Undaunted: Why useless presents are what Christmas is all about

A poem by Welshman Dylan Thomas conjures up the true essence of the yuletide season, writes Steve Daunt

Undaunted: Why useless presents are what Christmas is all about

Scalextric cars from 1960s

Christmas, as Cliff Richard reminds us in 'Mistletoe and Wine', is a time for giving. As Undaunted winds down for 2014, I’ve taken this instruction to heart and gone back to my school days to offer you A Child’s Christmas in Wales, written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in 1952.

I have a confession. It wasn’t during Christmas that I first came accross the story. To be honest with you, I think it was a sunny October morning. Second year in school. Exploring English 2. That’s the blue one, full of ‘prose’. What an exotic word to a 14-year-old.

I think our English teacher - Charmaine Sadgrove - read the story in a Welsh accent. It caught me. Of course, there were always uncles for Christmas in our house too. Then I heard the idea of useless presents and knew exactly what he was on about. Who needs a jumper when you can have a Scalextric? A man of infinite common sense was that Welsh guy.

Even now the pull of useless presents is far too strong for me.

This brings us to today, two days before the big day. I don’t know where my Exploring English 2 is but google is a great thing. Firstly, I found the text that I first read thirty years ago. There were goosebumps. Sweet cigarettes and those long wooly scarves leapt back into my brain.

I went further. After one or two more clicks, the original recording made by Dylan Thomas in February 1952 filled my room. Oh yes, there was joy and one or two sweet memories as I was transported back to my young teen self discovering a great work.

My Christmas present to you is to share it with you. Sit back, pour yourself a mulled wine or munch on a mince pie. Give yourself a 20-minute break and have yourself a joyous, peaceful and happy Christmas.

See you in 2016.