The Story Goes On.

image1Christmas is all about stories. Whether it’s A Christmas Carol or ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas or A Christmas Story or, well, you know, the original Christmas story the holiday is shaped by the stories we tell about it. One story I keep coming back to is Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas In Wales. I have a little copy that’s very special to me because I purchased it in Laugharne, the Welsh town where Thomas spent the last years of his life and did some of his best writing. The book was in my pocket when I stopped in Carmarthen, a Welsh town between Laugharne and Swansea, and attended the lighting of the town Christmas tree, so the story of how and why I went to Dylan Thomas’s home has, in my mind, become entwined with his Christmas story. I haven’t been back to Carmarthen since then but in the pictures I find on Google–something I couldn’t have imagined at the time–it looks very much the same. The Old Priory Guest House where I spent the night is still there, and still next to a graveyard. And when I read the story I still enjoy it as much as I did the first time, especially when young Dylan and his friends go caroling. Or maybe it’s the fire. Or the uncles. Or Auntie Hannah who has a few drinks because it’s only once a year and

So what’s your favorite Christmas story?

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7 Comments

  1. Gina W.

    I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I haven’t read “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. Horrible, I know. I will make a concerted effort to do so (sometime). Regarding your question, as a child there was a book I loved that had detailed photos of Santa’s workshop getting ready for Christmas. It was super detailed showing the elves in the kitchen cooking (for example). The name of the book escapes me right now. When my son was born I searched online and thought I found a copy of the same book. What I didn’t realize is that at some point after the 70’s, the book was made “PC” so any images of Santa smoking a pipe were photo-shopped out. It seemed like there were some other subtle changes also. In any case, I was so disappointed that I put it away someplace and now I can’t find it. So yes, a book with smoking Santa was much beloved by me. There may have been a drunk elf also…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Most people haven’t read “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, which is kind of a shame because it’s funny and weird, but, being a Dylan Thomas story it doesn’t have a single narrative. It was something he originally dashed off for a magazine so it’s more of a short collection of odd little memories and meanderings about his childhood Christmas experiences.
      That’s kind of a shame that Santa’s pipe was edited out of the newer copy of that book. Or is it? I know it would be wrong to encourage kids to smoke, but the guy’s also fat and breaking into peoples’ houses. Regardless the drunk elf should have been left alone. If I had to do what the elves do I’d get hammered once in a while too.

      Reply
  2. Gilly Maddison

    Oh dear – I haven’t read it either. And me who adores Wales and would live there if I could. Have to make do with holidays now and then. Will seek out the book online now that you mention it. It is interesting to learn that it was something he ‘dashed off’ for a magazine rather than a more considered pice of work.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There are plenty of places online to find the text and even recordings of Thomas reading it. It was the recording, in fact, that saved the story from obscurity. Two college students, Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney, convinced Thomas to record some of his poems on an album during one of his tours of the U.S. When they needed something for the B-side he recorded his obscure Christmas story.
      He considered himself first and foremost a poet and considered prose slightly lesser, but the story reads like a lot of his poetry.

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    I look forward to reading this story, thanks to you.

    Reply
    1. Ann Koplow

      I’m so glad you went on about this, Chris. Now that story is very special to me.

      Reply
      1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

        I hope it was special to you before and that I’ve only helped make it more special.

        Reply

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