The letters start out fairly simply, just a nice message to Tolkien's three-year-old son, John, who had asked Tolkien about Father Christmas and where he lived. The letter came with a full-color drawing of Father Christmas himself, and of his home near the North Pole. It seems John was delighted, because for more than twenty years, Tolkien continued the tradition, until his youngest child was in her teens. In a way, he became Father Christmas himself, don't you think?
At first the letters are fairly simple, but as the children got older, Tolkien created a whole mythology around Father Christmas and his helpers -- can't you imagine him doing that? The creator of Middle Earth would not be content with just one old guy in a red suit and some elves. He gives Father Christmas a helper named North Polar Bear, then an elf secretary named Ilbereth, a gardener named the Snow Man, nephews for North Polar Bear, and so on. He introduces goblins that keep messing up Father Christmas' storehouses of toys and books and fireworks, and there are whole battles between them. North Polar Bear gets into lots of mischief, and also likes to add little notes to the letters in the margins.
Overall, this is the most delightful book imaginable, and I will treasure my copy always. Here are a few of the illustrations (which I totally found on the internet and didn't scan in myself because I didn't want to break the binding on my book to lay it flat):
|The first letter, 1920|
|North Polar Bear causing problems, 1928|
|Goblin attack! 1933|
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G. Good for everyone of all ages.
This is my second book read and reviewed for the Literary Christmas Reading Challenge hosted at In the Bookcase, and my fifty-fifth for the Classics Club.