Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas


Each year I bring out this dear little book with all the other Christmas books. I don't think I have ever read it in its entirety until now. Most people seem to catagorize it as "prose poetry". Whatever it is called, I loved it so much, and I find myself admiring the film version even more because it is very true to Thomas' words. I've written about the movie here, if you would like to read it.

I had forgotten that I gave it to my mother.

It clutches at my heart and makes me cry - the way she wrote "my Nan". She died three years later.

Two years earlier, Tom had given her this album on the first Christmas after my father died.

I heard her play "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" a lot, and I think it was a comfort to her. There's a line "Though Lovers Be Lost, Love Shall Not". Deep fellow that Mr. Thomas.

And that depth comes through in "A Child's Christmas in Wales". His words convey so much feeling. He writes of "the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep". Do we all hear those voices?  Of our long-dead parents or grandparents? And we never can remember because we fall into sleep right afterward? 

The heartfelt parts are balanced by the humorous remembrances like Miss Protheroe asking firemen who have been fighting a fire in the house, "Would you like anything to read?"

Thomas offers litanies of "useful presents" - "engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths" and "useless presents" - "bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies" and "a tram-conductor's cap and machine that punched tickets". "And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it."

After an adventure outdoors with friends, they "returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us..."

If you type his name into the blog's search, you will find more by Dylan Thomas, including the words that end both this book and the movie;

"Looking through my bedroom window, out into
the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow,
I could see the lights in the windows
of all the other houses on our hill and hear
the music rising from them up the long, steadily
falling night. I turned the gas down, I got 
into bed. I said some words to the close and
holy darkness, and then I slept."


  1. What a beautiful and moving post, Nan. You lost your mother and your father way too young, and this is a lovely memory tribute to both of them. Isn’t it interesting how Mr. Thomas touched your family, and every year provides a warm link to those special people gone too soon. Hugs.

  2. This is the same one we have! I also have another copy and have given my grown girls their own copies. It is a Christmas tradition in our home to read it aloud each Christmas Eve. The girls protested some when they were little, but then the grandkids joined in the reading, too, so now we all go through it each year. I saw the National Theater of the Deaf perform it on PBS in the 70's--absolutely wonderful!

  3. Lovely post, Nan - I love what your deer mother wrote - how you must treasure that book. And I have the same one, too. Will pull it out to read again.

  4. What a beautiful copy you have on it, and how lovely to think of it being treasured and read so far away.

  5. Beautiful post, Nan; thanks for sharing the memories. What a treasure that book is with that note from your mother inside it that way.

  6. I find myself getting rather emotional these days, and so it was no surprise to me that your beautiful post made me well up a little. Thank you very much for sharing this with us, dear Nan!
    And I love your current header photo - the squirrel in the snow, the stack of wood... just wonderful!

    1. I do, too. Sometimes the world is a little too much. I am happy you liked the squirrel. It let me get quite close.

  7. Replies
    1. Yes, they do especially the way the world has been these past years. I am just not as strong as I was.

  8. I was given a copy of 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' when in my early 20's. I enjoy it at least once every Christmas season and also have a recording of it as read by Dylan Thomas. His 'Fern Hill' is another favorite.

    1. I don't think I have read Fern Hill. Will look into it. Thank you.

  9. What an excellent post ..I so love that story and I bought a copy of he cd recording this Christmas to give as a gift...I love the story of Dylan Thomas on an outing where he may have not been totally sober getting everyone to help him find his lost shoes....only to find to his amusement that he had gone out with out them on...but I also always remember my old college professor saying just remember he was always sober when he wrote and write beautifully he did! xxx


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