A Child’s Christmas

From “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” by Dylan Thomas

All the Christmases roll down towards 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.


My family stores our ornaments in a couple of boxes (not large) in the attic. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to the storage system, and the boxes only get more crowded each year as we add another few ornaments.

Each year, we open the boxes (and, in recent years, a couple of bottles of beer), and plunge our hands in. As we gently lift the ornaments out of their haphazard nesting places, each brings a flood of memories and particular associations.

There are some that I look forward to hanging on the tree each year, like the little bear in the hot air balloon. I have no idea where that one came from and it’s not technically mine, but I bonded with it early and can’t remember a Christmas without it. As a young child in school, any Christmas tree I drew would have a handful of nondescript colored circles on it, plus one hugely oversized and highly detailed hot air balloon dangling from one side.

And that’s the magic of Christmas, isn’t it? All the years like so many ornaments nestled in the box of traditions and rituals, so that you can plunge your hand into any particular holiday and pick up a memento of another one. Flakes upon flakes of Christmases past make up the snowbanks of memory that we reach into with every ornament hung, every stocking opened, every dish passed around the table.

Whatever you bring out this year, may it bring joy.