According to J.R.R. Tolkien, Father Christmas resides at the North Pole, is assisted largely by the Great Polar Bear and the Bear’s mischievous nephews, and periodically fights off the damaging rampages of black goblins. The fanciful musings of the British author most famous for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are new to me. A few weeks ago someone in our book club suggested we read this lighthearted collection for our end of the year meeting. From 1920 – 1943 Tolkien wrote letters nearly each holiday season to his children John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla as Father Christmas, recounting his misadventures in packing the annual presents for the world’s children, and in living way up north with such mythological creatures as elves, talking animals and “The Man in the Moon.” This is a collection impossible to read without smiling. Utterly charming, at times outright comical, I at once decided to share it with my boys. A and S believe themselves to be past the age of fairy tales, although one of them is an enormous Tolkien fan. Even so, we began taking our turns reading a few letters from Father Christmas each morning, which has even elicited a couple of giggles from G. Small children (and adults) will laugh at some of the antics and comments from the Polar Bear. A kindle version is available complete with the reprints of Tolkien’s original handwritten letters and colored pencil sketches.
Reading these letters on my kindle app has made impromptu research more convenient as I searched for images of Lotts bricks, Picabrix and original Meccano kits. If anyone is interested, the visitor Father Christmas mentions in the late 1920s who has come to the Tolkien family from Iceland was actually working as an au pair. Tolkien learned to speak some Icelandic before her arrival and was inspired by Icelandic mythology in his creation of various creatures in his trilogy.
Now, do you think I could interest anyone at the book club in a game of Snapdragon?