A Child’s Christmas in Wales

This edition printed in:

A Child's Christmas in Wales stands beside a calico tabby who has stretched out her paws in front of her.

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and the best of the season to everyone! December always seems to utterly whip by — except for those moments where its crawling towards Christmas morning. But today’s the day where all of the preparations are worth it. We have our dinner in the oven and the cats are all buried in the delights of wrapping paper on the floor while the Christmas music winds its way out of our tiny speaker.

This year we got the cats one big present — a new cat tree! The senior ladies are ruling over the bottom three levels, while the younger girls are playing queen of the castle in the tallest place closest to the ceiling. And I know they have no idea it’s Christmas, but I love seeing them so happy and active. That’s the real magic of the season, the happiness we give to one another.

A calico tabby leans against a red-and-green copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales.

So have the happiest of holidays and the best of New Year’s!

A Favourite

I intentionally saved Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales for Christmas Day because it has become my favourite Christmas story over the years (or, at the very least, it sits in a firm tie with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). It’s the at times fantastical accounting of the childhood Christmases that Thomas is reflecting back on in adulthood. Thomas is primarily a poet and the piece is written in the form of prose poetry — so, with a loose narrative structure that relies on descriptive passages to further the story and to give it the feel of a series of memories recounted to children gathered at Christmastime.

A calico tabby stretches out a multi-coloured paw to rest along the edge of a red book: A Child's Christmas in Wales.

It accurately captures the persistence of emotional memory and the times and places that leave the deepest mark on us going forward. It also captures the vehemence of nostalgia at special times of the year. The wistfulness of wanting to go back but being able to only in the mind’s eye.

This edition of A Child's Christmas in Wales features a red cover with a green spine, dappled with golden and white snowflakes and filigree. The title is in gold, and there is an image of a young boy looking out a window illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

Thomas also masterfully renders the experience of trying to pass on memories to a younger generation and to tell those that were not born yet what it was like to be young at a specific time and in a specific moment. It’s a beautiful piece that resonates not just as a beacon back to Thomas’ childhood in Wales but to all distant childhoods that may be gone but will never be forgotten.

A Note on How to Read It

This is one of those books that is truly enjoyed best when read aloud, and it was written to be read to an audience. In fact, before I had heard it read aloud during Loreena McKennitt’s Under a Winter’s Moon tour by Cedric Smith I didn’t quite understand how the poetry was supposed to sound or how it flowed together.  I would strongly recommend that if you want to get the most out of A Child’s Christmas in Wales that you seek out a recording first — the Under a Winter’s Moon album includes Smith’s excellent reading, but there are several other versions that are still out there and waiting to be enjoyed. Thomas himself recorded the work in 1952, the book being published only after his death in 1953.

This edition of A Child's Christmas in Wales features a red cover with a green spine, dappled with golden and white snowflakes and filigree. The title is in gold, and there is an image of a young boy looking out a window illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

It’s important to keep in mind that the structure is not a traditional structure and that it relies on the reader knowing that this is an older man recounting a memory to a child. It moves in the strange ways that dialogue often moves and includes a jumble of various Christmases mashed together instead of a straightforward account of one Christmas that the narrator experienced at a specific age.

The Illustrations

A Child’s Christmas in Wales has been illustrated countless times by many talented artists. The edition I purchased this year is illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman and she uses a lush style that captures the magic of childhood colour and whimsy but retains a realism that takes the reader back to Wales in 1920s.

An open book shows two pictures: one of a postman with a red scarf knocking on a door with two dogs and a cat beside him; the other of a young boy leaning out an open window.

I will say that if you find that you like this story, it is worth investing in a good edition with illustrations you’re drawn to. We read the book every year in the days leading up to Christmas and someday I hope to give our edition to our niece and nephew so that they can keep the tradition alive.

A calico tabby lies on a red-and-green tartan blanket and rests on paw on an open book.

Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings!

I actually write these posts about two weeks in advance of the posting so, as I type, I’m knee-deep in the last of the preparations and things are starting to feel crunchier than I want them too. It means looking forward to Christmas morning is comforting and a reminder of what happens when all of the errands end and there’s nothing more to do but enjoy the moment.

A calico tabby leans against a red-and-green book with gold text: A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Once again, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and Happy New Year to one and all! Thank you so much for reading my posts — and for reading in general. I wish you all the best in books and stories!

And, of course, the cats wish you all the best too!

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