Greenville writer, Hancock artist team up for holiday book

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • ’The Last Communion’ is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

  • 'The Last Communion' is a new book collaboration written by Chaz Beaulieu of Greenville and Hancock artist Melody Russell. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/24/2020 10:19:06 AM

It was 25 years ago this Christmas Eve when Chaz Beaulieu sat down to finally put an idea down on paper that had been circulating in his head for months.

The idea was a story for his young daughter Jade, who is now 33, centered around the idea of kids growing up and the inevitable questions that come up around the magic of Christmas.

On this particular night before Christmas, Beaulieu was missing his daughter, who was in Vermont with her mom. After attending the 7 p.m. service at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, Beaulieu went back to his Greenville home with the intention of returning to Peterborough for the midnight mass at All Saints’ Church.

Then he started writing about a girl by the name of Sarah and what would transpire on that special day before Santa would visit, eat the freshly baked cookie, drink a tall glass of milk and leave presents under the tree before heading off to the next house. Beaulieu became so involved with the story that he never made it to the second service.

“I started writing and when I looked up it was 11:30 or midnight,” he said.

Once he got going, Beaulieu couldn’t stop. The story just flowed out and he had to finish.

“All I had to do was sit down and write it,” he said.

But for more than two decades, the book sat unpublished. He had conversations with Hancock artist Melody Russell about doing some illustrations for it, and earlier this year she was finally done – using her unique style of potato print to pair with Beaulieu’s words.

“We had this plan for quite a few years,” Beaulieu said. Russell adding “I really love how it came out.”

And right around Thanksgiving, the book, “The Last Communion” was finally completed and is currently for sale at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough.

Beaulieu cautions that this is a story for the parents of young children, and not for children themselves. It’s a quick read, but one that provides an insight into that special connection between parents and kids, centered around the magic of Christmas.

While it’s based on his own story with Jade, Beaulieu said “it’s mostly a true story, but it isn’t literally true. It’s somewhat fiction.”

The real candles in the windows were something Beaulieu said they would set up each year, and the wreath cookie is an ode to his one time passion for making and selling the holiday decor.

Jade was curious about Santa and all that gets done in one night. It presented the perfect opportunity for a story, a gift to his daughter.

“I know she believed, but also knew what parts parents played in Christmas,” he said.

Russell describes Sarah as “a little girl turning into a young lady.”

It’s really a story about “growing up and people having to change,” Beaulieu said. “Unfortunately we can’t stay kids forever.”

But there is still that sense of amazement.

“It’s does have this wonder and reverence on a winter’s night when the stars are bright,” Russell said. “Children live in a realm of imagination and wonder.”

It was the nostalgia that Beaulieu credits for writing it on that Christmas Eve in 1995. He thinks that people will relate this year, as they will miss the moments spent with family and friends over previous holidays that just won’t be happening this year.

“People will do that a lot this year,” he said. “With those things we don’t have.”

Russell sees the book as an “act of love for his daughter.”

A number of years ago, Beaulieu did a recording of the book and still has one copy left. But now, 25 years later, he has a book to finally give that inspiration he had one Christmas Eve a new life.

“I just wanted to get into a book, something you could have in your hand,” Beaulieu said.


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