“The morning was damp and we were feeling Christmas in the air, seeing and smelling it in the trees, as our feet crunched across new snow to where a wire fence stood between our fields and the railway tracks. It was there we saw a fir tree standing, more beautiful than any I can remember. Its limbs were full, well shaped and scented, and it stood proud and tall as though waiting for us.”
Sleigh Tracks in New Snowis a collection of Christmas stories set mostly in rural New Brunswick – principally the Miramichi Region – in a bygone day and age. The stories range from the early 1950s to the 21st century, as Curtis recounts the sweet old Christmases of his boyhood and more modern incarnations of the holiday. In this entertaining book, Curtis honours the deeply held traditions and rituals that made celebrating Christmas such a special time for his family and community.
During the author’s childhood, Christmas meant sleigh rides with horses and jingling harness bells, fresh cut forest Christmas trees and intense blizzards that blocked all roads for days. Winter in a rural community required hardiness, generosity, and sacrifice, qualities that were intensified during the Christmas season. Curtis tells how a grandmother sacrificed to ensure a happy celebration for her family, about the arrival of his sister while he and his father searched the woods for a beautiful fir tree to be trimmed in theirfarmhouse parlour, and the efforts of a prodigal son to get home for Christmas after years of absence. The holiday season also included the magic of skating on a frozen river with a bonfire of burning cattails, the excitement of the school concert, and the solemnity of a church service. These stories reflect an innocent time when truth, heart and honesty were always central to the celebration of Christmas.
Wayne Curtis was born in Keenan, New Brunswick, in 1943. He was educated in the local schoolhouse and at St Thomas University. He has won the Richards, the Woodcock and the CBC Drama awards and written for The National Post and The Globe and Mail. In 2005 Wayne received an honorary degree from St Thomas University. He divides his time between his cabin on the Miramichi and Fredericton. This is his sixteenth book.