Christmas Ghost Story

This “Christmas Ghost Story” was published in a Welsh paper last year, reporting a homemade mystery. Here’s the nub:

“It was the build-up to Christmas 1947 and I can remember a few falling snowflakes, not realising that they heralded continuous blizzards and the misery of frozen water pipes in the bungalow where my mother and I lived. All movement had ceased – no school, no transport, little food and worst of all, no pay from my cancelled South Wales Echo paper round.

“This festive season had already been saddened by the death of my father the previous April, but although his absence was still strongly felt by my mother, I was less touched by it. I had seen so little of a workaholic who was always out, doing whatever he did.

“It must have been about two weeks before the big day, when early one morning, I became aware of some outside activity. Through my iced up bedroom window, I could just make out a few birds pecking at the silver tops of two milk bottles. Oh! I thought, those magpies are at it again and I was soon back under my warm blankets.”

But then, the boy realized that he shouldn’t be receiving milk deliveries at all: “all doorstep deliveries had stopped some 10 days before – my mother and I were left very puzzled, yet desperately thankful!

“Incredibly, similar deliveries were made right up to Christmas Day whereupon there appeared three bottles bearing red, silver and gold foil tops. Oh! Boy, the three wise men had been! We checked for footprints in the snow, even left thank you notes in the windows, but never saw any sign of who the benefactor might be. The final delivery of a whole crate was made on Boxing Day, and a few days later, the levels of snow had dropped low enough to allow some necessities to get through by sledge.”

“But the ‘mystery of the milk’ remained unsolved right up to the time of my mothers’ untimely death in 1949.”

He was moved out of Wales with his Aunt and didn’t return until years later, when he bought the house at which the miracle of the milk occurred. It wasn’t until he searched an old bunker on the property that he discovered a pile of newspapers, all with the same January 1947 date.

“I was about to throw them onto my nearby bonfire when a sudden breeze blew open a page of the top copy. I was being shown more gold than ever was in King Tut’s Tomb; a photograph of my father, (taken a few months before his death), receiving a presentation from the City Lord Mayor with headlines which said it all: ‘HAT-TRICK OF WINS FOR THE MILKMAN OF THE YEAR,’ followed by a leading quote, ‘As long as the cow does her job, I will do mine.’”

Not even a blizzard — or death? — would stop him.

— Tom Hoopes