Tag Archive for: Holiday ghost stories

Do You Drabble? Why You Should!

by Paula Gail Benson

Loren Eaton’s website

Last year, I wrote about the great experience of participating in Loren Eaton’s Advent Ghosts. I’m so pleased he’s offering the opportunity again this year. Even better, it will not be for a single day, but an entire week!

What is Advent Ghosts? It’s a mass storytelling extravaganza, featuring tales of exactly 100 words. Loren opens his website to anyone who wishes to contribute a “drabble” in the tradition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, celebrating the spectral, mystical, and magical elements of the season. You can send your drabble to Loren for him to post or put it on your website and send Loren the link, which he will display on his site for readers to find.

What’s a “drabble”? According to Wikipedia, it is a story of exactly 100 words (not counting the title or author byline). Some attribute the origin to the Birmingham University’s Science Fiction Society, which took the word from Monty Python’s Big Red Book (1971). Drabble was a competition where the first person to complete a novel of 100 words won the game.

Loren Eaton

Loren Eaton’s Advent Ghosts isn’t a competition, but a sharing of carefully crafted very short stories. I’ve been participating since 2015, when I contributed a piece of magical realism entitled “Beneath the Decoration”:

On the mantle, the shimmering stag perched, a desperate silver spray-painted statuary, a fake gray fur secured with a lopsided satin bow looped around his neck. His glittering eyes beseeched. The jolly fat man’s nose twitched. “An indignity, even for a replica reindeer. Won’t you join my sleigh tonight?” The twinkle in Santa’s eyes loosened the beast’s frozen shoulders. Dipping his mighty head, he shook off the fur loop and pitched it from his antlers. He reared and jumped into the open sack, hearing “Ho, ho, ho” as the drawstring closed above him. Up the chimney, they escaped décor purgatory.

In 2016, I wrote a poignant tale of a first Christmas without a spouse. I called it, “Ever Here”:

The flood washed everything away, including me. At the kids’ urging, Con stayed. So, among the tangled roots that emerged from the drained lake bed, my spirit lingered. First, Con rebuilt the dock, certain of the water’s return. The construction lulled me to sleep beneath green foliage blanketing the bank. Then, I awakened among brown leaves, hearing metal clanking above. I peered around the planks and saw a lighted framework tree. We’d had one each Christmas, now for thirty-seven years. Eyes glistening as he viewed it, Con said softly, “Not evergreen, but ever here.” I stretched, yawned, and nestled deeper.

For 2021, I relied upon Icelandic folklore to come up with “The Yule Cat’s Fury”:

As Skeggr placed the candle stub on his grandmother’s tombstone, its melting wax burned his fingers.

“I’m alone without you, Amma,” he said. “I’ll receive no Christmas gift of clothing to save me from the Yule Cat’s fury.”

He heard a low growl from the shadows.

“The thirteen Yule Lads played no tricks on me. Window Watcher saw I had nothing worth stealing.”

A light flickered nearby, illuminating Candle Snatcher, who handed Skeggr a ribbon with attached bell.

Gratefully, Skeggr donned his new apparel before leaving.

Seizing the smoldering stub, Candle Snatcher whispered, “Yule Kitty, follow your collar bell’s ring.”

Last year, I returned to the nostalgic with “Traditions”:

Mom always prepared the wooden Advent calendar, placing unique treats in each drawer.

In the spring, celebrating twenty-five married years, Pop gave Mom a new engagement ring. She removed the original and told me. “Joe, this is for your bride.”

I said, “Keep it for me.”

We lost Mom unexpectedly. Auto accident. With Sheila beside me, I watched Mom’s remains guided into the mausoleum vault.

The holidays approached. Important little things went undone. Regretfully, I lifted the empty Advent calendar, not having the heart to fill it until I heard something rattle in drawer 24. Mom’s engagement ring for Sheila.

Don’t you want to join in the fun? Here are Loren Eaton’s instructions:

(1) Email me here at ISawLightningFall [at] gmail [dot] com if you’d like to participate.

(2) Pen a scary story that’s exactly 100-words long — no more, no less.

(3) Post the story to your blog anywhere from Saturday, December 16, to Friday, December 22. Hosting on ISLF is available for those without blogs or anyone who wants to write under a pseudonym. (Don’t worry, you’ll retain copyright!)

(4) Email the link of your story to me.

(5) While you should feel free to write whatever you want to, know that I reserve the right to put a content warning on any story that I think needs it.

Here’s Loren’s post announcing the event: https://isawlightningfall.blogspot.com/2023/11/shared-storytelling-advent-ghosts-2023.html

Here’s Loren’s link to the stories shared last year:


I hope you’ll consider participating. It’s truly a joy. Thank you, Loren, for sponsoring the event. I look forward to it each year!