Letters From Father Christmas
Houghton Mifflin, 2004
It is a collection of letters written by Tolkien to his children (as Father Christmas, and sometimes his Secretary Ilbereth) every year, from 1920 onwards for nearly twenty years, till about 1943.
The first letter was for his then 3-year old son John, and as the years passed the letters were addressed to his three sons John, Michael, Christopher and his daughter Priscilla. "Cheer up, chaps (Also chaplet if that is the feminine)." says Polar Bear in one of his postscript scrawls. In one of the letters, Father Christmas asks the children to give his love to John who has stopped writing back, thus letting us learn a little about John, the eldest son.
The elaborate world Tolkien created for his children, with Father Christmas in the North Pole, his chief assistant North Polar Bear, and even his Secretary Elf Ibereth, along with drawings and paintings, is quite an interesting read. The imagination, creativity and facility with which Middle Earth was created is hinted at in this collection of intimate and delightful letters.
The book reproduces many of the original letters and paintings, transcribed in print to make it easier to read the spidery old writing. A Goblin attack leading to an almost never-was Christmas, reindeer running loose, accident-prone North Polar Bear creating mini disasters everywhere and everywhen he could, all make for a magical experience many children today learn to dismiss and disbelieve.
I fell in love with this book at first read. And after reading a few of the letters, looks like it is exercising its charm on my five-year-old daughter as well.
[image source: tolkien.co.uk]