I wanted to give you something for Christmas. Something free and different.
Yes, yes. I know that everything on this website is free (okay, well, if you click the links to my books you’ll see that the books aren’t free). And the Advent readings are certainly free. But they aren’t different.
Okay, maybe they are different. I don’t know.
I’m starting over.
I have a Christmas present for you. And this is for you even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, don’t get Christmas, or even if you are a Bah Humbug kind of person.
I hope you’re not. But still.
This is a Christmas present for everyone: adult and child alike, solitary or in company, at home or away. It’s for anyone who likes words and even for people who don’t realize they do (one of my not-so-secret aims is to show you that you do like words, that you actually love them–did you know?). It’s a gift of something simple, brief, and lovely. Something you can enjoy once or again. Something that will make you think and imagine or that you can turn your mind off to and just let the words come– as they will, as they want to.
(Well-aligned words are Such Lovely Things, don’t you think so?)
Here’s the gift: I’ve read aloud and recorded something Favorite of mine, and I’m inviting you to listen.
What is it? It’s a short story. No. A poem. No. A Memory and a Conversation, a look over the shoulder, a Christmas or ten of them heaped up and then unspooled in a glorious line of words.
It’s Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Who is Dylan Thomas? Dylan Thomas was a Welshman and a poet. He lived a short, loud and inebriated life, and he loved Christmas. He loved his memories of Christmas, anyway–the Christmases he had known when he was a child in (you guessed it) Wales.
He wrote A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and the work is certainly a testament to his love for and fond memory of his childhood Christmases. Well, whether or not he actually loved these memories is, I suppose, up to question, as he died in 1953. We cannot ask him. But this bit of prose certainly suggests that he loved those Christmases Past and snow and Wales in the snow.
Any work of literature mustered up in love is worth something, isn’t it? Add to that Thomas’s adjectives, his specificity, his brilliant and tempered use of alliteration; include his evocation of the child-mind, so richly done in this text; his appreciation of postmen; his love of mystery; his brilliant description of uncles (“there are always uncles at Christmas”) and aunts.
It’s so so good.
And it might be difficult to follow. So allow me to explain that this is a memory, and memories come as they will, right? Often memories lead to other memories in ways that make sense to our minds at the time but that, written out, might be confusing to the one who is following along.
Know that this is what is happening here: someone is remembering his childhood Christmases, and he is doing so in the aggregate: all-in-a-heap. One thought of Christmas past leads to another, and just when you are really and truly settling in to this stream-of-consciousness, you realize that he is now relating these Christmases to someone else–likely a child.
In fact, the way that this narrative becomes a conversation makes one wonder if Thomas is himself one of the uncles he mentions who has been dozing (and remembering) in front of a Christmas fire, and then has been interrupted by a niece or nephew and so begins telling them what he has been reliving in his mind.
And, as I said, it’s for everyone. For people who began their holiday celebrations last night with Hanukah. For people who have never heard of Christmas. For people who celebrate Christmas in the summertime, never with snow. It’s for you and your children, for your baby who can barely crawl. For your great-aunt who might even now be “teetering at the sideboard.” For the uncles who are on their way to your house for the holidays.
Why is it for everyone? Because it’s beautiful–and beauty is for Everyone, most especially at Christmas.
So where is it? See below. Download and enjoy.
With Great Joy,