This story may not be an actual "ghost" story. It's certainly much less glamorous than many of the tales here, and it's not overly scary. But it is an experience that has given me much food for thought.
On my first Halloween in this house, 3 years ago, I set out a plate of food and invited the spirits of the house and land to winter inside with us, as had been my custom for years. In all the time I'd been doing it, I never really stopped to think just what I was doing - only that it was a nice gesture. (I don't do things without thinking about all possible results anymore!)
It took a week or so for me to realize that my 18 month-old son had been waking with night terrors every night since Halloween. Oh, I REALIZED it, of course, but I never put two and two together. After all, children waking in fear isn't uncommon; except that he'd never woke at night before. One night, going back to sleep after comforting him, my "ritual invitation" sprang to mind, and I thought maybe it was somehow connected. So, the next afternoon, feeling very foolish, I returned to the same spot where I'd left the plate and addressed the spirits out loud. "I told you that you were welcome here," I said, "And you are. But please don't scare the baby."
He hasn't had a night terror since.
A few days after that, I was mentally moaning about the number of spiders in the house. It was getting rediculous! Every time I entered a room there were at least 2 big black spiders crawling up the walls. All of a sudden, I just knew.
Back to that spot again. This time the monologue ran: "Look, I'm scared of spiders. You're still welcome to winter inside if you choose, so long as you don't scare the baby, but please understand that if you take the form of a spider, I'm going to have to try to kill it."
I'd love to say I never saw another spider in here, but that would be a lie. They did, however, instantly drop down to the level you'd expect - maybe one a week or less.
Maybe it was nothing; just coincidence... but I don't believe that for a minute. And now, when I issue my annual "invitation," I'm always sure to attach the "no scaring anyone" clauses right up front!