Dylan Thomas and the Sanctification of the Specific

*A Child’s Christmas in Wales* wandered into the store one day. I had heard of this poem by Dylan Thomas, and even though poetry challenged, I sat down and read it. Wonderful.

I bumped into it again, somehow, on the computer — you know how these things happen — and I thought it might be fun to read as a family on Christmas. We did, on Boxing Day, the six of us each staring at our devices — iPads, iPhones, MacBook Air, each reading a verse in succession around the circle. The ten year old kept up quite marvelously. Yes, it was a little long for him, but he wound his way through the run-on sentences and during other people’s turns, ate blackberry sorbet, keeping one eye on the screen.

At the end some of us tossed out memorable phrases. I thought about EB White’s quote on the elegance of details. I looked around the living room at presents stacked in piles, bits of wrapping paper and ribbons floating through the dog hair on the carpet, ornaments dangling on the tree - some going back further than my childhood; fudge and eggnog and roast beef . . . Christmas is such a welter of details. And in the midst of them, Emanuel, “I am with you.” All is made Holy. Astonishing.