Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A Family of Ghosts

(Guest post by Alex)

I don’t know what the spirit world is truly like, but knowing that it exists makes some ghost stories rather thought provoking, funny and/or meaningful, whether we’re talking the good or evil sides of such a spirit world.  I’m definitely talking about good spirits here.  Regardless of what happens after I die, I’d like to think I could have at least a little bit of the fun that is seen in the BBC series, Ghosts.

Alison Cooper learns of a centuries-old mansion that belongs to her family, and she is the next in line to inherit.  Unbeknownst to them at the time, the property is inhabited by ghosts from several different time periods, even from long before the house was built.  It all depends on where the person happened to die, whether they were part of a line of family members or if they happened to be visiting at the time of death.  They also happen to be wearing the clothing they died in.  Let’s just say that I hope I’m wearing pants when I die.

After Alison suffers a head injury, she is able to see the ghosts in her home.  After she understands what’s going on and after a series of odd events, her husband, Mike, believes her and gets used to living with ghosts that he cannot see or hear.  When he addresses them, he rarely is ever looking at them.  I mean…do ghosts float above us, or do they walk around on the same surfaces we do?  Who’s to tell?

Don't get caught with your pants down, like Julian.

There are several themes that make this series worth a watch.  One of them is that it’s a nice, comedic reprieve from the drama of the world.  We could all use a healthy dose of laughter.  One thing I take away is that of family history.  I often wonder what my ancestors, especially those recently departed, would say to me and what counsel they would offer upon being able to see me at my best and worst.  Alison is lucky enough to have a distant aunt who offers her advice and correction.  Usually it’s unsolicited, sporadic and puritanical in nature, but it’s advice.  Nevertheless, there is an essence of family love and learning.

I also find it interesting to see people (ghosts) amassed from several different eras having learned how to get along and become a family, at least until each one reaches their time to “move on.”  From the caveman, Robin, who has had the longest stint on the piece of land, to Lady Button, who tries to guard the virtue of the family line, to Patrick, the unfortunate scoutmaster who died while on a trip near the house.

Everyone has their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses, some of which can be difficult to tolerate.  One of my favorite characters is Kitty, a sweet, innocent and hilarious ghost from the 18th century.  She is followed closely on my list by a World War II army veteran who tends to stick to his rigid training and yet has a heart that I deeply resonate with.  All the ghosts have understandably different backgrounds, and certainly not everyone would know how to use an iron, much less a cell phone.  Nevertheless, they lend their various levels of knowledge and experience to their home life together for an unknown amount of time.

Over time, these ghosts have developed traditions.  This comes in the form of a talent show in the living room, or a movie night in the den (when Alison can start it for them) or reading a book propped up on a music stand (when Alison can turn pages every now and then).  Such traditions remind me of my own groups of friends. Albeit not from different time periods, we came together under a shared purpose which developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns.  We had weekly game nights, virtual sessions of Dungeons and Dragons, and occasional hikes or other outdoor ventures.  Whether by circumstance (like dying near the Button house) or by choice, non-blood (or bloodless) family relationships exist.

My cat, Cleo, often sits next to me when I’m watching TV.  For a couple nights, she stared at a random corner for quite a while.  I like to think there’s someone there in another realm, whether it be one of my grandmas, or perhaps a farmer who died near where my house now stands.  But alas, I cannot know for sure.  While Ghosts may not always have suitable material for all ages, my all-adult family certainly enjoys it.

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