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A Christmas Ghost Holiday Tradition

By Ilan Goddard

Dallas, TX –

One North Texas family has been celebrating Christmas for generations by sharing a special story. As part of our KERA Holiday Traditions project Ilan Goddard sat down with 12-year old Pete Henderson and his mother Janice of Dallas.

Pete Henderson: My name is Pete and I'm from Dallas Texas. One of our holiday traditions is Every year we read the "Christmas Ghost." My Grandma tore it out of a 1960 magazine.

Janice Henderson: And it's a short story by Pearl S. Buck and it was a story that my mother always read to me when I was growing up.

Pete: She read it to my Mom first. And she started a tradition where she reads it Every single year.

Janice: And now I read it to my son who is 12 years old. And now my son loves it.

Pete: It's about a boy named Jimsey and he lives in the big busy city. But he moves to the country. There he meets an old man that lives down the street from him who becomes his friend. And on Christmas Eve he is decorating his tree and the old man comes up and tells Jimsey about the Christmas ghost.

Janice: And the little boy runs to his mother and says "Mom we've got a Christmas Eve ghost!"

Pete: And Every night on Christmas Eve he walks from the barn to the old man's house and crosses a bridge.

Janice: And the mother says ,"Oh you know , Mr. Higgins likes to make up stories." But that night he wakes up in the middle of the night, it's Christmas Eve, and he looks out and he sees the ghost walking in the snow across the bridge and sitting down on the stone railing of the bridge.

Pete: And he goes outside and he sees the bridge, but it ends up just being the old man.

Janice: Mr. Higgins, the man he knows.

Pete: And he asks where the ghost is. And the old man says he's sitting right next to him. And Jimsey says, "But I don't see it."

Janice: And he says, "Mr. Higgins, it's not a ghost. You told me the wrong thing." And he said, "You know what, I pretend it's my best friend who I grew up with as a child. He lived in your house and I lived here just right across the river across this bridge. And Every Christmas Eve when we were raising our children, we each would trim our trees with our families.

Pete: And they would go to each other's house and compare trees and the loser would have to buy the winner a cup of hot coffee. But nobody Ever got a free cup of coffee because each thought that the other's tree was better.

Pete: His old friend, named Timothy Stillwagon died 15 years ago on Christmas Eve.

Janice: I know Timothy is not real. And I can't walk with him on Christmas Eve in the flesh and blood anymore. But I can walk with his memory and his spirit. That's why I told you there was a ghost. Because Every Christmas Eve, Even though I'm alone. I walk back and fourth across the bridge. And I pretend that I'm with my friend, Timothy. And I talk with him and I pretend that he talks back to me.

If you'd like to share in the holiday traditions celebrated by other North Texas families go to

Email Ilan Goddard