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BOOK ReMARKS: Christmas in Newfoundland

Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries [Ottawa Press and Publishing]
Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries [Ottawa Press and Publishing] - Contributed

Are you perished for a bit of Christmas nostalgia? Read Mike Martin’s Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries [Ottawa Press and Publishing] and it’ll bring you back to life.
The opening sentence of “A Grand Bank Christmas”, the first story in Martin’s Christmas collection, gave me a jolt: “They are now in their seventies, slowing physically but sharp of mind and wit.”
In their seventies! For frig sake, Mike, you’re talking about Missus and me.
That’s a lie.
The story concerns an old couple in Grand Bank nostalgically remembering Christmases of long ago.
Long ago! The couple is only in their seventies. From their perspective, I bet it feels like they just arrived on this planet.
That’s what Missus says to me when we reflect on our speed-of-light lives. “Harry b’y, it’s like we just got here.”
“Tis so, Missus,” say I.
Memories, while similar, are never exactly the same, eh b’ys?
The old codger — Okay, I’ll say “old” even though buddy probably feels like (dare I repeat?) he just got here — remembers how he looked forward “to the slaughtering of a pig every Christmas.”
I don’t have any Christmas memories associated with the demise of pigs. The most I remember looking forward to was a Roy Rogers colouring book and a new cap gun. Okay, and Cracker Jacks.
“Can Windflower Save Christmas?” is a suspenseful tale about the time Sgt. Winston Windflower — Mountie of renown in Fortune
Bay — struggled to save Christmas for the boys and girls of Grand Bank…
…which reminds me — and a good many more folks of comparable newly-arrived vintage, I dare say — of a radio program broadcast annually during my bay-boyhood: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon.
The Wicked Witch of Rumplestitch has taken Santa Claus hostage because…well, because she’s wicked. It’s up to Jonathan and the Squeebubblians to rescue Santa in time for him to return to Earth and stuff stockings on Christmas Eve.
And every year…
Hey, if any of you who actually are newly-arrived Earthlings want to find out if Santa is rescued, head over to Mr. Google’s house, key in Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon, follow the bouncing ball, so to speak, and hear it for yourselves.
Meanwhile, back in Grand Bank…
Curious readers who want to know if Sgt. Windflower — despite a snowstorm and a washout on the main road into the community — saves Christmas had better plank down some loonies for a copy of Christmas in Newfoundland and read it themselves.
B’ys, I neglected to mention something in an earlier story — “A Windflower Christmas” — in which Winston orders a Christmas gift for his honey, Sheila. Since she already has a beautiful coat, Sarge decides to “get her a pair of matching sealskin boots.”
B’ys oh b’ys, I read that line and, quicker than Granny caught the weasel, thought of a witticism the old fellers — old fellers who’d
arrived here before me and stayed for a little spell — oft repeated when admiring some winsome maiden’s nether limbs: “She got a fine
leg for a skin boot.”
Thus thinks Wince regarding Shelia’s shanks, I s’pose.
In “First Christmas on Calver Avenue” Mike Martin recalls the first Christmas his family celebrated in the house that would become his parents’ home for nearly 60 gone-in-a-flash years.
I must pay homage to the expression, “It’s a small world…”
When I was a callow, young university scholar at MUN, I spent Christmas of 1967 in a boarding house on Calver Avenue. (Mike, were you living nearby?) If I had the gumption, I’d pen a yarn called “My Christmas on Calver Avenue” in which I’d confess to spending hardly any time at all in the house on Calver Avenue because I was down over the hill on Goodridge Street wooing Missus, hoping to persuade her (pressure her?) to spend the remainder of her stay on this planet with me.
(An aside: Christmas 52 is on the horizon and — believe me — it seems like we just got here.)
The final story in Christmas in Newfoundland is the appropriately titled “The Christmas Miracle” in which Windflower experiences some ominous dreams.
And there’s a batch of snow stogging the roads in and around Grand Bank.
And a child is born.
I deserve a smack if I leave without remarking on the gem-dandy illustration in Christmas in Newfoundland.
Visual Arts students at Canterbury High School in Ottawa drew the pictures. Each illustration is drawn in black and white. Collectively, they remind me of the pages of a snazzy colouring book.
If I owned a double-box of fine-tipped coloured pencils, I’d be leaning over the kitchen table, gnawing my tongue and colouring like mad.
B’ys, I would.
Thank you for reading.

Harold Walters lives in Dunville, Newfoundland, doing his damnedest to live Happily Ever After. Reach him at ghwalters663@gmail.com

https://www.saltwire.com/lifestyles/regional-lifestyles/book-remarks-send-more-touriststhe-last-ones-were-delicious-365546/

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