Monday, December 24, 2012

Children's Christmases in Wales or Wisconsin, Washington or Wichita.....

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come........... (This and all quotes below come from A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.)

I decided to prepare a nice Christmassy post with some of the husband's vintage Found Photographs from his collection - Christmas scenes from the long ago, from early USA? That wasn't going to happen though. Few people, other than professional photographers and the extraordinarily wealthy, owned cameras; even those who did usually didn't have equipment advanced enough to take reasonable photographs indoors, away from bright daylight.

So, I found when searching my husband's collection of vintage photographs at Flickr and Lost Gallery, the earliest indoor Christmas snapshots come from the 1950s onward, no outdoor Christmas shots. As far as I can remember, back in England, if my parents owned a camera when I was very young it'd be a basic Box Brownie needing plenty of daylight to function properly, so I have no evidence of my own earliest Christmases; there was a war on, anyway.

Some Christmas photographs from husband's collection follow, quality varies, early Polaroid has its problems. It occurred to me that a few of these almost echo lines from Dylan Thomas's prose piece quoted (and linked) at the top of the post: A Child's Christmas in Wales. I've included the odd line from the piece here and there. Whether in Wales or Wisconsin, Washington, or Wichita, the Christmas experience for children is much the same.

I'd guess this first photograph is the earliest vintage Christmas photograph from the collection, restored somewhat by Himself.

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the colour of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shapped hills..................

Get back to the presents................. troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run..........and Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh easy for Leonardo! .....Bags of moist and many-coloured 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 than an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow............

Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers.

......and some few small Aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edges of their chairs, posed and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.

Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year....

I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured 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, steadily 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 couple of my husband's own Christmas photos, from when his four offspring were young, during the 1960s, when he still had lots of hair.

His (then) young family

This is one of mine from the early 1980s - I like it especially because it shows framed photographs of my parents and my grandparents (with my mother as a child) and a Christmas card to me from my much loved grandmother.

Reading the cards in my parents' living room.

A more recent photo (from a couple of years ago) noticed among the husband's Flickr collection - along with his caption:

A visit to Santa
“And what do you want for Christmas, little girl?” Santa asked Annie.
Annie whispered something in Santa’s ear.
Santa chuckled and bells sounded all around the room. He tilted his head and winked and touched Annie’s elbow.
The air sparkled all around Annie and then she slowly began to disappear.


mike said...

Twilight, I hope you had a splendid HumanLight day yesterday, as Saturnalia wound-down. Happy holidays...Happy Day...and a Happy Life! You'll get a gun for Xmas, if you've been naughty!

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I think Human Light Day is a Humanist invention, and because Humanists do not recognise astrology I do not recognise their bits and pieces. I'd have joined if they didn't prove they're as closed-minded as the rest of skeptics.

I'll stop grumping now! 'Cos it's Christmas Eve.

Thank you for the good wishes!I hope your own Christmas, and the whole season proves to be peaceful, happy and healthy, Mike. :-)

PS...If Santa were to give me a gun he'd get it returned pronto - with bells on!!!

Anonymous said...


The cat in the photograph -Maine Coon or Norwedgian Forest? I had a red "Wedgie" for 16 years, the most well tempered cat I ever had the pleasure to live with. That said, your photos bring back memories as to how we decorated our house and dressed for the holidays.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Hi! ~~ About the cat in the old "Found" photograph: I'm no cat expert, so can't help, sorry to say. He/she looks quite regal!

Yes, it's interesting to see how customs of decoration and dress have changed (for some, anyway). I remember, as a child, making paper chains for Christmas decorations, to festoon across the living room, criss-crossed with a bunch of balloons in the centre. Later there were ready-made colourful fancy tissue "chains" that opened accordian-style - always fun! Those got more and more complex, and expensive, year by year. :-)

People (in England) would usually wear their "Sunday best" outfits on Christmas Day, maybe some still do, if the concept of Sunday best still survives, that is!

R J Adams said...

A Very Merry Christmas to you and AnyJazz, Twilight. Phew! Those old photos sure brought back a few memories. Am I getting old, or what?

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Thank you! Warm Christmas greetings to you and Mrs RJ - I hope the weather up yonder doesn't pose too much of a problem for y'all. We have it very cold with threat of ice and snow today, too.

Are you getting old or what, you ask? I think "what". Gemini doesn't get old, it only talks about it a lot. ;-)

Wisewebwoman said...

A lot of treasure in today's post, T. Not least of which Dylan Thomas' masterpiece.

Oh those photos brought tears to my eyes, remembrance of times past, the simpler times of tinsel and just a few gifts, not the truckloads of today, abandoned by Boxing Day!

Love and best wishes, T and leftovers to Himself.


James Higham said...

50s, yes, the days of the box brownie 127.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Simpler and somehow cleaner and clearer - yes, they were. Thank you WWW!
I hope your day was bright and peaceful - big hug to you - one for Ansa too! :-)

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ Yes, though the wealthiest, the few, probably had one of those fancy German jobs or a "bellows" style camera. :-)