A Not So Christmas Story

“There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

I’ve always wondered about this particular line in the famous Christmas Carol, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  I mean, didn’t we just celebrate the “scary” holiday two months earlier?  What do ghost stories and Christmas have to do with each other?

Well, the line in this song makes a little more sense now—at least after the “ghost” story I heard while gathered around our dinner table the other night.

This week we have the wonderful honor and pleasure of hosting my husband’s parents for some much needed family time.  I love my in-laws, or more appropriately, my in-loves. Something you need to know about my mother-in-love is that she has the gift of storytelling.  Whether it’s humorous, or suspenseful, a tear jerker, or just a feel-good illustration of daily life, she can draw and captivate a crowd of her children and grandchildren.

We had just finished dinner, and she began telling us a story.  The room grew quiet, and eerily cold. I think the lights above us even flickered. I might have heard a clap of thunder outside, or maybe it was our two big dogs running down the stairs. I’m just not sure.  But I do know this, she had captured our attention with one sentence, and we all leaned in to listen more closely.

“We found a Voodoo doll at your sister’s house last week.”

Wait, what?

Matt’s parents just recently relocated to California from Jamaica.  They are going to split their time between their home on the island, and living with Matt’s sister and her family in California.  Matt’s sister lives in a beautiful, sprawling, historic home in the High Desert.  Last week they experienced some flooding from a pipe that burst in the kitchen. It caused quite a bit of damage to the kitchen and adjacent dining room. Plumbers and Contractors were called in to repair floors, cabinets, baseboards and pipes in the two rooms.  It was quite the inconvenience right before Christmas.

One afternoon, a contractor, who was working on the repairs, found Mom and handed her a wrapped item that he had discovered behind a damaged piece of baseboard in the dining room. Upon unwrapping the little package, Mom found a doll—a doll with pins stuck all over it.  It doesn’t take a paranormal expert to figure out that Mom was holding a Voodoo doll.  There was a note accompanying the doll that was written in Creole (a Haitian dialect). The note most likely explained the details of a curse.  The contractor went on to explain that he finds Voodoo dolls at many of the projects he works on. They are usually hidden in walls and cabinetry, only to be found during a renovation.  Not the most comforting information I’ve learned recently. And to say I haven’t thought about this in the late, dark hours of the night since, is a complete understatement. Good grief!

Voodoo, as you may know, is a type of magic practiced in various places around the world.  Voodoo dolls are often made out of cloth, and stuck with pins.  The idea is that the pins, which are strategically placed on the doll, are used as a curse to inflict physical pain (at the same location) on the person receiving the doll.

I need to stop right here and explain a few things. First of all, Matt’s side of the family is God-fearing, Christ following people. Matt’s dad works in church ministry, as well as, Matt’s sister and brother-in-law, who pastor a church in their area.  Many church gatherings happen around this particular dining room table that sits just a few feet away from where the Voodoo doll was found.  You must be wondering, could this Voodoo curse really be directed at them?

The answer is no.  Matt’s sister and her family moved into this house about a year ago.  As I mentioned, the city they live in has given this house distinction as an historic home due to the status and wealth of the family that occupied the house, and the land around it, for years before.  Parts of the home, including the kitchen and dining rooms, were renovated by that family in 2005. Most likely the Voodoo doll has been behind that baseboard since then.

So, what happened to the potentially cursed family?  What horrible calamities came upon them?  Sadly, I don’t know.  But I have conjured up a whole story in my head of what I think happened, because I’m a writer, and I have a wild imagination.

A few days later Matt’s family said good bye to the Voodoo doll by burning her to a crisp in a makeshift fire pit. They prayed over their home, and each other, and canceled out any such “magic” that may have lingered.

Phew!

The plumbing is now fixed. The floors, cabinets and baseboard are repaired. Christmas celebrating commenced, and life has continued on as normal for Matt’s family. And isn’t that just the beauty of life in Christ? Yes, we face hardships. Yes, we face uncertain situations. Yes, we can even face Voodoo, witchcraft and evil because we live in a dark and fallen world.   But here’s the thing. We may have to live in this world, but we certainly don’t have to conform to it.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

In the world, not of the world. Amen?

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