A Danberry Christmas Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Abandoned

Jack Dingle has only one wish for Christmas. He wants to reach his family before Christmas morning.

Jack Dingle dragged himself up the embankment as a curtain of swirling snow cut his vision to only a few feet in front of him. The wind was like a knife cutting him to the bone and his joints ached from the cold, but he wouldn’t quit. A single thought ran through his head over and over. Home for Christmas.

For him, growing up, Christmas had always been a special day and not because of the gifts, but because his family came together. Fights and arguments that happened during the year were all laid aside for that one day, and everybody sat down together. He looked at his watch and saw it was 11:36 PM on Christmas Eve.

He turned and started trudging down the snow-covered road. Jack couldn’t see anything to tell him he was going the right way, but he knew he was. His torn and muddy suit wasn’t proper attire for the weather, but he refused to let the bitter cold stop him. His feet had long since lost all feeling and felt like two large blocks of ice strapped to the end of his slowly numbing legs as he stumbled on.

He let his mind drift back as he staggered forward. All the way back to that Christmas morning he had left his parent’s house in the early hours running the five blocks to Kelly Myers’ home. Throwing snowballs at her window as he shivered in the crisp Christmas morning air. Scooping up another hand of snow, he launched it into the air as she opened her window. It was like something out of a romantic comedy Kelly so loved. Fearing waking her parents, she signaled him to meet her at the door and ducked back inside.

He had grabbed on a thin jacket as he had run out of his house, so he was shivering when she opened the door for him.

“Mom and dad are upstairs so no funny business, Jack,” she warned him as she opened the door.

He ducked in with a smile and pushed the door closed behind himself. It was more than the cold that had him shaking as he dropped to a knee, digging a small box from his coat pocket.

“Kelly, I love you and I want to marry you. Please, all I want for Christmas is for you to say yes.”

Her scream woke her parents, and that is how as he slipped the ring on her finger, her father in a pair of old boxers rushed down the stairs with a baseball bat in hand. It delighted both of their families with the news and that Christmas was even more special as the two families came together as one.

A smile crept across Jack’s frozen features as he drifted forward. Christmas was nearly upon him and he still had a long way to go. His knees popped as he dragged his feet, creating furrows in the snow which the storm quickly filled in behind him. Even his determination was not enough to push him on, and he slowly sank to his knees.

Nick Douglas preferred avoiding Danberry and all the weirdness that surrounded that town, but here he was on a road headed for that town. It was all his sister’s fault. He had agreed to spend Christmas Eve with her and her kids. His sister had recently moved, and this was the first time in weeks he had seen her and her kids. He had lost track of time and when he finally left; the storm was in full force. He could have turned back and spent the night on his sister’s couch, but he wanted to be home Christmas morning.

A warning on the radio had him leaving the route he had planned to take and turning towards Danberry. It was slow going in the storm and that was all that saved him from hitting the figure slumped beside the road. The storm was also the reason he stopped. Stories abound of strangeness around that town like Illinois's own little Bermuda triangle. Stories of figures on the roads around the town that disappeared or weren’t human had long ago convinced him to never stop, but the storm changed that.

Leaning over, he popped the passenger door. “You need a ride buddy?”

The figure stirred, shaking the snow off and standing to shamble forward as it seems to nod.

“Get in here.”

Nick saw the figure was a man not dressed for the weather, and he reached behind the seats to pull out a blanket as the man climbed in. The man was wearing a torn and muddy suit that cracked from the ice on it. His face was pale and his hands shook as he tried to take the blanket. Nick, quickly, helped this stranger to wrap up in the blanket and turned up the heater in the truck.

“Thank you.” The man’s voice was gravelly like he was having trouble getting the words.

“It is the Christmas season, so it wouldn’t have been right to leave you out in this storm. I’m Nick.”

“Jack, Jack Dingle. I have to get home for Christmas.”

“Nothing is worth freezing to death, Jack. You should have at least dressed for the weather.”

“Christmas day is. It is magical, and I always spend it with my family.”

Nick looked away, wondering if he had picked up a crazy man. He started the truck moving again. “Where are you headed,” Nick asked, already knowing the answer?

“Danberry. It is just up this road.”

“Is your family expecting you or are you going to surprise them?”

“They expect me, I never miss Christmas morning. It holds so many special memories. I married my lovely wife on Christmas morning.”

“That is special. I’ve never met anybody I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

“I’m so sorry for you. My Kelly completed me, and when our daughter was born it was like the greatest gift of all. She was born on Christmas.”

“You got married on Christmas and your daughter was born on Christmas also, you are shitting me.”

“No, it is true. Like I said, Christmas is magical. It is the one day of the year when wishes can come true.”

Nick thought of all the Christmas mornings as a kid when he ran downstairs to find presents under the tree. The joy of tearing them open to find the things he had so wanted, and it seemed magical back then. Getting older, the gifts had become less and less until they finally stopped. He had lost that feeling of Christmas being magical somewhere along the way.

“I guess it is true for kids, but as adults, we know that the gifts aren’t delivered by some jolly old fat man but bought with our hard-earned money.”

“It is just money. It should be used to bring happiness to others, Nick, but Christmas is about more than the gifts. Christmas is about being with family and those we love. It is about forgiveness and finding the happiness in the people around you.”

Nick thought back to earlier that night at his sister’s house. He had missed his sister and her kids after they moved. Watching the kids open the gifts he had brought them and the smiles on their faces had made him happy. Even spending time with his sister had been nice.

The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to turn around and spend Christmas morning with them. He could drop Jack off and turn around. It would be late when he got back, but he was sure his sister would be just as happy he was there as he would spend Christmas with her.

As the road curved around the hill Danberry cemetery sat on, Jack sat forward. “Here is good. My family is just up there waiting for me.”

Nick felt a shiver run down his spine as he saw Jack point to the hill. He stopped the truck at the gate. He watched Jack slowly, making his way up the hill where he met by two other figures, one short like a child. Sitting there shaking Nick, wondering if he was crazy or if the strangeness of Danberry had somehow taken a hold on him. He finally decided he needed to get away and turned the truck around. It didn’t matter who or what his passenger had been, the idea it had planted was a good one.



Old Rufus noticed the tracks in the snow as he headed for the diner to get his morning coffee. It would have caused him some worry, but the footprints headed into the graveyard, not out. He still followed them using his long-handled spade as a walking stick. He climbed the hill.

They huddled together, the three of them facing the east in the early morning sun. It took Rufus only a moment to recognize them and smile. The Dingle family had died in a car crash during the summer, but they found only Kelly and Christina’s bodies. He was so glad Jack had made it home for Christmas. He left them to enjoy the morning and to inform the sheriff that Jack Dingle had come home.


Submitted: December 23, 2020

© Copyright 2023 Alex S. Foley. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


JE Falcon aka JEF

A nice solid Christmas (ghost )story with a pleasant ending, thanks for the read. --- Oh, is this the Danberry where all roads seem to pass the Danbury Municiple Airport, and a railroad-car diner is very near the courthouse?

Wed, December 23rd, 2020 6:59pm


The name of the town is Danberry not Danbury. Most people make that mistake since Danberry doesn't appear on maps.

Fri, December 25th, 2020 8:27am


Great story I'm glad they could be together for Christmas.

Tue, February 2nd, 2021 5:40am


Danberry is probably the one place in the world where this could happen, but Danberry is where all kinds of weird crap happens.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Sat, February 6th, 2021 3:28am


That's a lovely story and a great Christmas story too

Tue, February 21st, 2023 7:04pm


May I recommend that you read my short story give stories the mountain woman and the ears

Tue, February 21st, 2023 7:05pm

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