Sunday, December 24, 2006

A knitter's Christmas

My all-time favorite Christmas poem is Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales. In the middle of his wonderful poetic sojourn into the Christmases past of our imaginations, the small boy pestering the narrator with questions insists:

"Get back to the Presents."

A litany of various woolen items of questionable quality follows:

"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."

Until I became a knitter, I never quite saw the insult in these descriptions of woolen gifts; I hope mine surpass these, and become not just Useful (if odd) gifts, but the ever more enjoyable "Useless Presents," such as:

"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds."

When all is said done, though, the last lines capture this winter month for me:

"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."

Merry Christmas in this darkest time of year, these days of solstice. Whether or not you celebrate this particular holiday, I hope your darkness is holy (whatever you consider the holy to be) and that all around you feels close with comfort.

Not to mention - may all your knitted gifts be not only finished, but useful and thoroughly enjoyed!


Sheepish Annie said...

The perfect post!!! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Enjoy!!

schrodinger said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

keri said...

I love it when my knits are used thoroughly =)

Merry belated christmas!

trek said...

Don't have your email but I hunted you down to say that the yarn is STR in Jail House Rock!