To Every Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story
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The story is simple, seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. As an adult he remembers the way things were back home on the farm on the west coast of Cape Breton. The time was the 1940s, but the hens and the cows and the pigs and the sheep and the horse made it seem ancient. The family of six children excitedly waits for Christmas and two-year-old Kenneth, who liked Halloween a lot, asks, “Who are you going to dress up as at Christmas? I think I’ll be a snowman.” They wait especially for their oldest brother, Neil, working on “the Lake boats” in Ontario, who sends intriguing packages of “clothes” back for Christmas. On Christmas Eve he arrives, to the delight of his young siblings, and shoes the horse before taking them by sleigh through the woods to the nearby church. The adults, including the narrator for the first time, sit up late to play the gift-wrapping role of Santa Claus.
The story is simple, short and sweet, but with a foretaste of sorrow. Not a word is out of place. Matching and enhancingthe text are black and white illustrations by Peter Rankin, making this book a perfect little gift.
For readers from nine to ninety-nine, our classic Christmas story by one of our greatest writers.
copying, license from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law. Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication MacLeod, Alistair To every thing there is a season : a Cape Breton Christmas story / Alistair MacLeod ; Peter Rankin, illustrator. “A Douglas Gibson book” eISBN: 978-1-55199-603-5 1. Christmas stories, Canadian (English) 2. Cape Breton Island (N.S.) – Fiction. I. Rankin, Peter, 1961- II. Title. PS8575.L459T6
They fell in silence into the puddles and into the sea where they disappeared at the moment of contact. They disappeared, too, upon touching the heated redness of our necks and hands or the faces of those who did not wear masks. We carried our pillowcases from house to house, knocking on doors to become silhouettes in the light thrown out from kitchens (white pillowcases held out by whitened forms). The snow fell between us and the doors and was transformed in shimmering golden beams. When we
reinforcement even in an ignorance I know I dare not trust. Kenneth, however, believes with an unadulterated fervour, and so do Bruce and Barry, who are six-year-old twins. Beyond me there is Anne who is thirteen and Mary who is fifteen, both of whom seem to be leaving childhood at an alarming rate. My mother has told us that she was already married when she was seventeen, which is only two years older than Mary is now. That, too, seems strange to contemplate and perhaps childhood is shorter for
sympathetic of all concerning my extended hopes, and says we should hang on to the good things in our lives as long as we are able. As I look at him out of the corner of my eye, it does not seem that he has many of them left. He is old, we think, at forty-two. Yet Christmas, in spite of all the doubts of our different ages, is a fine and splendid time, and now as we pass the midpoint of December our expectations are heightened by the increasing coldness that has settled down upon us. The ocean
is flat and calm and along the coast, in the scooped-out coves, has turned to an icy slush. The brook that flows past our house is almost totally frozen and there is only a small channel of rushing water that flows openly at its very centre. When we let the cattle out to drink, we chop holes with the axe at the brook’s edge so that they can drink without venturing onto the ice. The sheep move in and out of their lean-to shelter, restlessly stamping their feet or huddling together in tightly