One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six. Dylan Thomas
There is something dreamlike and innocent about Christmas as a child. Perhaps it’s not just Christmas, but all of childhood. At any rate, Christmas does have a special dreamlike quality with the decorations, a magic red-suited man delivering presents in the dead of night, the feasting, and the family gathered around.
Dylan Thomas captures it perfectly in his short story, “A Child’s Christmas In Wales” where it’s “always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers.”
Christmas isn’t Christmas without presents. Thomas chronicles the “Useful Presents” like mufflers and mittens. And then delightfully lists “the Useless Presents. Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor’s cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell.”
And he caricatures the family… “Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms’ length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.”
After dinner the child “would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements” to throw snowballs at cats and sing Christmas carols to the ghost in the haunted house.
I love this story, and I wanted to share it with you.
You can read it here: http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/xmas.html
Listen to Dylan Thomas read it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFSs2IdDmuU
But for a real treat, go to iTunes or Amazon and buy Dylan Thomas: A Child’s Christmas, Poems and Tiger by Cerys Matthews. It’s set to music and voice acted. It’s lovely and absolutely worth the $15.
The only thing that comes close to creating that same magical feeling now that I’m an adult is a white Christmas. Here in Colorado, we don’t get one every year. But it is possible this year. We got a little bit of snow yesterday, with a forecast for more tomorrow. And I’m crossing my fingers that it sticks around, and that I can lace up my ice skates, fill up a thermos of hot chocolate, spend an hour gliding across a pond, and savoring how beautiful winter can be.
However you celebrate your holiday, I hope there are a few moments of magic, a few treasured memories, and lots of love.