In the early part of the last century–way before TV, cinema or even radio–when people came together they made their own entertainment. Christmases in the Northern Hemisphere have long dark nights. So it became a tradition on Christmas eve to sit together and listen to someone read a ghost story. The best, in my opinion, are those which leave much to the imagination. Those that suggest a terror rather than describe its every detail. If you have yet to read any of M R James’ tales, you are in for a treat. His stories were written in the early 1900s, but are contemporary and chilling even now.
When questioned, this is what he said about his technique. “Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo.… Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.”
My own favourite of his is The Mezotint, published in 1904. You can read it here.— if you dare.
But may I also suggest that sometime during these holidays, preferably after dark, you put aside a few moments or even an hour or two, switch off the TV and find a cozy spot. Take some chocolate with you, as this always helps when the real terrors come, sit down somewhere warm where you will be undisturbed and read something that you can lose yourself in. It’s a holiday pleasure we’re in danger of losing altogether.
By the way, I have lots of other suggestions–even on this website. Just ask.