I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic since I’m not headed home for the holidays. To make up for it, I recently bought two albums from my grandparents’ record collection: Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, an orchestral children’s story narrated, in this version, by Boris Karloff; and a recording of Dylan Thomas reading his poem, A Child’s Christmas in Whales. The Peter and the Wolf, not exactly a holiday offering, was always my favorite. There is some debate about Prokofiev’s artistic loyalty to the Soviet government, which commissioned the allegorical tale. It tells the story of Peter, who witnesses some downright Hobbesian interactions among the forest creatures behind his grandfather’s house. A duck and a bird call each other names, a cat tries to eat the bird, and a wolf eats the duck. In my nostalgic imagination, I’d remembered a happy ending. Not so! Even though Peter captures the wolf, the duck remains trapped inside, alive and quacking to this day. Merry Christmas!
The Dylan Thomas wasn’t as much fun. I set the album on my little record player and sat down, awaiting the waves of quiet, Presbyterian family memories. But, just like six-year-old Angela, I had no tolerance for Thomas’ impossible warble. I wanted to go outside and play. (In moments of actual patience, I do like Thomas. This is one of my favorites.)