What is it about Christmas and night time? Despite the darkness and cold which would usually induce grumbles and misery, Christmas evenings are my favourite time of the day. I love seeing Christmas lights brighten up dark windows as the sun goes down, and the beauty of a cold starry night is a sight for sore eyes. And of course, most importantly, Christmas Eve is the night where Father Christmas is at his most busy. Night time is of particular significance in today’s Advent calendar offering, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.
We meet James, the central character to the story, on a very snowy and bright morning. He rushes downstairs and out into the bright cold morning where he proceeds to build the snowman that every child dreams about. Complete with raisins for eyes, a tangerine nose and coal lumps for buttons (and a generally very sweet, kindly expression) James fashions himself the companion who he is lacking in the form of friends or siblings.
Next comes the most magical part. James is packed off to bed and, after all the familiar evening routines of tea-time and bath-time, night falls over the house. During this night of all nights, James’s snowman comes alive! Our friend, crying out for fun and laughter, goes on a night of adventures, including a ride on a motorbike, flying to the North Pole and attending a party hosted by snowmen. And all back in time for bed, without Mum or Dad even knowing. The magic of this simple tale is enough to spark the festive imagination of any reader, young or old.
Despite the twinkly lights and multi-coloured baubles, the festive season is also often a time for reflection and melancholy. Never has such a feeling be encapsulated better than by the final page of The Snowman where the magic comes to an end. But who knows what will happen next time it snows…