A New­found­land Christ­mas

The Compass - - SPORTS -

To start stunned.

I was a dozen pages into “A New­found­land Christ­mas” [Pen­ny­well Books] when I no­ticed a paint­ing on the wall above the daybed. The text reads, “Sarah watched as the snow melted from her dou­ble-ball mitts.” It took me a sec­ond or two to spot Sarah’s mitts on top of the stove’s warmer. I glanced across the page from the drip-dry­ing mitts and eyed said paint­ing.

“Hey,” I said to my stunned self, “that pic­ture is called ‘ Sis­ters.’ My sis­ter-in-law has that same paint­ing on her din­ing room wall. What’s it do­ing in this book?”

Then be­ing as much of a sleuth as Sherlock I checked the walls in other rooms in the book. Sure enough, there were sev­eral other vaguely fa­mil­iar pic­tures — “For You” and “The Gift” on page 4, for in­stance.

Keen as the edge of the prover­bial whet­ted knife, I did some two plus two-ing-mas­ter­ful de­duc­tive rea­son­ing — tal­lied up and ar­rived at stunned.

“Silly me,” I said, since stunned was be­com­ing a lit­tle frayed. “Sure, Dawn Baker, the book’s author and il­lus­tra­tor, is the very same artist whose pic­tures hang on the walls.” I de­serve a smack, eh b’ys? “A New­found­land Christ­mas” is the story of Sarah and her brother Michael, a cou­ple of young­sters from some generic Upa­long place whose Mom forces them to spend Christ­mas at Nan and Pop’s house in a New­found­land out­port. Per­ish the thought! When Sarah and her fam­ily ar­rive at Nan and Pop’s house, Nan is still fuss­ing around with her Christ­mas bak­ing but she does have a batch of sweet bread hot­from-the-oven on top of the stove, along with a pan of tou­tons.

An aside: Stunned me — in case you’ve for­got­ten — I’ve never been a lip-smack­ing fan of tou­tons but an inch- thick slab of that lassy bread slathered with hu­mon­gous gobs of but­ter would be a yum­li­cious Christ­mas treat!

Shortly af­ter the crack of dawn the next morn­ing, Pop rousts Sarah and Michael out of bed and hus­tles them off into the woods to cut a real live Christ­mas tree. Which causes me a smidgen of con­cern.

I un­der­stand the idea of min­i­mal­ism in art. That’s a lie. Ac­tu­ally, I’ve barely a no­tion about the con­cept of min­i­mal­ism. I’d said that sim­ply to sound smart, to com­pen­sate for my con­fessed stun­ness, but p’raps do­ing so only makes me sound stun­ner.

Nev­er­the­less, on Page 5 we see Pop and the young­sters drag­ging a dandy tree home from the for­est. I s’pose from the for­est. The illustration shows three iso­lated trees in the near dis­tance, and although Pop and ‘ em ap­pear to be com­ing from a woods to the rear, I fear tree­hug­ging zealots might ac­cuse Pop of slay­ing the forth fi­nal tree in the for­est.

You’re prob’ly say­ing, “Don’t be so stunned, b’y!”

Christ­mas Day, of course, has Christ­mas Din­ner: “Be­sides turkey and dress­ing, they ate salt beef and veg­eta­bles, pease pud­ding and gravy, and figgy duff.”

Ex­cept for the salt beef and pease pud­ding, more yum­li­cious fare.

Try as I might, I can’t force down a fork­ful of pease pud­ding, not even shuffed with the back of a spoon. On the other hand — or fork, or spoon — serve me dou­ble help­ings of figgy duff.




I feel no shame about my lack of com­pletely tra­di­tional taste buds but I do feel shame and in­ad­e­quacy when I see Pop so hand­ily carv­ing the turkey. I’m much too clumsy to slice the crispy breast meat.

Here’s Mis­sus’ mantra at our ta­ble at Christ­mas time — and Thanks­giv­ing too, for that mat­ter: “Harry, don’t you dare try to carve that turkey. You’ll only mo­grify it.”

As its ti­tle states, “A New­found­land Christ­mas” is ex­actly that; a chil­dren’s story about a … well, a tra­di­tional New­found­land Christ­mas with scoffs, jan­nies and mu­sic; church and a real Christ­mas tree; Christ­mas pack­ages, sleigh and coaster rides; stock­ing­capped kit­tens and dogs. Es­pe­cially a big, black bear of a dog. Look closely at the New­found­land dog on Page 17. Zero in on his col­lar. Fo­cus your at­ten­tion on the ini- tialled name tag fas­tened to the col­lar. See, it’s a capi­tol B.

I bet a loonie that ol’ bow-wow has a tra­di­tional New­found­land doggy name. I bet his name is Bo’sun. Thank you for read­ing.

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