My Favorite Christmas DVD

I do not know what to call it. A poem? A movie? A visualization? All of the above? All I know is that we watched the BBC production of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” when it was first shown in the U.S. back in the late 80s and immediately purchased it when it was made available on VHS. Ever since then the Kimels have watched it together every Christmas Eve.  It’s a ritual my kids insist upon.

I cannot recommend this DVD too highly. I love it. You can purchase a new copy from Amazon and elsewhere for as little as $8.15.

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5 Responses to My Favorite Christmas DVD

  1. Kim Fabricius says:

    From the nostalgic little prose work of local-colour reminiscences by Dylan Thomas, who grew up in Cwmdonkin Drive, about a mile from where I live in Swansea. A Child’s Christmas in Wales was published in 1955, but Thomas famously recorded an earlier version of it in 1952 on BBC Radio Wales — drunk, as usual.

    Here, by the way, is a limerick of the Welsh bard specifically on Christmas — and Good Friday:

    There was an old bugger called God,
    who got a young virgin in pod.
    This disgraceful behaviour
    begot Christ our Saviour,
    who was nailed to a cross, poor old sod.

    Yet lest anyone be too quick to dismiss Thomas as a rhetorically brilliant yet finally overrated and irreverent Welsh sot, here, finally, is another Welshman, also from Swansea, on Thomas:

    “Thomas was no admirer or adherent of conventional religion; but his entire work struggles to articulate both a sense of the appalling and rich depths of the natural world and a clear-eyed compassion for all the varieties of human oddity”; a poet who articulated a vision of “our human invol­vement in a material world where death and birth alike open doors of perception.”

    The name of this Welshman, btw, is Rowan Williams.

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  2. PR says:

    Huh. I know of a song by John Cale of the same name. I wonder what the relationship is. I thought

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  3. Mike H says:

    This movie is also on YouTube:

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  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I hesitate, loving the original, so…

    Denholm Elliott makes me think, among other things of his time in a Silesian POW camp, where he was involved in theatricals with the other prisoners, and met the composer, William Hilsley, when the civilian internees where allowed to perform at the POW stalag – Hilsley was German and of Jewish descent, but, happily, born in England and holding a British passport, and, so, treated as a British civilian when captured after the invasion of the Netherlands, where he taught. One of his fellow internees, for a while, was P.G. Wodehouse. Hilsley composed a Mass setting for Christmas in his camp, and music for various entertainments, including a Bluebeard pantomime, with a list of characters including Lord Peter Wimsey, Bunter, and Miss Dorothy L. Sayers (played by a man: it was a men’s camp).

    During the war, Dylan Thomas wrote another story of humorous, wintry remembrance, Quite Early One Morning, recording it for broadcast in December 1944 for the Welsh BBC (and at least one or another recording survives, and can be heard at the moment on YouTube – where some versions or other of two wartime films he scripted can also be seen, New Towns for Old (1942), and These Are the Men (1943), using parts of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will in ways not entirely dissimilar from the current retitlings of excerpts from Der Untergang (Downfall)!).

    Meanwhile his friend, Vernon Watkins, whom he called “the most profound and greatly accomplished Welshman writing poems in English”, was working at Bletchley Park as a cryptographer, where he met his future wife, Gwen: two emphatically Christian writers – she has spoken (and, I think published) about MacDonald and universalism…, and can be heard reminiscing about Thomas in a film on YouTube).

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    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I see yet another recording at present on YouTube, Dylan Thomas reading “Reminiscences of Childhood” (1943). And the Gwen Watkins interview turns out to be from a film with lovely visits to Thomas’s birthplace, and his later home, and other local attractions (in a true rather than cliched sense):

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