Christmas Past

Christmas Past

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. 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, steady 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.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales – Dylan Thomas

Recommend0 recommendations

Published in Senior Chatters


  1. nmod

    I wasn’t brought up with much religion in my life ,we lived in an isolated island …a place where there were no churches ,shops ,or even neighbors !
    To go to school we needed to take the water bus ( passenger’s ferry) and travel for well over an hour to get there .
    Sometimes the same ferry used to deliver whatever people like us needed .
    Things like . The newspaper , bread ,milk ,medicine, even the mail !
    My father used to do odd jobs for the timber industry and also fish and hunt for food ,life was very simple . There was no electricity,no running water ,no gadgets to make life easier .
    My mother was pretty much a slave ! There was always so much to do !
    My father used to get drunk whenever he could afford it and take out his frustrations on my mother ,who often needed to run for her life ,and hide in the bush until he passed out and then slept for the next two days …us seven children were seen as a nuisance ! Most of the time …
    As a child I didn’t know much about God ,only that God Seemed to be my mother’s only solace . She used to always remember and include God in her
    happy as well as sad moments with phrases like : God willing , thanks be to God, with God’s help ,God forbid ,I wish God would take me out of this miserable life ! and ,I wish I had died the day I was born .
    Christmas for us wasn’t about joy, and magic or gifts…My mother hated the holidays ,because for us it meant drunkness and fear.
    Now ,imagine how this life situation would affect a child’s mind . I don’t know how it affected my siblings ,but I know how it affected me .
    I became a loner child , I used to seek solace in the wilderness , insects and birds were my companions and at night I used to play hide and seek with the moon .And I was a dreamer , I’ve dreamed of better places and happier times .
    Well I’ve survived those Christmases of the past , and all those dreams I had …of better places …and happier times …I had them realized !

    1. una

      Never looked at this part of the site before. Opened my eyes. We are all so different on this site and have so many stories to tell. Well done you for opening up and sharing with us. Here is to the happier times you describe.

    2. PollyPie

      First I want to thank Laurie for posting a lovely Christmas tale, but mostly because of the trigger that shot nmod to tell us about her childhood.
      Nmod, I have always had such admiration for your words and contribution to this site, and your story has escalated my opinion.
      My childhood couldn’t be more different. Huge busy city of London; overcrowded schools; nightclubs at age 15; but ignored by my family, I was not important enough to be noticed.
      Nmod, you are so talented with words, and I wonder if you have, or thought about writing a book as a novel of your life. I for one would be so excited to read about your experiences, your fears, and how you gained such a informed education.
      Kudos to you my friend. xx

      1. nmod

        I’m a lover of words Polly ,always had ,always will …it’s in me …words , ..and learning are some of the things I feel most passionate about, perhaps I could mix them all up and write my story.
        Thank you for your touching words ,much appreciated .

  2. nmod

    Sorry ,Laurie it’s not about the story you’ve posted , that it’s very sweet ! But it kind of triggered the memories of my own childhood !

  3. Gael

    A classic from Dylan Thomas, that brilliant Welsh poet whose work has enriched the world. That particular piece of prose was originally written for radio and read by Thomas in 1952 and this fictionalised autobiographical account is one of his most popular works.

    He died a year after recording it. The story has been adapted as a play, film and animation.

    Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Laurie. In spite of it’s immense popularity, some still have not read it.

  4. patak

    Christmas has always had happy memories for me as a child and as an adult with my wife children and later with my nieces ans nephews at my mothers home. It’s so sad that now that Christmas no longer holds good memories now my beloved Carole is no longer here. I hope one day that my family will be able to celebrate Christmas once again.

  5. davidrv

    I have grown up poor. We didn’t have much. Thank God we never went hungry.
    Christmas to me was seeing oranges and nuts; food we never saw the rest of the year.
    The best Christmasses have been with my own family. My 2 daughters would plead with us to open some gifts on Christmas Eve. We usually had a gift that we allowed them to open. But they had to wait for Christmas morning to open their other gifts. And they were to wait till we got up for them to open their gifts. Most of the time we would be awake and we faked being asleep just to hear their little voices. I still can feel their little hands touching my face, gently rocking my shoulders, to wake me up.

  6. vonMichael

    Until 1950 we all in Germany had very little to consume which was the result of the WW II. 1948 – 1949 we had the currency exchange from Reichsmark to German Mark in the ratio 4:1 so there was not much money left in the families at all.

    My parents had to escape from the former East Germany to a little village in the new formed Western Germany.
    My parents were very much religious ( Roman catholic ) and stayed at the side of the religion even during that hard time.
    So I was brought up as a catholic and feel very good with it. Christmas never was a monetary feast day it always had a religion background for us. Christmas presents were secondary to us and had no high significance within the family.

    All I remember my youth was a hard time but my parents made it quite comfortable for me even when they had to relinquish in many situations to
    favor me.

  7. PollyPie

    Goodness. We all have a story to tell, but Nmod and vonMichael really need write books. This is the reason I love this SC so much. Older people with such diverse pasts. What an extraordinary bunch of people we are 😀 😀 😀