A Time for Giving

The latest and greatest edition in Dear Canada’s Christmas edition.

A Time for Giving: Ten Tales of Christmas, various authors, 2015.

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This was a Christmas gift for me in 2015, so it’s one of the vanishingly few books for this blog that I bought new and that I’ve been the first owner of. Oddly, though, it’s in paperback, which makes it look a bit strange on my shelf of the rest of these books.

  1. The Angel of Citadel Hill (sequel to That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1912 by Sarah Ellis). Dorothy is still having trouble recovering from her ordeal on the Titanic when her older brother Charles writes home that he is engaged and will be bringing his fiancée, Naomi, home for a Christmas visit. While Dorothy is nervous at first, she’s pleased to meet Naomi, who is like a jolly older sister to her—and happy to find out that Naomi first figured out she was in love with Charles when she saw how worried he was about Dorothy, but how level-headed and strong he stayed in order to get her home safely. So, she says to Dorothy, she has her to thank for their marriage after all.
  2. The Real Blessings (sequel to All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts, Frank, District of Alberta, 1903 by Jean Little). Fair warning: I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, and I’m even less a fan of the short story, which has an awful lot of poetry about Alberta in it. At any rate, Abby is grieving the loss of her brother, but her friend Miss Radcliffe suggests that writing poems in her journal might help her feel a bit better—and it does.
  3. Dear Sachi (sequel to Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1943 by Susan Aihoshi). This one is written in letter form, not diary form, from Mary to her friend Sachi while they’re both in different internment camps. While Mary’s family lives in the main part of their small town now, things aren’t any better, and they’re actually worse in some ways. Mary finds the boys in town bullying one little boy, Stephen, who looks Japanese but doesn’t speak it. Mary ends up rescuing Stephen from a fall into an icy lake just in time for New Year’s.
  4. A Candle for Christmas (sequel to A Country Of Our Own: The Confederation Diary of Rosie Dunn, Ottawa, Province of Canada, 1867 by Karleen Bradford). Rosie thinks the new nursemaid for the baby is worse than useless, and her fears are justified when the baby Jonathan is almost run over by a speeding cart. Beth, the maid, begs Rosie not to rat on her, but Rosie tells her mistress all, and Beth is summarily dismissed—and Rosie is given the job of nursemaid, which she is blissfully happy to take.
  5. The Rescuers (sequel to Exiles from the War: The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss, Guelph, Ontario, 1941 by Jean Little). This one is a little different—it’s the diary of Jane, one of the war guests in question, who is Charlotte’s (essentially) foster sister for the war. Christmas is coming, and Jane misses her parents and her new baby brother badly, but she’s also worried that George—the eldest Twiss son—is coming home from the war with some kind of terrible injury. It turns out that George has had to have his hand amputated and now has a hook instead, and is very angry and bitter about it, and thinks it will make people sick to look at. But Jane manages to work a Christmas miracle by asking George to use his hook to fish his mother’s necklace out of a steam grate when they thought it was lost forever—and while it doesn’t fix everything, it brings a smile to George’s face for the first time in a long while.
  6. The Light and the Dark (sequel to Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 by Carol Matas). Rose has been adopted into her friend’s family, and gained a sister and four older brothers. She’s enrolled in the Christmas pageant, although she doesn’t quite want to be, and given the part of Mary to boot. As December wears on, Rose is more and more uncomfortable with everything—she’s severely traumatized from everything that’s happened in her short life, and eventually she finds herself hiding in the deepest, darkest corner of the basement, for a full day and night, feeling like she doesn’t deserve nice things—she doesn’t deserve the nice coat her adopted mother bought her, or to participate in a play, or anything. But her family finds her, and Rose thinks—she could look at herself as the unluckiest person in the world because her family was all murdered, or she could look at herself as the luckiest—her family was murdered, but she survived and has a family who loves her still.
  7. Winter with Grandma (prequel to These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens, Flint Lake, Ontario, 1966 by Ruby Slipperjack). This is an odd one out—it came out before the book itself was published, so it’s a very brief intro to Violet’s life with her grandmother—their life in a small cabin in the remote woods, their friends and neighbours and Violet’s school before she goes to residential school, and her struggles with neighbourhood dogs, inequality in their area, and wondering what it will be like when she has to go to school next year.
  8. Raffle Mania (sequel to Flame and Ashes: The Great Fire Diary of Triffie Windsor, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1892 by Janet McNaughton). I don’t know if this is on purpose, but it certainly plays into the stereotype that Newfoundlanders are lotto mad. Anyway, Triffie’s friend Susie is being forced to leave school and go into service, but her family needs her to work. Triffie comes up with the plan of raising a raffle to benefit the family, which goes off like crazy at her school. Unfortunately, her principal gets wind of it and she’s in terrible trouble until they learn why she’s doing it—and then Susie is allowed to stay in school and Triffie’s father finds a job for Susie’s father as well, so they all have a very good Christmas after all.
  9. Snowflakes for Christmas (sequel to To Stand On My Own: The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1937 by Barbara Haworth-Attard). Noreen’s hated cousin Jean has come to live with Noreen’s family, since they’re in dire straits, and everyone is miserable and poor together. Noreen is still struggling from the aftereffects of polio, and she receives a letter from one of her friends in the polio ward whose mother can’t afford to go see him at Christmas. So she comes up with the idea of crocheting snowflake ornaments to sell to earn the money for it, and Jean ends up being able to help out as well, bringing them together just a little bit before Jean and her mother move out to Toronto.
  10. A Proper Christmas Feast (sequel to A Sea of Sorrows: The Typhus Epidemic Diary of Johanna Leary, Ireland to Canada East, 1847 by Norah McClintock). Johanna’s family has been separated and then partially reunited—it’s just her, her brother Michael, and her uncle Liam. Johanna wants to have a real Christmas dinner, so she manages to earn a Christmas goose through her work, and even befriends the crabby Miss Cantrell as well, who helps her to cook all the Christmas dishes Johanna has never made before. That way, Johanna is able to surprise her uncle and brother with a Christmas feast as well as invite her new friend to dinner as well.

 

That’s all for the Christmas collection from Dear Canada!

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