With his subtle prose Thomas can be heavy going, but never here. In this paean to childhood Christmases he is light in his lyricism, confounding fact with the imagination of false memory and children’s thinking to present a fairytale reality of deep snows, useless useful and useful useless presents, stereotypical uncles and aunts, of childhood haunts and childhood escapades, a seeming deft flick of reminiscence that belies what must have been an intense labour of love.
Humour is to the fore. In the midst of a list of characters portrayed with loving affection he tells us the dog was sick. We see through children’s eyes things we know as adults to be false only for us, too, they were true once, and we remember them. Thomas boxes Christmas with tremendous care and wraps it with the ribbon of his own unique way with words, presenting us with a gift with which we were all once familiar to revisit anew and discover yes, you can go back, and it can be a joy to do so.