leading up to today the weather had been cool, but not cold, so we weren’t sure if this would happen. I was convinced the snow would make the kids happy, although those having to drive might not find it quite as wonderful.
After dinner we chatted for a while longer, and that’s when some of our guests got a chance to corner those they hadn’t seen for a while and ask a few questions. “Elliot, you’re graduating this year, right?” Judge Shay asked.
“Yes, Uncle Steve, I graduate in May.”
“And what are your plans after that?”
“I’ve already been accepted to attend Yale Law School in the fall.”
“I’m glad to hear that, and please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
“How about you, Noah?” Shannon followed. “Don’t you graduate this year too?”
“Yes, but I’m just graduating from high school.”
“And what are you going to do after that?”
“I’ve been accepted to attend Penn State.”
“That’s great. Do you know what you’re going to major in?”
“Yes. I want to pursue a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.”
“Wow that sounds hard. What do you want to do after you graduate with a degree in that?”
“I want to get a job doing cancer research. You might remember that my dad died of prostate cancer and my mom died from breast cancer, so I’m hoping I can do something to prevent others from dying from the various forms of cancer.”
“Man, that’s terrific and I wish you well. You’re gong to have to study really hard to reach your goal.”
“I know, but I want to do this.”
A short time later the first groups began to leave. We said goodbye to those who were returning home either tonight or driving back in the morning, since some of them had taken an extra day off from work. It was sad to see the holiday come to an end, because it had been wonderful being with all of them again.
When we went up to tuck the boys in later the O’Haras joined us, and Tristan had something he wanted to tell us. “I had a really great time this weekend and I liked meeting my new grandma and grandpa. I got to meet Elliot, Grandpa Pat, Grandma Brenda, and a whole bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins too. And I got lots of neat presents.”
“And we were thrilled to meet you too,” Brenda confirmed.
“Yes, we were,” Patrick agreed.
“We’re glad you enjoyed yourself and like your presents,” Brandon told him. “We were hoping it wouldn’t be too hard on you after everything else.”
“Yeah, I know, and I miss my mom a lot and thought about her at different times, but there was so much goin’ on and so many people talkin’ to me that I didn’t have much time to think about her.”
“That was probably a good thing, and I’m sure your mom would be happy to know you were enjoying yourself,” I told him.
“Yeah, she always wanted me to be happy.”
“And we want you to be happy too,” Brenda quickly added, with Patrick concurring.
“And I hope you have really good dreams tonight,” I added as I kissed him on the forehead.
Brandon and his parents did the same, and then we tucked him in and said goodnight before turning off the light and shutting the bedroom door. We then made our rounds to say goodnight to the other boys as well, before calling it a night and turning in too.
In the morning, Dad’s biological children and grandchildren left after joining us for breakfast, and then Pop, Brandon and I had to go to work. Dad filled us in later about what happened next and said the rest of them chose to relax for a bit after we left, except for the boys. They were eager to go outside and play in the snow, and Patrick and Brenda agreed to join them. Dad loaned Patrick some winter gear and helped Brenda find something that would fit her as well. Living in Texas they didn’t have clothing suitable for the winter weather, but they were quickly dressed and went outside with the boys.
Once they were out of the house, Dad and the others sat around the dining room table and talked.
“Graham was right,” Dion pointed out. “Nothing happened while everyone else was here.”
“I’m glad, because I’m not sure how we would have explained it to them,” Dad followed.
“I can’t remember,” Trey said next. “Does everyone else know about Graham’s ability?”
“They all know Graham has the unique skill of being able to predict certain future events,” Dad answered, “but I’m not sure if they realize he can also see ghosts.”
“Then I’m glad nothing happened,” Dion offered, “or it might have led to some awkward discussions.”
“I don’t think anyone would have reacted badly to the news,” Dad reasoned. “Some of them might have had trouble believing in ghosts or that they could do the things that have been occurring around here, but that’s it.”
“It isn’t easy to accept that ghosts are able to do all of those things,” Elliot agreed. He and Noah hadn’t gone with their younger brothers, since their grandparents had offered to do it instead, but they promised to go outside with them later.
“You still have trouble believing ghosts can do those things, even after they did some of it to you?” Noah challenged.
“Even though I felt someone push me from behind and couldn’t see anyone else around, my first thought wasn’t that it was a ghost. I’m still finding it difficult to believe a ghost could have done that to me. If a ghost can pass through walls, then wouldn’t its ghostly arms and body just pass through anything when they came into contact with it, rather than interacting with it?”
“Obviously that’s not how it works,” Noah countered, which caused Elliot to scowl at him.
“I just hope Graham was correct when he suggested that those helping to keep Hubbard and Abernathy under control will stick around as long as the other two are still here,” Dad reasoned.
“Yes, I hope so too,” Trey agreed.
Dad said the rest of the day was fairly low key. He said Brenda and Patrick were half-frozen and worn out when they came inside to eat at noon, and then Elliot and Noah went out with the boys after lunch. They had a snowball fight before helping the boys build a couple of snowmen.”
“Yes, we spotted them the second we got here,” Brandon stated.
“And I told them I didn’t want to find a snowman in any of the cars later,” Dad added.
“Smart move,” Brandon and I concurred.
When the boys came inside shortly after our discussion ended, they were very excited. “Did you see our snowmen?” Tristan wanted to know.
“Yes, so which snowman is Frosty?” I teased.
“They both are,” he answered.
“Then judging from the size difference they must be Frosty Sr. and Frosty Jr.”
The boys thought about this briefly and then began to giggle. “Yep, Frosty the father and Frosty the son,” Benny clarified.
“I like havin’ a lot of brothers cuz I get to do all sorts of stuff with them,” Tristan enthused. “And I got to do stuff with Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Pat too. Grandma Brenda taught us how to make snow angels, and Grandpa Pat taught us how to make a really good snowball and helped us practice throwing them at a tree.”
“And we were glad he did that, cuz we had a snowball fight with Elliot and Noah later,” Wyatt added.
“That doesn’t sound fair, seeing they’re so much bigger,” I observed.
“But there was more of us,” Benny pointed out.
“And we beat ‘em,” Wyatt stated gleefully.
“Yeah, we creamed them,” Joshie agreed. “We hit them with four or five snowballs every time they hit one of us with a snowball.”
“Hmmm, another victory for David over Goliath,” Brandon mused.
“Hey, I learned about them in church,” Tristan said after recognizing the names.
“Yes, they’re a common lesson for Sunday school classes,” I agreed.
Now that they’d filled us in about their day, we sent the boys up to their rooms to change out of the clothes they’d been wearing outside and to wash up for dinner. As soon as they left, I turned to Dad so I could ask a question.
“Did you find out anything about our unwanted visitors?”
“Yes, I did. After the boys went outside, I got online and found some sites dedicated to paranormal occurrences. A couple had phone numbers listed, so I called and told them what we were facing and asked what we could do to stop it.”
“And what did they say?” Brandon asked.
“I was told we would need the services of a physically large, very intimidating, and extremely forceful male medium to help us get rid of Hubbard and Abernathy.”
“So not just any medium would be able to do it?” I followed.
“No, after I told them about Hubbard and the things he’d done in the past, the person I spoke with felt Hubbard would probably be very resistant to leaving, so we’d need a medium that could scare him into going.”
“Hubbard doesn’t scare easily. He’s too dumb for that,” Pop added.
“That may be, but it’s what the person suggested we do. He also said the medium would be able to advise us about the other things we should do in order to keep them away afterward as well.”
“So how are we going to find a medium that fits the bill?”
“The person I spoke with said he would call some people he knew to see if they could refer an appropriate medium that lived in our area and might be available. He said he’d call back and let me know.”
“And the medium will be able to tell if Hubbard and Abernathy are truly gone?” Brandon wanted to know.
“He should, but I will also ask Graham to drop by again so he can check it out as well.”
“Yes, it would probably be a good idea to do that too,” I agreed. “So how soon do you think we can get this done?”
“As soon as the guy gives me the name of a medium I’ll call and set up a time for him to come and do this. I was told that if everything goes according to plan it could be done in one day, but we won’t know for sure until the medium is here and does what he has to do.”
“Then hopefully this will be over soon. I just pray that our loved ones can keep Hubbard and Abernathy in check until then, otherwise I’m afraid those two are going to seriously injure or kill one of us.”
“Let’s pray that doesn’t happen,” Pop added.
“And I’m going to pray that we find a medium soon,” Brandon chipped in.
“I think we should all do that,” I agreed.
After dinner Dad received a phone call, and once he hung up he called the rest of us together while the O’Haras were with the boys.
“The guy I spoke with earlier gave me the name of a medium who said he’d be willing to do the job, but he won’t be available until after New Year’s Day.”
“Then I hope our helpers can keep Hubbard and Abernathy in check until he gets here,” Dion offered.
“I do too,” Dad agreed. “I’ll call him tomorrow and set up a specific date to do this, and then I’ll call Graham and ask him to come here the weekend after the medium does his thing.”
“That works for me,” Brandon responded. “We’ll just have to stay on high alert until then.”
We all concurred with his comment and went to sleep that night knowing a resolution for this problem might be at hand.