A Child’s Christmas In Wales was written by Dylan Thomas and published in 1955. It is an anecdotal sketch of the festive season which emerged from a piece originally written for radio. It is an exercise in storytelling and Thomas recreates the experience of Christmas as though it were a fairy tale.
He describes an old-fashioned picture book Christmas which is meant to be familiar to everyone. At one point, while the narrator is remembering festivities from the past the voice of a small child asks him “Were there Uncles like in our house?” He replies, “There are always Uncles at Christmas”, emphasizing that the experience of Christmas doesn’t change with time: it is a universal experience shared by everyone.
But Thomas is keen to emphasize that modern Christmases are not as good as the ones he remembers. In the past, “It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas”. This remembered snow was not the same as that which we have now: it was a “dumb, numb thunderstorm of white,” and far more exciting. Thomas recreates the nostalgic magic of a childhood Christmas when everything was brighter and better.
There are so many options for enjoying this rich literary classic. Read how he starts the story and see if you are not drawn in.
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.
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen
Denholm Elliott in a wonderful movie adaptation of the story.
There has not been a year since that time that I have not read this story at Christmas time at least once. Thank you, Kathryn!
A Child’s Christmas in Wales This compilation of mine includes a brief background, artwork, unabridged text, and a link to Dylan Thomas’s own recording of the story.