Gift Guide 2016: Haunted Holidays
A few suggestions if you're giving your Ghost of Christmas Past a present ...
Reviewed by Robert Faires and Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 2, 2016
"The telling or reading of ghost stories during long, dark, and cold Christmas nights is a yuletide ritual which dates to at least the 18th century and was once as much a part of Christmas tradition as decorating fir trees, feasting on goose, and the singing of carols. During the Victorian era, many magazines printed ghost stories specifically for the Christmas season. These 'winter tales' did not necessarily explore Christmas themes in any manner. Rather, they were offered as an eerie pleasure to be enjoyed on Christmas Eve with the family, adding a supernatural shiver to the seasonal chill."
So begins the introduction in each edition of the Biblioasis series the Haunted Bookshelf, which dusts off antique tales of spectral encounters in nifty little booklets illustrated by esteemed contemporary cartoonist Seth (Palookaville, The New Yorker). It's the publisher's way of reminding us yuletide revelers in the 21st century that the presence of otherworldly spirits around the holidays didn't begin and end with Dickens' A Christmas Carol. As Scrooge himself beholds in that cherished tale, the December air has long been "filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went."
At the Chronicle, we've begun to suspect that some of that moaning might be owed to the fact that no one ever remembers to get a gift for the ghosts at Christmastime. Shuffle off this mortal coil, and you get dropped from Santa's list. That's why this week's Gift Guide is focused on suggested presents for the wraith in your life, something to make an apparition feel more appreciated. (Hint: They also work for beings who are not yet ghosts but will be down the line.)