A re­ju­ve­nat­ing collection of Christ­mas nostalgia

The Western Star - - OBITUARIES/CLOSE TO HOME - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives in Dunville, do­ing his damnedest to live Hap­pily Ever Af­ter. Reach him at gh­wal­[email protected]

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 speedof-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 — OK, 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. OK, 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-aflash 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 gem­dandy 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.

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