Time for more Dear Canada Christmas vignettes!
This time is A Christmas To Remember: Tales of Comfort and Joy, originally published 2009.
- Untangling Christmas (sequel to If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, Toronto, Ontario, 1919 by Jean Little). In the story, Fiona’s sister nearly died from the flu, and her sister Jemma did die from it, and at the end her beloved aunt married their widowed father. Things are not quite back to normal at their home, since Fiona’s twin Fan seems to be growing up more quickly than Fiona and spends her time with friends Fiona doesn’t like. The girls’ father wants to have something for everyone to focus on other than remembering Jemma, so they organize a surprise for a family that would otherwise not have any gifts, and Fan ends up making up with Fiona after all.
- An Unexpected Visitor (sequel to Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk, Spirit Lake, Quebec, 1916 by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch). Anya is back home in Montreal, where her family is all living packed together in one small room. Her almost-boyfriend invites her to a fancy tea at a hotel for Christmas, but she keeps seeing someone on the streets begging that she thinks she knows—it turns out to be one of the guards from the camp. But he finds Anya to apologize for his treatment of her in the camp, and Anya’s father invites him to spend Christmas dinner with them.
- Something That Matters (sequel to Turned Away: The World War II Diary of Devorah Bernstein, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1942 by Carol Matas). It’s always tricky to write a Christmas-themed story about a Jewish protagonist, but Devorah here mostly just wants to go carolling with her friends because she loves Christmas carols. Other than that she just wants to spend her Christmas vacation reading Agatha Christie novels, but instead her parents send her to her grandmother’s house, since her grandmother has a broken leg and needs some help around the house. Devorah ends up spending time with her grandmother’s neighbour helping her create a scrapbook about her sons who have been lost from the war. Eventually, Devorah is given the chance to go spend time with her friends, but opts to stay with her grandmother and her neighbour instead—because they need her more.
- These Three Gifts (sequel to The Death of My Country: The Plains of Abraham Diary of Genevieve Aubuchon, Quebec, New France, 1759 by Maxine Trottier). Monsieur Belanger has purchased an Indian slave who brings nothing but trouble to the house, but eventually they find that most of the trouble has been caused by Genevieve’s brother attempting to teach the boy enough French to talk to them, and they are able to have Christmas together without too much trouble.
- When War Hits Home (prequel to No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917 by Julie Lawson). This one is interesting—it’s a series of letters between Charlotte and her brother Luke, who is in France. Instead of the Explosion, which of course hasn’t happened yet, it’s focused on Charlotte’s friend Eva, whose father is from Germany and who is getting a lot of flack in school for that. Charlotte initially listens to the other girls, who are after her for “fraternizing with the enemy,” but eventually makes it up with Eva, who’s a better friend to her anyway, just in time for Christmas.
- Reading Henry (sequel to Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford, Almonte, Ontario, 1888 by Sarah Ellis). Flora has moved with her aunt and uncle out to British Columbia, where they are joining another aunt and uncle and their family. Suddenly Flora has cousins and friends, but she has one cousin, Henry, whom she absolutely can’t win over. On advice from her aunt Janet, Flora decides to just pretend like they do get along, regardless of what Henry thinks—and that combined with the wedding of Flora’s beloved schoolteacher at Christmastime means that tensions are relaxed enough for them to have a pleasant Christmas with the family.
- The Daft Days of Christmas (sequel to Where The River Takes Me: The Hudson’s Bay Company Diary of Jenna Sinclair, Fort Victoria, Vancouver’s Island, 1851 by Julie Lawson). While Jenna is initially stranded at the fort instead of being able to go home for Christmas, she makes her way back through the woods and nearly gets lost in the process—as does her nine-year-old friend Radish. But all’s well that ends well and they make it home safely for New Year’s.
- Shirley Goodness (sequel to Not A Nickel To Spare: The Great Depression Diary of Sally Cohen, Toronto, Ontario, 1935 by Perry Nodelman). Sally’s youngest sister Hindl desperately wants a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas, despite the fact that they couldn’t possibly afford one and they’re Jewish anyhow. Sally tries and tries to earn enough money to buy her one, but she can’t—so Sally and her sister Dora get her a book of Shirley Temple paper dolls instead, and Hindl gets a number of other gifts as well, so Hindl ends up having a very nice not-Christmas anyway.
- A Time to Rebuild (sequel to Blood Upon Our Land: The North West Resistance Diary of Josephine Bouvier, Batoche, District of Saskatchewan, 1885 by Maxine Trottier). While Josephine’s family is struggling with the unrest and despair in the district and sickness everywhere, they still manage to come together to spend Christmas with loved ones.
- Like A Stack of Spoons (sequel to Brothers Far From Home: The World War I Diary of Eliza Bates, Uxbridge, Ontario, 1918 by Jean Little). Eliza’s family has just survived a house fire, and they’ve been split up in the meantime with nowhere to go. Eliza is next door at her best friend Tamsyn’s house while their home is repaired, and while she’s there Tamsyn’s older sister Lavinia comes home with her baby to stay. So Eliza goes, but she comes frequently to spend time with Tamsyn and the baby, Albert, who has dreadful colic. Lavinia is nearly losing her mind since the baby just refuses to sleep, and Tamsyn manages to lend a hand while she’s there.
Next week: the final book!