The gender of our ghost.


“I am convinced there is a ghost in our house!” Sahana proclaimed as one of our musical Christmas knick knacks on the coffee table started playing Christmas music without any assistance on our part.

We were having dinner. We all stopped chewing and looked at each other. How, on earth did that happen? After a few moments of silence, Sahana also said, “Well, I do believe there are ghosts and one lives in this house. I have felt a presence. And she likes me the least. She has smacked pies out of my hand!”

Ryan, who keeps a baseball bat with him (or a kitchen knife sometimes, much to my chagrin) when he is alone, silently looked at her for a few seconds. He said he too is a believer, his voice filled with awe and a little fear.

Then he looked up at the air on top of my head and pleaded with the ghost, “Well, you are welcome to stay. Just don’t cause us any harm.”

I said I also don’t NOT believe in ghost. There is a possibility that spirits linger but I advised the ghost to remember that only weak seek revenge, strong forgive and smart ignore so either be a strong ghost or a smart ghost but please don’t be a weak ghost and seek revenge on us.

That statement elicited a chorus of “MOM, DO NOT SAY SUCH THINGS TO THE GHOST!!! She might be provoked to harm us. What are you doing?” This outburst was followed by Ryan looking at the air on top my head again and saying, “Please forgive her. She does not know what she says. Hey Sahana, do you know if our parents killed anyone in this house when we were little?”

I happened to address the ghost as “it” which was not acceptable to my children. “Don’t dehumanize her, mom. You will make her angry!” Sahana exclaimed.

“But this ghost is not human. It is former human!” I justified.

“You called her it again”. Stop doing that. She will get offended!”

“So what pronoun should I use? And how do you know it is a she?”

“Ugh, don’t use it!! Use they/them. Keep it non binary. That is the best option. But DO NOT dehumanize the ghost by calling them ‘it’. They may seek revenge.”

“Well, then they will be a weak ghost.” I shrugged.

“MOM!!! Don’t provoke them! What are you doing?”

The deed was done, though. I had provoked them. The Christmas music thing kept on playing at interval throughout the night as I gnashed my teeth at the ghost.

Next morning my husband said, “Jeez, that thing was playing at night. Let’s turn that off!” I did not find a turn off button on it, so I handed it over for him to try.

Sahana and Ryan are convinced it is our non binary ghost playing a prank. Another Christmas prank.

The music continues to play intermittently. Our non binary resident ghost continues with a prank of their own. Time to take the batteries out of that infernal Christmas toy! And if the music still continues, we will call an exorcist. Ghost, you have been warned…..

Bruce ‘The Spruce’


Two battles ensued. Battle field was our local Home Depot. The family made a pleasure trip to choose the perfect Christmas tree. This is America, there were choices – too many of them. For a woman who has extreme difficulty making choices, it was a nightmare. But I put on my best smile and marched on between rows of rows of fragrant Christmas trees. Then I spotted THE one. A little living Christmas tree standing in a corner. That was the one. I said, ‘Guys, look, what a beautiful little tree!’ And just like that, battle lines were drawn. Kids vs parents because Sean allied with his wife.

‘Nooooo! That is tiny! We want a big one! We can’t have a small Christmas tree!’ Both the little people showed a united front.

We went back and forth. But I won the battle by manipulating the sentiments of two sensitive souls. I was sure of my win from the start. I just had to emphasize on the ‘live’ tree as opposed to a dead tree.

The counter attacks slowly started dying down. They became whispers and quite inconsequential:

‘But how about all the ornaments? How about all the lights we have?’

‘But think! We can plant this one in our backyard once Christmas is over. We can watch it grow!’ Sean made the winning remark.

Bam! Boo yah! Ding, ding, ding we have a winner.

Sean hauled it up to pay.

As we walked behind Sean, the second battle started about naming the baby tree. We are a little weird like that. We name everything. Names were thrown up like juggling balls. Reginald, Nero, Luke and others that I forget. Of course, what Sahana proposed was immediately vetoed by Ryan and vice versa.

This battle was taking a serious turn. Egos were getting hurt. The united front against the parents was cracking and I could hear the cracks. I needed to intervene while keeping the Christmas spirit alive.

‘I got it, I got it. His name is Bruce. He is Bruce ‘the Spruce!’
(Get it? Spruce fir? Yes. I am clever like that 🙂 )

A moment of contemplation, little grumbling and then gradual acceptance. Nobody lost face, nobody had to give in. Mother named it. And it was an acceptable name, fun even.

So Bruce ‘The Spruce’ came home. He is a little guy. He will not be the big, gaudy Christmas tree that we have brought home every year. He will not, perhaps, bear the burden of all of Ryan and Sahana’s handmade ornaments or the glaring, unbreakable decorations and twinkly lights that we put on the big trees every year. But he will live and grow and stay ever green. He is even liked by Sage, who gives it a sniff and looks at us quizzically.

‘Humans, why are you bringing nature inside our home?’ He is questioning us with sagely wisdom.

Most importantly, Bruce ‘The Spruce’ is making me smile as I pass by his corner. It’s that time of the year, right? Ryan even caught me baby talking to the tree.

‘Why are you baby talking to Bruce ‘The Spruce’ mom?’

‘I was just telling him he is pretty. That is all! Don’t mind me. I am just happy!’