“Cape Breton’s Christmas” Survives COVID

Cape Breton's Christmas 7 book coverThe Spectator heard from Breton Books this week and the news is good: the seventh edition of Cape Breton’s Christmas, publisher Ron Caplan’s annual book of seasonal stories and memories, has appeared this year despite the extenuating circumstances that have constituted pretty much everything related to 2020.

Caplan says COVID-19 restrictions meant he was not able to “search for Christmas stories in his usual way,” he was:

…not able to stop people at the beach or on the sidewalk or in the grocery store—to invite them to send in their Christmas stories.

Instead, he sent the call out virtually — through emails and social media posting — and lo! and behold, Cape Breton’s writers, published and unpublished alike, answered. Caplan says he received more stories than he could possibly include in the 2020 edition:

So the new Cape Breton’s Christmas is available with 55 exceptional stories—stories that remember hilarious parties and sweet memories, especially the efforts of parents who were determined to make Christmas a success. Parents who climbed onto the roof to prove that Santa is real and who sewed through the night to make a new-to-you coat for her daughter or to have the stockings filled for Christmas morning. Grateful memories are offered up in praise of those who cooked and decorated beyond belief—leaving us the memorable Christmases we talk about to this day. All this and more is found in Cape Breton’s Christmas, Book 7.

Says Caplan:

I am grateful that so many people responded to what has become a Cape Breton holiday tradition. Not only did they send in their memories for Cape Breton’s Christmas, but they took the time to share them in some beautifully written stories. And these are often people who never published anything before.

The book’s covers, front and back, are tributes to photographers with the late Robert R. MacDonald’s magnificent holiday time portrait of “The Old Post Office” in Sydney Mines;  Pat Morrow’s image of three musicians walking a snow-covered “Abbey Road “ in Cape North; and Ralph Mason’s preservation of Jack McKenna’s unbelievable display of Christmas lights in Wentworth Park.

Caplan says he is moved by the authors’ “willingness to save their rarely told stories, and then to share them.” Especially given that participating writers receive only a free copy of the book — all royalties from sales of Cape Breton’s Christmas going to Feed Nova Scotia via CBC Radio’s “Light Up A Life” project.

Sadly, there will be no gathering at the McConnell Library in Sydney to mark the launch of this year’s edition, but the book will be available in bookstores and gift shops across the island (and beyond) or by calling 1-800-565-5140 or by visiting Breton Books online. Caplan says he will “mail gifts anywhere in the world.”