Pickman’s Christmas Party 1993

A Scary Christmas Party

The week or so before Christmas, Tony and I had a holiday party for family, complete with all the trimmings: food, drink, games, gifts, and more. We had blown up a gross of balloons, most of which roamed the floors that evening. We had filled up another 50 or so, with helium and let them creep along the ceiling.

There was an area set aside for the children to do crafts, play games and watch movies. Later in the evening Santa arrived bearing gifts and they all came downstairs to meet with him. I remember thinking how sad it must be for young spirits to see gifts but not get them. My heart sank. After all the children got their gifts, we told Santa good-bye, and shortly after that the guests began to depart.

As one of Tony’s brothers ascended the stairs to get his families coats out of the master bedroom, he noticed smoke and then flames coming from a mop-head doll on the carpeted stairs. It was quickly doused in the sink.


This was our first uncontained and uncontrolled fire and it really scared us. I knew the cotton mop, the straw hat and the carpeted stairs was a perfect setting for fire to get out of hand and we could have lost everything. After our guests left, Tony and I talked trying to figure out what to do and how to handle it.

We assumed that the fire was Sallie’s way of being noticed, of telling us that she was upset because she didn’t get a gift from Santa. I could understand her plight, but the situation had to be dealt with just the same.

I harshly chastised her for setting the fire and I told her that, not only could she have burnt the place down, leaving no home for her or us, but that a fire could also hurt or kill us and the baby. “You cannot just set fires to get our attention!”

Tony and I did suggest and allowed her to put a fire in a oil lamp sitting on one of the living room end tables when she wanted our attention. We figured it was a controlled environment, and if setting fires was easy for her to do and one of the only ways in which she could let us know of her presence, then we would try to accommodate her abilities.

That night Santa had arrived later then we expected and Taylor had already been sleeping in his crib for the night. We had arranged for Santa to come back the next day, bearing gifts for both Taylor and Sallie.

The next day also brought two interesting things to light. One was communication from my mother-in-law telling of something my father-in-law saw while at the party the night before. He claimed to have seen the bear on the corner of the television table move seemingly by itself. He blamed the breeze from the ceiling fan for this activity. This was wrong for two reasons; first, the bear was weighted with beans and was far too heavy to be move by a fan. Secondly, we had helium balloons on the ceiling and the fan had been turned off long before anyone had arrived.

Later that day, Santa rang the doorbell and I let him in. He stood just a few feet into the living room and I, holding the baby in my arms, stood in the center of the room about 4 or 5 feet in front of him. Not more than a minute or two had passed, when Santa eyes became big and wide. Looking right past me at something behind me he was speechless.

When I turned around, I saw a tower of thick black billowing smoke coming out of the old lamp that we had designated as Sallie’s lamp the night before. She was trying hard to follow the rules we had made. I must admit that I was quite surprised, not to mention, very happy that she went about getting the attention she wanted in a safe way this time.


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About Debra Pickman

After living in an extremely haunted location with my husband who was physically and mentally brutalized by an unseen force my husband and I became experienced investigators applying our knowledge to other locations. We continue to speak at events, conferences and on radio shows around the world. Contact me at Debra@TheSallieHouse.com

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