Santa a New­found­lan­der?

New chil­dren’s book from But­lerville writer says just that

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

In 2013 Santa Claus re­ceived a Cana­dian pass­port, al­low­ing peo­ple in Canada to con­firm he is, in fact, Cana­dian.

But for Tom Christopher of But­lerville, he’s more than a Cana­dian. His the­ory is that Santa is a New­found­lan­der. At least that’s what it says in his new book, “An Old Time Christ­mas.”

A mem­ber of the Bay Roberts per­for­mance group DaNdA, Christopher is known for his song­writ­ing skills. But it’s only re­cently he has be­gun pub­lish­ing chil­dren’s Christ­mas-themed books. The first, “Santa Al­most Missed Our Town,” was re­leased last year. It was co-writ­ten by fel­low DaNdA and The Fa­bles mem­ber David Fitz­patrick. It was orig­i­nally writ­ten as a song.

“An Old Time Christ­mas” was re­leased ear­lier this year. Il­lus­tra­tor Heather Reilly, who lives in Dildo, drew the pic­tures for both books.

The short tale is about the nar­ra­tor look­ing back on a past Christ­mas in the 1960s when he ac­tu­ally saw Santa. Dur­ing his flash­back, he saw Santa do­ing a jig and singing a song. His ac­cent gave it away; Santa was from New­found­land and Labrador.

“I thought a Santa from New­found­land would be eas­ier for chil­dren to re­late to, es­pe­cially those in out­ports and iso­lated places,” Christopher told The Com­pass last week. “Also it adds a lit­tle more hu­mor to the story, and shows some good old New­found­land tra­di­tions, some of which are still go­ing on to­day.”

At craft fairs around the prov­ince, where Christopher has been sell­ing the book, he has been get­ting a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back.

“It’s very nice to see an adult pe­ruse the book and get to a part and smile and say. ‘My mom had one of those,’ or ‘I re­mem­ber that.’” He ex­plained. “(It) gives you a very good feel­ing.”

The il­lus­tra­tions too might bring back some nos­tal­gic feel­ings for New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans. In one im­age, a bot­tle of red pu­rity syrup is next to a glass and a fruit­cake. In an­other, Santa is rid­ing a ko­matik sled pulled by eight New­found­land dogs.

Christopher is now work­ing on a third book. Al­though he didn’t dis­close much de­tail, he did con­firm Reilly will be do­ing the il­lus­tra­tions

“I have a draft of a story laid out,” he ex­plained. “(I) just have to make a few changes for the fi­nal story.

“Very happy to say Heather Reilly has al­ready agreed to once again be the il­lus­tra­tor. She is very ex­cited and as al­ways brings so much en­ergy to her work.”

Be­sides writ­ing a book, he also has lyrics writ­ten for about a dozen songs, and hopes in the new year to have an­other tra­di­tional New­found­land al­bum re­leased.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Tom Christopher (right) wrote and Heather Reilly il­lus­trated the chil­dren’s Christ­mas story “An Old Time Christ­mas.”

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