Cherry Potts writes:
Not the most obvious category for me to have a favourite in, being a bit of a pagan when it comes to midwinter festivities, but a story that I think captures both the childhood excitement and the element of misrule that still occasionally creeps into the season is Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Written in the style of a memoir, but with Thomas’ capacity for both elegiac prose and mischief, it transcends the ‘Christmas ain’t what it used to be’ genre to be a classic – humorous, wicked and beautiful all at once. Rejoining young Dylan and his friend Jim as they stalk cats through the eternal ever since Wednesday snow, Eskimo-footed Arctic marksmen, and save Mr Prothero from the fire: we threw all our snowballs into the smoke; carol-singing with the ghost with a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small, dry voice through the keyhole and writing rude things about the neighbours in the snow, are some of the pleasures of the run up to midwinter.
If I am pedantic, it is too episodic to be the perfect short story; it is really a handful of stories rolled up together (like a snowball - it grows and gathers momentum), but it is done with such expansive good humour you can see Thomas’ winter-scorched breath as he laughs and turns the corner as he heads slap-dashing home down towards the two-tongued sea.
It’s a hard heart that can’t enjoy his rich overblown language and insightful young boy’s observation of the eccentric adult world about him with its briar pipes and postmen. My childhood Christmases were nothing like this, but it is how I wanted them to be, and it is a story that leaves you as sated as a Christmas morning spent eating chocolate and oranges surrounded by wrapping paper and the scent of pine needles in the knowledge that there is pudding and trifle still to come.
Read the story here: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0701261h.html
Cherry Potts is owner, editor and chief cheerleader at Arachne Press. She has two collections of short stories to her name, and now quite a few anthologies under her editorship. So that’s what you do with two redundancies in five years!