Saturday, December 24, 2011
J.R.R. Tolkien and Christmas
One of my favorite Christmas books is by Tolkien. That's right, the Eye of Sauron guy. Like many wonderful children's books, Letters from Father Christmas was written as a series of letters to Tolkien's children, as if Father Christmas himself had written them.
They started in 1920. And for twenty two more years, Tolkien sent the letters, each one illustrated and written in Father Christmas's signature shaky handwriting. In 1921 the North Polar Bear, or NDP, began to add to the letters. The Bear always got into mischief and ended up being scolded by Father Christmas.
In 1936 the elf secretary Ilbereth entered. He and the other elves had to ward off Goblin attacks, so Tolkien had begun to incorporate Middle Earth concepts.
Throughout you can see hints of Tolkien family life. Father Christmas explains why the children won't receive that expensive gifts they requested (the NPB switched the labels or fell down the stairs on top of them) which gives us an idea of the parents' worries. That he did so in such a creative, satisfactory way is just another testament to his imagination and genius.